FOTS vs FOMO and the Fork in the Road

FOTS vs FOMO and the Fork in the Road

In terms of living, are you feeling trapped between FOTS – fear of the same – the same good you have achieved to date and FOMO – fear of missing out – on the full life you have dreamed of?


As high-achieving professionals and business owners, we often bear the load of busyness and the pace of burnout despite the exhaustion and despite losing touch with those around us and losing track of where we stand.

Our current path and pace is often the source of so much of our success that it can seem to be our fate or our only option moving forward.

Eventually, however, there comes a point – a fork in the road – when our life as it is can no longer be sustained and the cost of our losing hurts more than our winning.

This is the point at which we feel a need to take action… but we can initially feel trapped.


“When we reach the fork, we need to decide whether to stay the course, refresh in place, or pivot away.”

-Peter C. Atherton


Reaching the point of action can be sudden and unexpected.

We can be presented with a health-related issue, scare, or tragedy.  We can suffer a relationship issue, a separation, or a divorce.  We can also be forced to deal with an unexpected work-related downturn, restructuring, merger, acquisition, or layoff that forces us to give pause and take action.

On the other hand, reaching that point can also be more of a gradual process – a season of discontent that eventually wears on us to the point of action.  We are no longer willing to stall, or to make promises to not miss any more of those events, or make commitments to have a more normal schedule next year, after this quarter, or after this case – all which diminish our credibility and influence with those around us.

For me, it was both.  

For several years, it was a gradual process with many small steps taken to figure out and plan my exit to a second-half career with less regret and greater impact and significance.  But then, something unexpected happened that provided the final dose of courage and conviction needed to pull the trigger on the career I enjoy today.

No matter how we reach this point, there is almost always a transition period.  There is so much to learn and understand about all that led us to the place we’re at.  This is often new territory and can feel unsettling at times or even that we are lost in the wilderness.  The key is to regain clarity and perspective for our lives.

I provide a path in my book, Reversing Burnout. How to Immediately Engage Top Talent and Grow! A Blueprint for Professionals and Business Owners, with steps that take into account the fact that we all covet a “full life”.

Although a full life can be different for each of us and can change season to season, a desired full life is one that leaves us with no regrets and one that is able to balance our desire to excel and achieve in the workplace with our need for meaningful relationships with families and friends outside the office.  A full life for most also includes an appropriate dose of personal time for self-care and personal growth experiences.


The path is also designed to shed a light on the “Comfort”, “Money”, and “Momentum” traps that both hamper our transition and add to our burnout and discontent.

The Comfort trap being an unwillingness to adjust our lives in order to maintain that which is familiar – even if we know we want something better;

The Money trap being real, perceived, or ever-growing financial pressures resulting from debt, lifestyle creep, or ever-expanding financial targets; and

The Momentum trap being the flow of our past and present decisions, circumstances, or successes propelling us toward a similar, but undirected, future.

Leaders and organizations also need to be aware how the universal desire for a full life and the presence of these traps impacts engagement and performance in the workplace for all talent – but especially for top and seasoned talent.


“Top organizations realize that golden handcuffs can unwittingly bind top talent to disengagement and discontent if not purposely linked to greater impact and significance.”

-Peter C. Atherton

As we progress toward the fork, we need to identify the elements that may be out of balance or missing from our lives and understand what elements may be trapping us.  Only when we have gained sufficient clarity, can we consider our next steps.

These next steps often involve being willing to ask and to answer some of the “big questions” of life including:

Who am I?

 What is my purpose?

 Where do I want to end up?

 What do I want to stand for?

 How can I best leverage all that has happened to date?


Our answers will help inform whether it is best to stay on our current path with some adjustments or whether best to re-target the direction of our lives.

Making a course correction is not for the faint of heart or those who lack conviction.  It can be scary.  It takes knowledge and courage – even if it is the only path available to realizing our dreams.  As we work through this process, we need to acknowledge, face, and forge through our fears – our contradictory fears of things staying the same and our fears of missing out on a full life: the tug of war between FOTS and FOMO as we advance toward our fork.


To your winning,

PS – Ready to stop feeling burned out, disengaged, and like you are missing out?  Check out: 7 Weeks to Reversing Burnout and Avoiding It Forever Fast Start Program.

PSS – Click HERE or sign-up below to receive a free download of “10 Top Leader Traits to Thrive Today”

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Pete Atherton

About the Author

Pete is the President and Founder of ActionsProve, LLC, author of Reversing Burnout. How to Immediately Engage Top Talent and Grow! A Blueprint for Professionals and Business Owners, and creator of the I.M.P.A.C.T. process.  ActionsProve works with professionals and business owners to create greater growth and profits through more effective employee attraction and retention, impact, and branding.  Prior to founding ActionsProve, and for more than 20 years, Pete was a very successful and accomplished professional engineer.  Pete sold his engineering firm ownership to focus on designing systems for you and your organization to grow and succeed in more relevant and effective ways.  For over a dozen years, Pete has also been serving in multiple capacities in the non-profit sector to achieve both local and global impact, and is a co-founder of the 100 Men Who Care chapter for Knoxville and the 100 Men Who Care chapter for Southern Maine.

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Feeling Trapped… and the Fork in the Road