Time Anxiety - Missed opportunities?

Why we feel we are always too late to the party and wasting our time
Time Anxiety - Missed opportunities?
Jake McNeill
June 17, 2021
5 min read
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Time Anxiety. What is it?

Time anxiety is the stress related to the belief that we are wasting our time. That there is no meaning in what we are doing. It also relates to the sense that we are too late to start a creative project in a crowded market i.e a YouTube channel or a podcast.

I’m halfway through a creative challenge. 

I am writing 50 articles in 50 workdays. So 5 articles a week.

I’m publishing 4,500-5,000 + words a week. Before editing them down, I’m writing circa 7-8000 words per week.

There are a few reasons for this.

  • I want to be a better writer. The best way to improve at anything is to do it more often. 
  • I’m learning. The Feynman method is a mental model to hack nearly any niche by studying, simplifying, and teaching others about it.
  • But mostly: I was suffering from time anxiety.

Researching and writing 5 quality articles and promoting them every week is not easy. I’m pushing myself to my limits. 

I mean I’m fine. I’m not surfing the precarious lines of burnout. 

But I couldn’t do more than I am currently doing. That makes me happy. Or free from Time Anxiety which in turn makes me happy. 

Missing Opportunities

We’ve all ruminated about missed opportunities, right? We have all seen the creator and knowledge economies explode.

We wish we’d started that YouTube channel a decade ago. Or took Twitter more seriously?

Mine? I wish I’d started my blog a decade ago. But I didn’t. 

As the Chinese proverb goes: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second-best time is now. 

Ruminating over missed opportunities is a waste of energy. I don’t allow myself to wallow in it.

I can’t change it, so I surrender to the feeling and let it go.

What’s important now is to zoom out and ensure the future you ( i.e you in 5 or 10 years) doesn’t look back and regret the missed opportunities you have in front of you right now.

You can use the past losses to hack your future wins. 

Every market is crowded

I get it. I feel the same at times. It seems like everything is at saturation point… so what’s the point, right?

But that is an illusion. In 5 or 10 years times you will look back at the very moment you are in now and wish you had started.

Saturated markets provide opportunities for savvy creators. 

While there are no guarantees, what we know about saturated markets is there is demand.

That is a given. I have written about this before, in order to stand out, you need to stand against the status quo. 

Stand against the bullshit in your industry. There is bullshit in every industry.

James Smith is a personal trainer. Health and fitness is one of the most saturated markets on the planet.

James has a 7 figure business. How? He stands against the diet industry. James believes they’re overpriced and unnecessary bullshit.

All people need to do to lose weight is to eat fewer calories and exercise more.

The diet industry doesn’t like James but the 1.5 million people who follow James, read his Sunday Times best-selling books, and buy his products clearly do. 

James is a great example of how to stand out in crowded markets. 

In search of meaning…

Time anxiety is often created with underlying fears. 

Existential dread or crisis is when we start to fear we have no purpose or life has little meaning.

We start to question who we are and why we are here.

You might get a sense that time is slipping away from you. That you want to leave a lasting mark on the world but you have been unable to do so.

Counterculture philosopher, Alan Watts talks about the backward law. The more we seek our purpose in life, the further away from it we will be.

Looking for our purpose only serves to remind us we don’t have one. 

I have written about a hack to help you find your purpose with just 5 questions. 

In my experience, you don’t find your purpose you create it. 

How do you create it? By starting something and constantly iterating it.

“Become the best in the world at what you do. Keep redefining what you do until this is true” — Naval Ravikant

Just start. In an area where your skills meet your interests. 

It will take iteration after iteration. You mustn’t be rigid in your thinking.

You will doubt yourself but your iterating is not a weakness, it is your strength.

To be the best in the world at what you do is not an easy find. 

When your search for meaning look at how you can serve others. 


  • What are your skills and interests?
  • What is the status quo of your market?
  • How can going against the status quo serve others?
  • James Smith simplifies dieting for his customers by removing the expensive and unnecessary bullshit.
  • What can you do in your market?
  • A bit about me

I help maverick artists and creators make a racket in crowded markets, crush the creative blocks that hold them back, and turn audiences into superfans

Every Creative Rebel’s worst enemy?

Lack of strategy. Creative mediocrity: Being bland. Staying in our lane. Creating in our comfort zone and following the crowds.

The Goal?

To create authentic work that matters. Take creative risks, avoid creative burnout, and make a full-time living with our passions.

I’m a former multi-platinum artist manager who got burnt out and became a creative blogger, coach, and consultant.

I’ve challenged myself to write 50 articles in 50 working days. 25 down, 25 to go.

You can read more in the archives here. Find out more information on my website or connect on my LinkedIn

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