How I Overcame My Fear of Missing Out and Built A 7-Figure Business
The following is a guest post by Lonnie Ogulnick, author of The Heart of a Beast and founder of Gordon Wealth:
If you’ve ever been in your early 20s and working in corporate America, you’ll know what I’m saying is true: It’s a grind.
Jumping out of college into any workforce is a wake up call—when grades become paychecks, the stakes get raised—but it’s especially bad in finance, where the competition is as extreme as the potential rewards.
Being a young man, I wasn’t prepared for that life. I knew conceptually that I would have to sacrifice for success, but I didn’t really understand what that meant. Let me give you an example.
My wife and I married young, and our closest friends were other young couples. We had a little group we’d vacation with and grab dinner with every week or so.
As my career progressed, it became harder to make those vacations.
I couldn’t grab dinner on a random Wednesday, because my responsibilities at work were too large.
I was terrified that I was missing out on my youth, and my friends weren’t very helpful. They told me routinely that I was missing out, and I believed them.
My work-life was twice as stressful, and even though my wife and I were otherwise happy, I believed I was letting her down by not being as social as the other guys in our friend group.
Then something incredible happened.
One of our friends got a job in a new city, and her and her husband moved.
Another one of our friends had a kid, and slowly became less social.
Within 2 years, that tight knit little friend group had naturally dissolved, with everyone moving on to newer, better chapters in their life, and none of us were upset about it.
I realized then that I’d been stressing for nothing.
As time went on, I developed this four step system for “going underground,” which is my phrase for committing entirely to a project—to the exclusion of the outside world—all without ever feeling like I was “missing out on life.”
1. Share Your Mission With Your Family
The most important part in committing yourself to a mission—like launching a new business or scaling an existing one—is to make sure your family internalizes it as their mission too. This is different than most advice about work-life balance.
Instead of sacrificing critical hours at work, I instead explain to my daughters exactly what I’m going to be doing at work, and why they are such an important part of it.
I tell them when I’m going to write a book, how that book is going to help our family, and how by being my support system, they are in a way writing the book too. They don’t feel like I’m neglecting them, they feel like our family is united in a goal.
When I do this, I’m also modelling to them how a successful grown up commits to their mission while still building a loving family.
When their mother commits to a mission, or when one of them commits to something (like my oldest, who has recently taken up jiu-jitsu), they see their family as part of that mission and always communicate the mission’s details with the rest of us. There’s a secondary benefit to this sort of communication, which comes into play when you finally go underground.
2. Shut Down All Outside Communication
When it’s time to grind, you cannot be distracted. I don’t answer emails, phone calls, or texts from people who aren’t connected to my mission. I leave home early for work, and I leave late. In that time, I don’t communicate with the outside world.
My family, because they understand they are a part of this mission, actually enable this by serving as my first line of defense.
Trying to get ahold of me about holiday plans?
Good luck getting through my wife.
Grandma calling to shoot the breeze?
My daughters are up for the challenge.
And of course, because they are a part of this whole thing, my family is still able to contact me.
If my wife called me to let me know our car broke down, I obviously wouldn’t be upset at her for interrupting my focus. But to the outside world, I’ve vanished while I’m underground. All that matters in that time period is that I get the work done, and my world becomes as small as it possibly can be while that happens.
3. Find A Setting That Facilitates Your Mission
When I was studying for my Series 7, I worked in my sister’s room. It’s weird, but she had the emptiest walls, nice natural lighting, and a good desk. There was no where else in the house that facilitated my focus quite like it, and so I convinced her to let me use it to study for 8 hours a day.
My office, while looking quite a bit different than my sister’s room, has a similar effect. I call it my cockpit. It’s where I conduct business out of a space that I can lock the rest of the world out of. You need that.
It’s hard to stay mission-focused in a space where you’re at the mercy of other people—i.e. any public space. You may not have the budget or inclination to create your own office, but it can be as simple as a room in your house with empty walls and nice lighting.
It’s not important what the room looks like, it’s important that it facilitates your mission and that you have complete control over it.
4. Apologize Later
When I surface, I immediately go through the giant list of missed calls, texts, and emails I’ve accrued over the last couple weeks. I write people back, I take people out to lunch, I invite people over to hangout with the family, and most importantly, I tell them, “Sorry, but I was underground.”
A lot of people fear this step. They think people will feel like you prioritized work over them, like they aren’t valuable in your life.
Here’s the thing you need to know about that fear: People who are worth having in your life will honor your mission and want you to succeed.
At a certain point, you won’t even need to explain this to your friends anymore, because they’ll know that when you go silent for a few days, it’s because you’re underground. They’ll respect that, and wait for you to surface.
The 7-Figure Difference Between FOMO and Focus
Figuring all of this out took me a long time, but once I did, everything changed. Going underground like this, with no fear of missing out, I found that my work became incredibly less stressful.
That reduction in stress allowed me to push myself farther and harder than I ever had. It also allowed me to focus on the few people who I always extremely close to me, my family.
When I decided to launch Gordon Wealth, they knew the mission, and that I’d be absent for a little while. A little while became a long while, but eventually, the business hit seven figures.
My wife and kids had their own missions in this time period, and they always knew they could interrupt my day if they needed to.
As a family, we aren’t constantly trying to balance work and life, terrified of what we might be missing out on. We’re each individually focused on what comes next, on achieving our missions, and celebrating each other's’ victories.
Lonnie Ogulnick is the author of The Heart of a Beast.