Fear of missing out (FOMO) is most often associated with the use of online technologies and the desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing because of a fear of missing out on a rewarding experience being had by those others. It’s also a characteristic of many sole traders, particularly those in the communications game.
Communicators by nature hate not knowing what’s going on.
It’s taken me a good part of the last 20 years to learn there are three questions I need to ask myself before deciding if I’ll be missing out. (If you want to know what they are now, you’d better skip to the end of this post.)
20 years ago
On April 1 this year I celebrate 20 years in business, but I still remember the emptiness I felt the day I left the ABC Western Plains studios, wondering how I was going to manage my FOMO out on my own. There’s nothing quite like being a journalist to satisfy FOMO tendencies, or so I thought.
Back in the mid-90s there wasn’t the plethora of social media platforms to keep one informed outside of what could be read, heard or watched through traditional media channels.
Over the past two decades I’ve worked on dozens of interesting, innovative and educational programs and projects, from the grassroots up, using all my skills as a communicator and developing new ones; working with bureaucrats, corporates and community as the intermediary between their work and the public (that includes the media).
From the start, one job usually led to the next and my reputation within my networks ensured when one door closed the next one opened. I often joked the down time between projects were holiday periods.
After several years the number of approaches from prospective clients started to exceed my capacity as a sole trader. My FOMO tendencies overtook my ability to be rational about how many days in the week there are – eight, right? I found myself working late nights and most weekends just to fit it all in, in addition to the needs of a farm and a family.
Mainstream social media and a good web presence means a business’ potential reach is now far greater than ever before. Social media and Google are by far the most powerful marketing tools I have today, adding to personal referrals made by clients both past and present. It’s a heady mix.
Learning to say no
Over promising and under delivering is the kiss of death for reputations and subsequently businesses.
By reining things in to a manageable level I’m of far greater value to my clients, my family and myself. The disclaimer to this advice is I don’t always get it right. There are times when I should have said no earlier, not realising what was really important until all the commitments pile up.
My business resolution for 2016 is to flex my ‘no muscles’ a little more – particularly while I’m on holidays. The FOMO voice in my head adding “feel free to ask anyway”…
1. Is it RELEVANT to my area of expertise?
Is it an industry or sector with which I’m familiar and do they need my skills in strategic communications, media, social media, content creation, communications training, project management or facilitation?
If that’s a YES, go to 2; if not, then it’s a “NO, thank you”.
2. Is it of BENEFIT to me?
What’s in it for me in terms of professional development, financial reward, networking or feel good? Sometimes I have to weigh up where it’ll fit into my existing list of commitments too, including time for me and my family.
If I can identify what the relevance and benefit is, go to 3; if I can’t then it’s a “NO, thank you”.
3. Is it in line with my VALUES & BELIEFS?
Long gone are the days of just taking a job because of financial reward. Like a good wine, my interests, values and beliefs have matured with the years. This third question ensures the proposition is a good fit with where I’m heading.
Tick this box and that’s a definite YES; if not, then you’ll get the polite “NO, thank you”.
Note: I never give a flat no, end of conversation. Sometimes I’ll need find out a bit more and do my research. I will also give time to thinking about who might be worth talking to within my networks, freely providing a bit of advice in the process.
Want to know more about what I might say YES to? Visit my website.