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Cover image for S.O.S.: you might suffer from F.O.M.O.! ( About Fear of Missing Out and Shiny Object Syndrome)

S.O.S.: you might suffer from F.O.M.O.! ( About Fear of Missing Out and Shiny Object Syndrome)

dvddpl profile image Davide de Paolis ・4 min read

I am attracted by the endless possibilities around me, all the stuff I´d like to learn and do, both on the personal and the professional level:

  • preparing for the AWS Solutions Architect, building a RasperryPI + React + Lambda Application, blogging on more technical topics, etc...
  • repairing my bike, juggling, editing photo books and videos from my trips

This does not sound bad indeed, it is a very good attitude: I am an open, curious, driven person!

Not quite.

I am distracted by the endless possibilities around me. Whatever I am doing I always fear I should be doing something else instead.

I am blogging - I´d better be working on some pet project!
I am working at the pc - I should read a book!
I am bouldering indoor - I´d better be slacklining in the fresh air under the sun!
I am doing anything above - I should spend more time playing with my kids!

I am a restless, unsatisfied person.

list of things I want to do

I heard a lot about the so-called FOMO - Fear Of Missing Out and I thought that was exactly my problem. But then I started reading about it - according to this article on Times it is

the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out – that your peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than you

and this means that

you are not participating as a real person in your own world.

Sorry. but that´s not my case. I do A LOT in my own world, at work, at home, on my own, and with my wife and kids. And I never feel envious of others, even though especially with social networks - the exposure to their people´s digital life aggravates my fear of missing out some interesting things in life ( hobbies I should try, places I should visit etc). But not because of envy towards them, just because they contribute to making my todo-list longer and longer.

Then I read about the SOS - shiny object syndrome:

A disease of distraction where you always see something new and more exciting to do than what you are already doing. It often affects entrepreneurs specifically because of the qualities that make them unique - since they tend to be highly motivated, they crave new technology and new developments and they aren’t afraid to start new projects and create new things.

Ok, I am not an entrepreneur, but it sounds pretty accurate!

Squirrel!
OK, time to sit down and complete the React course I bought on Udemy... But first, let´s just read this post about Vue on Medium!

Then the definition went on:

It’s similar to a child or an animal seeing something shiny far away, getting attracted to it, but losing their interest in it as they approach it. The shininess disappears, and so does the interest in the object.
The entrepreneur chases project after project, and change after change never settles with one option.

Mmm, that´s not me. Well, sometimes I don´t even start doing something because I know that there might be something more interesting coming next, but normally when I start something I always finish it.

My problem is that I want to do too many things and this causes:

  • lack of sleep - insomnia: go to bed late to finish something, wake up early to start something - wake up in the middle of the night because of I forgot to do something or I had some new idea)
  • guilt feelings about what I am doing or I should do (like now... I spent way to much time on this blog post! :-( )
  • difficulty in switching off: I can not just sit down and relax and do nothing. it´s a waste of time!!

So? Whatever the definition... I really like that I have a full life. I just need to appreciate more what I do and have instead of thinking what´s next? or what else?

Right now my action points are:

spend less time on social networks

I quit FB 2 years ago and since then I found myself with so much more time on my hands...

set goals and allocate times

I use trello to define a kind of Kanban board for the stuff I am doing and want to do, and if I have new ideas I put them in the inbox column. By the time I will sort them and sprint plan the next task many of them are already forgotten/lost interest and can be dropped. Unfortunately, I am not a very good project manager of myself and not so disciplined yet but I am working on it.

be mindful - focus on the right now and right here.

practice gratitude

I am still trying to force myself into meditating regularly ( using Headspace or Insight Timer - and into a kind of gratitude logbook - but I find it very very hard. Those practices still look a bit too "new-age_ish_"/ sappy for my tastes, but I am sure they would definitely help.

In the end, the mantra that I try to repeat to myself is just this, and it´s the hardest thing to learn:

accept the fact that you can´t do everything, and if you try to, you´ll end up doing even less.

Do you experience such issues? What is your strategy?

header_pic: me and my family upside down in a shiny object on top of Pico Ruivo on Madeira Island

Posted on by:

dvddpl profile

Davide de Paolis

@dvddpl

Sport addicted, productivity obsessed, avid learner, travel enthusiast, expat, 2 kids. 🏂✈🚞🌍📷🖥🤘👨‍👩‍👦‍👦🚀 (Opinions are my own)

Discussion

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Hello, I found your article incredibly fitting with myself. I usually lose interest in things when I understand their pattern; once the surprise is over, the fun is no more. I feel like I need to go every time on new roads, to discover, learn, experiment, taste new feelings. This gives me incredible energy on fresh starts but dangerous falls once into the new path- I am trying to get more balanced, too! Thanks for the nice point of view, I never found someone talking about it :) If you are Italian(it may be, from your name) un saluto da qua! Or, if not, greetings from Italy!

 

ciao. si. italiano. di Milano. ma vivo ad Amburgo da 5 anni. :-) tu?

 

Grosseto, Toscana. Ma abito qua a Bergamo, sono espatriato anche io :) auguri per tutto!

 

This was spot on. I find myself doing many of these things. For me, it's a worry that I'll become tech obsolete. All you have to do is spend a bit of time on Indeed and you'll see that many of the jobs require the latest stuff. With so many employers using resume scanning it pushes people to keep chasing the latest and greatest tech. Or as you say, "Shiny Objects".

 

yep. I am also always worried to become obsolete. Even though currently I am working on all the latest cool tech ( React + AWS) my main concern is that every 2 or 5 or 10 years you have to completely renew your skills and tech stack and while growing older you are now and then becoming a junior ( in that stach) ...

 

I too can relate to this.

I'm still on FB, but since the beginning I never checked it more than once in couple of months.

Beginning on 2018, I stopped following a lot of people on twitter, and started following "relevant" people.
Recently, I again, unfollowed a whole lot of them.
This allows me to keep my twitter stream to a manageable size.

I use todoist instead of trello. Kinda helps, but I need more discipline.

Finally, I think what matters most is "be mindful - focus on the right now and right here." cause I definitely need to be "brought back on track" regularly.

 

yep. keeping the stream of info low is also important. i noticed that also with medium / hackernoon. sure it's about tech and not about fakenews, parties or other crap on FB, but still the feed was becoming way too big.

 

Great post!
I often feel overwhelmed by the number of things I want to learn. I usually start multiple side projects / books and don't finish any of them. The key for me is to sit down, prioritize, and then only do the one thing I consider most important until I finish it. It's hard, but it is the only way for me. Otherwise I just end up with a bunch of half-finished goals.

 

I totally relate to this feeling, heck, the reason i'm on dev.to right now is because I got distracted from working on my react course! I have yet to find any sufficient coping techniques, I think we have so much at our finger tips these days, we reach a paralysis of choice in what we give our attention to. Literally everything and anything you want to learn is probably available to you on the internet, so how does anyone ever prioritize?

 

exactly. everything is available and luring us.

and the worst thing is that often I wast so much time reading articles about being more productive... i have a draft post about that problem - actually I came to work early to get shit done... but maybe i should just finish that.. 🤔

 

This is great Davide. I thought I am the only one. Your post made my day. Joker was damn right. Whatever does'nt kill you simply makes you "stranger"!

 

You are not alone, its good to have a circle of people who do the same. That way, it doesn't feel like a chore. I wish I had that circle.

 

This is great Davide. I thought I was the only one. Your post made my day. Joker was damn right. Whatever doesn't kill you, simply makes you "stranger".