Business FOMO. Recognise it. Laugh at it. Ignore it.

One thing I know the majority of my network (that’s you if you’re reading this!) suffer from is being completely overwhelmed with the work/life juggle. And today I had an epiphany that I wanted to share with you all as it’s maybe not about brand but it is definitely about culture and performance…

I was doing my usual running around like a blue-arsed fly routine…. Early meeting in the city before a trek across to Bermondsey then rushing home on tube and bus (for those who know me well will know that is always an ordeal!) so I can catch a glimpse of the kids before going back into Soho to meet someone for a drink.  

My hour at home involved jumping into a group VC, signing off content for one customer, editing a blog and refining a PR statement, whilst trying to organise the kids’ dinner and get my teenager to do some GCSE revision.  My anxiety levels were completely off the scale and as I went upstairs to re-straighten my hair (this fine rainy weather is hell for the Jewfro) a thought occurred to me… I could actually postpone my evening plans. Or could I?!!!


To give you some context, I had in fact discovered during the afternoon that the person I was meeting would only be there for an hour anyway, and it would mean at least 40 minutes of travel each way so was it worth it? With the mounting to-do list in front of me and with my husband about to leave for Ghana for a few days, actually postponing seemed like a very sensible thing to do. But then…. the panic struck… what if this person was to be so mortally offended at my rudeness that they never spoke to me again? What if even though they planned to meet me for just an hour they were secretly hoping that the evening would be so fascinating they would be convinced to stay for longer? What if that evening drink was supposed to open the door to the biggest piece of business that the world had ever seen? And then I had my epiphany… that a lot of the choices we make in business are no different to the ones we make socially i.e. that I was suffering from FOMO.  Business FOMO.

So many times, even though I am on the verge of collapse, the need to go to that networking event, make sure my face is seen at that drinks party or that charity do, is driven by this fear that we will be missing out on an opportunity that actually rarely ever exists. The thought that we will be kicking ourselves for the rest of our lives that we missed out on that amazing moment is merely the madness in our heads. Most of us are working ridiculously hard and many are also juggling homes, life and kids as well. So why do we insist on adding this additional and completely unnecessary layer of pressure and anxiety to our lives?

Today I made the decision not to give into it. I texted, emailed and called my friend (and texted, emailed and called his PA!… overzealous, moi?) to say that I was going to have to postpone. He called as soon as he was available to say he completely understood, was totally charming and probably slightly relieved as he had to get back to his family anyway.

Phew! So instead of wasting time and money on unnecessary travel, I got to more fully commit to the VC, complete my to-do list, spend some quality time with the kids and my husband before he leaves, sit with my teenage daughter whilst she calmly did her revision and then retire to bed for a great night’s sleep without the whirring panic of too much to do and not enough time to do it in.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not recommending cancelling meetings at the drop of a hat, but the recognition that we all have a CHOICE is a huge one. It was one of the messages that I got loud and clear and that hugely impacted me when I first did my Athlete At Work programme back in 2006 with PlanetK2. Sometimes we just need reminding of it.

Because when it comes to business FOMO, athletes would never pay it any attention. They would choose to do whatever is going to most positively impact their performance.

So maybe try something now…. Have a look at your calendar this week and consider whether any one of your diary entries (particularly those evening events!) are driven by it. Then recognize it. Laugh at it. Ignore it. Realise that you have a choice and then make the right one for you.