a person sits with a cup of coffee reading a book covered in a blanket

Curing my FOMO with “No Plans November”

FOMO: the Fear of Missing Out. The sheer terror of not showing up for an event and missing the GREATEST MOMENT OF ALL TIME. 

See also: Being a people pleaser. 

I think busyness might be the biggest curse of my generation. Hilariously, while writing this, I just glanced at my Passion Planner’s weekly quote:

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”


Nobody seems to know what to do with their spare time anymore, including me. It’s not easy to sit and do nothing, especially when you’re a freelancer–you always feel like your work is never done…because it isn’t. There’s always something else I could be doing. 

I don’t do much for myself anymore. I don’t sit and read in the evenings–only in the mornings when my workday hasn’t really begun. I don’t draw or paint. I don’t spend a lot of time working on my own personal development, other than attending my fitness classes.

I have an incredibly large social circle with a wide range of folks in it: former co-workers, friends I grew up with, friends I went to university with, old roommates, artsy folks, etc. I get invited to a lot of events and to a lot of outings, and because my social circle is so spread out, I rarely get everyone together at one time.

This is why I often find myself meeting up with people 2-3 times a week for coffee, a drink, or dinner. (Let’s not even go into the monetary issues with this.) I stretch myself thin so I can see the people I love. 

And now that Mom is gone, I suspect I have been busying myself as a way to keep my mind of the gaping hole her absence has left in my life. I take on more work than I can handle, and when I’m not working, I’m drowning myself in social activity, TV, or something meaningless that adds no value to my life. I’ve made myself so stressed out that I have the inside of my cheeks chewed to pieces

I’ve pretty well binged the full SERIES of both The Office and Parks and Recreation in just a few weeks. That’s not okay. And reading? Forget reading. My brain can’t linger on a single sentence for longer than half a second at the moment. 

(I’m aware a lot of this has to do with grief. I’m still navigating those waters. I’ll write another post about what grief looks like now versus back then.)

Bottom line: I’m tired. I’m not helping myself. I’m not confronting my loss. And I’m spending far more money than I actually have.

In an attempt to cure my insane FOMO, I set up November as “No Plans November.” Here’s what that entails:

  1. Telling my friends to invite me to do things, but with the full knowledge that I may withdraw my willingness to participate at any time.
  2. Being non-committal to weekend plans and outings. (Yes, I’m the most annoying person in the world. I hate flakiness in a human being.)
  3. Scheduling time into my day to put away the laptop and just enjoy being on my own, whether it’s meditating, reading a book, or going for a walk. I also have a jigsaw puzzle now because I’m that person.
  4. Learning how to say “no” to things.

This started off on the wrong foot. I mean, look at the whiteboard I keep next to my fridge:

a whiteboard with a list of upcoming events

On the day that I was supposed to attend a Sociables event (basically a super casual networking thing), I messaged my friend Kayla (the organizer) to say I wasn’t feeling up to attending. But the guilt and the FOMO niggled at me so much that I eventually changed my mind, put on some clothes, and headed out…feeling like absolute shit.

And also because a friend had gifted me this BOO-BEES t-shirt and I really wanted an excuse to wear it.

While I never, ever regret attending events like these, I had spent that whole day dizzy and disoriented. I shouldn’t have forced myself out; I should have stayed in to take care of myself.  

There’s also the obvious expense of being busy all the time. I don’t have as much time to cook anymore; I’ve rarely used my kitchen since I moved in. I spend a LOT on going out to dinner or grabbing food, and even ONE drink with a friend adds up to $10-20 per outing. Often more. I spent $75 at Jack Astor’s this week, of all places. I don’t know how that happened. I ate two appetizers and a few beers.

This won’t fly if I want to start travelling again in 2020. I’ve booked trips to Japan (YES! More coming on that!) as well as to Scotland, Berlin, and Malta. If I’m being honest, I desperately need to feel some love for the world again. I need to be excited about something; I need to make travel a part of my life again. It’s what makes me happy, and right now I am terribly unhappy.

My daily goals are simple:

  • Spend some time meditating, journalling, or doing something for myself
  • Getting all of my work out of the way so I’m not working on the weekends anymore
  • Do at least ONE non-work related writing task (and that includes blogging)

So I want to know: how do you make space for yourself? How do you take time to do the things you love?

Balance is something I try to practice regularly, but it’s not without challenges. I would love to hear how you do the same!

  • November 14 2019

    Glad I enjoyed the post! Thanks for sharing this :)
    Nouran recently posted…Marrakech excursions: amazing tours and trips from Marrakech

  • November 14 2019

    I always say that we have one life, and the most important thing in this one life is our health and happiness. I love your ‘No Plans November’ idea, especially in light of it being to take care of yourself. Go for it!

    While I didn’t quite plan it so, I’ve pretty much also had a ‘no plan November’, and am loving it so far. Definitely will follow it through.

    Happy NOvember!
    Heidi recently posted…October Monthly Round-up

    • November 14 2019

      NOvember! BRILLIANT! Why didn’t I think of that?!

  • November 17 2019

    Guilty as charged! I’ve been struggling these past few weeks with putting WAY too many things on my plate and overwhelming myself to the point where I can’t even do things because I’m stressed about how to get it all done, and then I spend more time looking at my to do list than I do actually getting stuff done!! So, for this week coming up, I actually looked at what was physically possible to get done and then I scheduled LESS than that. It’s Sunday here in Australia and I already feel a huge weight lifted off my shoulders as I look at the week to come.

    I hope the rest of the month you can find plenty of time to spend with yourself and process all that you’ve been through over the past weeks.

    PS. I LOVE jigsaw puzzles :-)
    Rebecca recently posted…18 Useful Things to Know Before Travelling to Oaxaca, Mexico

    • January 14 2020

      HAHA I HAVE JUST STARTED DOING THE SAME THING! A few weeks too late I realize, but I think that has always been one of my biggest problems — I schedule in too much. There are only 24 hours in a day. Chiiiiill.

  • December 18 2019

    Oh Candace, I feel this! I am very social but also a homebody and extremely cheap, so the ways I carve out time for myself:

    -Schedule time to exercise so that it happens. Like, in my work calendar as if it is a client meeting.
    -Invite friends over for dinner instead of going out. It’s cheaper and more fun and I get to wear my slippers.
    -Have coffee or walk catch-ups with friends instead of beers/lunch. Healthier and cheaper.

    • January 14 2020

      I’m trying to incorporate that into my day planner as well! I was cramming about five workout sessions a week into my schedule, which was completely unsustainable (although I lost weight SO fast last year). I can’t possibly do it all. Yesterday I was supposed to go to the gym and then run some errands but wound up just doing the errands bit. The plus side is that I’m far more productive during the week so I’m actually reclaiming my weekends at long last

  • March 26 2020

    Wow! your blog is amazing, thank you so much for sharing.

  • April 14 2020

    thank you so much I like your amazing blog

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