FOMO for Programmers: Overcoming the Fear of Missing Out and Staying Focused on Your Goals

Get Out of Tutorial Hell.

Amy Li


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What is FOMO?

FOMO is not just the sense that there might be better things that you could be doing at this moment, but it is the feeling that you are missing out on something fundamentally important that others are experiencing right now.

FOMO usually comes from comparing yourself to others. It involves a sense of envy which affects your self-esteem.

What Type of FOMO Are You?

FOMO Type: Negative and Depressed

If the new cool thing (new framework, new language, new architecture, etc.) generates negative feelings for you, such as making you feel anxious because of your little or no knowledge about that thing and believing that there are already many people who know that.

FOMO Type: Positive and Energetic

If the new cool thing generates a positive feeling for you and makes you feel excited about that new cool thing, then you probably end up in a rabbit hole by going through all possible materials to learn that new thing. Many times, you realize that you haven’t finished the most important thing in front of you. That excitement generated by the new unknown cool thing motivates you to spread your life energy aimlessly without a focus. Therefore, compared to the first FOMO type, which might make you feel weak and nervous and keep you living in a negative mood for a while, the second type wakes up your emotion and energy and lets you do a lot of unplanned things, many of which are meaningless efforts. The GTD system (Allen, 2001) helps us make up clear choices and keep a regular check if our tasks still fit into the bigger picture to avoid the aimless movements of keeping searching and watching tutorials without getting anything important done.

Consequences of FOMO for a Coder

As for a coder or someone who just starts learning to code, he/she might often get lost in infinite online tutorials, which stops them from effectively getting things done to make meaningful movements toward their own goals. So, to become a…



Amy Li

Software Developer | Ph.D. in Medicine. I write about programming, productivity, personal development, and entrepreneurship.