From FOMO to JOMO: Overcoming Our Fear of Missing Out

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🖊 This article was last updated on June 12, 2019

You’ve probably felt it too: that strong urge to sign up for another online course or podcast, or to check out another new app because you don’t want to miss out on the latest trend.

Or maybe you’ve been feeling good about where your life’s at. You’ve been building your business slowly over the years. Then you come across Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list, and suddenly, you feel like a late bloomer. You see your friends getting promotions, traveling, expanding their businesses. You start thinking maybe you made the wrong career move, or maybe your accomplishments are really nothing compared to your peers’. Now you’re under a FOMO spell.

But what exactly is FOMO?

The Collins Dictionary defines FOMO (or the fear of missing out) as the “anxiety arising from the belief that other people are leading more active and fulfilled lives.”

While the term FOMO is quite new, it has always been part of the human experience. Many of us have dealt with feeling left behind in life years ago. But with social media and other electronic resources at our fingertips, the fear that we are missing out has grown stronger. We want to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies. We scroll through an endless stream of pictures, videos, and memes, liking, commenting, until we feel uneasy and the thought, “Am I living the best life I can live?” dawns on us.

For us entrepreneurs, FOMO may also rear its ugly head through the Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS). We often come across new apps and software which seem to have better features than what we are already using. To make it even more irresistible, these are bundled with other great offers or are available at discounted prices for a limited time to increase scarcity!

As difficult as it is to pass up such seemingly perfect, once-in-a-lifetime offers (I’m looking at you, AppSumo…), we need to make sure we do not allow FOMO to distract us from our goals.

Turning FOMO to JOMO

It would have been much easier if someone had invented an app that could switch off our FOMO. But the truth is, FOMO never really disappears. Each time we make a choice to do one thing, we forego other options. There will always be a part of us that wonders what we may be missing out on…

The idea of foregoing something leads to negative feelings because we associate it with a loss: losing something good, fun, important, or fulfilling.

But there’s another side of the coin: When we forego something, we carve out time, or create a space for something else, for something more. Thinking of our losses from the perspective of JOMO (the joy of missing out) allows us to see what we gained from the trade-off.

The Collins Dictionary defines JOMO as the “pleasure gained from enjoying one’s current activities without worrying that other people are leading more fulfilled lives.” (doesn’t that sound nice?)

JOMO does not mean we bury our fear or sadness over missing out on some experiences, especially things we really want. But JOMO invites us to be more mindful of how we choose to spend our time and where we pour our attention based on our current priorities.

Below are four tips to help you overcome FOMO and turn it into JOMO:

1. Be clear about your values and priorities. Then make decisions based on them.

Are your relationships important to you? Make sure you put them in your schedule. Remember that social media platforms are not replacements for face-to-face meet-ups or calls. Use social media to deepen your relationships, instead of substituting “likes” for long chats and deeper conversations.

For your business, be clear about your business direction. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Is this in line with my business priorities?
  • Will this solve my business’s most pressing problems?
  • Is this the right time?

Knowing what you value is so important because it will help you decide what to focus on and what to ignore.

2. Be fully present

Once you decide where to spend your time, energy, or finances, fully commit to it. If you choose to spend time with your family instead of working on your business, give your family your full attention.

Instead of enrolling in multiple courses at the same time, focus on one course then immediately apply the concepts in your business. Using these at once has several benefits:

  1. practicing what you learn will help you retain more information
  2. you will be able to identify the gaps, i.e., what else you need to learn

Then you can look for courses that teach exactly what you need, allowing you to build on what you’ve learned instead of starting several courses, then finishing or mastering none.

If you decide to work on your business instead of watching Netflix, focus on your tasks and switch the TV off. This will help you create quality output,since you won’t be splitting your attention between your work and your favorite show.

3. Have a healthy relationship with technology

To be able to make the most out of technology, we have to learn to master it, instead of letting it master us. We can do this by being intentional about how we use it. For instance, we can set limits on how many times we check our emails.

In a previous article, I shared how going on a media diet gave me more time to spend on my business. I skipped reading the news online and offline. Instead of listening to the radio while in my car, I tune in to podcasts and listen to audiobooks. These allowed me to grow my business consistently, and further hone my skills so I can better serve my audience and clients.

You can also make social media a bit more inaccessible to you. For example, I leave my phone in the room while having dinner. This way, I can have more meaningful conversations and I can enjoy my meals.

Want to take it a step further? Try uninstalling your social media apps from your phone, so you are not tempted to scroll up and down Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

4. But sometimes, FOMO reveals a change you need to make

Ask yourself: “What is this fear of missing out telling me?” It may be reminding you of a dream you’ve been postponing or given up on.

In their article “Fighting FOMO: 4 Questions That Will Crush the Fear of Missing Out,” Brett and Kate McKay point out that FOMO may be a sign “that you aren’t happy with your current life and there is something out there you wish you were doing instead.” If this is the case, give it some serious thought. If you realize you really want to pursue that dream or make that change, then take action.

When torn between things that are truly important to you, ask yourself: “Is there really no other way to do this?” Find solutions, and if there’s none, create one. Just don’t give up without trying.

obsessive passion leads to higher burnout

Conclusion

Our lives will always be defined by the choices we make and the paths we do not take. FOMO will always be within us, keeping us from being fully present.

The only antidote is to reaffirm our values and priorities, and to be at peace with our decisions’ trade-offs. When FOMO kicks in, we can remind ourselves WHY we chose one option and not another.

When we learn to fully embrace our lives as it is now while remaining focused on our goals, FOMO will have less power over us. We finally learn to focus less on what we miss, and more on the joys and opportunities that are already right in front of us.

What are your main takeaways from this article? What strategies are you using to overcome FOMO and cultivate JOMO?


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