3 Big Reasons Why Leaders Should Embrace the Joy of Missing Out


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As a high achiever, your to-do list will expand to fill the space you give it. You can see the value in every opportunity, and the fear of missing out (FOMO) is powerful. As an ambitious leader, I’m always thinking about how to maximize my time. You probably are, too. But are you missing out on life’s quiet moments? The ones that spark creativity and build resilience? Embracing the joy of missing out (JOMO) is my unlikely professional development recommendation. Choosing fulfillment over FOMO gives me space to trust my team and the time to reconnect with my priorities.

I credit one of the leaders on my team with teaching me about JOMO. Her decision to reframe “fear” into “joy” allows her to maintain a healthy work-life balance and enjoy a more intentional experience of freedom than most people I know. Spurred on by her example, I decided to log off during a recent vacation. For eight business days, I didn’t check my email. I deleted the email app from my cell. I was fully present for my trip, and my loved ones and I returned to the office as a JOMO evangelist.

Ultimately, knowing and modeling that “less” can be “more” will make you a better leader. Here’s why.

Related: Once a Month This CEO Kicks Staffers Out of the Office. Here’s Why.

1. Focus and creativity flourish with rest

Our attention spans are decreasing. The average person shifts focus on a screen every 47 seconds. Every time the focus shifts, our brains must start from the beginning of the new task. We make more mistakes, and it takes longer to complete a task. Plus, endless hustle can stifle creativity and innovation, which is a concern for 60% of leaders. Our base level of distraction is the real productivity-killer. Combatting it takes effort. Enter JOMO.

Traditional understandings of “maximizing time” might be hurting productivity instead of helping. While collaboration can be a tremendous source of creativity in the workplace, tougher problems require more time for the brain to make connections and form new, big ideas.

Science shows that intentional breaks, even very short ones, help our brains better process all the information we’re juggling at any given time. A mind that’s given the time to wander intentionally is free to solve complex problems.

Related: 9 Ways to Rewire Your Brain for Creativity

2. Disconnecting from the hustle fuels deeper connections with yourself and others

The always-on mentality can drown out the very things that make work meaningful. Focusing too narrowly on the day-to-day work and stressors can leave us feeling disconnected from our inner selves. Intentional disengagement and embracing JOMO gives us the space for introspection and self-awareness. We remember what we care most about and what really motivates us.

The highlights of my career so far aren’t KPIs; they’re relationships. From franchise owners I’ve helped reach new heights to nurturing blossoming leaders on my own team, it’s all about people. That goes for most businesses, too. Performance boils down to trust and authenticity. To show up as your authentic self, you must cultivate self-awareness and interrogate your values: Who are you, really? The opportunity for this kind of thinking doesn’t come up during the average workday. You have to make the choice to pause and reflect. You have to opt to miss out on doing something from your to-do list.

Learning that it’s OK not to be in every meeting is an exercise in trust. When you have strong relationships on your team and across departments, you can rely on their good judgment to pull you in when necessary.

3. Modeling resilience-boosting habits has a ripple effect on teams

Embracing “less” is imperative for leaders who want to have a collaborative, supportive and high-performing team. Chasing achievement can be exhilarating, but over time, the perception that success demands a 24/7 schedule takes its toll. According to Gallup research, people are more likely to leave a job due to culture or work-life balance problems than for better pay.

Overall, employees are more disengaged than they were just a few years ago, and 1 in 4 employees is experiencing signs of burnout. A good leader can help prevent burnout (and all its costs) by walking the walk with their teams. When leaders normalize setting boundaries, it empowers their team to do the same.

Related: These Invisible Energy-Draining Habits Are Making You — And Your Team — Less Productive

Choose fulfillment over FOMO and reap the rewards

“More” is a defining characteristic of work for high achievers and leaders: more emails, more meetings, more urgent decisions, more ways to connect, more opportunities to make a difference. Honestly, I thrive with all that “more.” That’s why I have to be so intentional about saying “no” to some of the pressure.

By making the conscious decision to miss out sometimes, we create space to remember who we are and what really matters. There is so much satisfaction to be found in focus and intentional choices. Work is not the most important thing we do. The time we spend with the people who love us is what really matters.



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