You wake up in the morning, and before you even crawl out of bed, you are checking your Facebook news feed and your Twitter stream.
You see that a couple of your friends are out to lunch at a new restaurant that you had wanted to try out. Somebody else posted a status about the great time they had at a karaoke bar the night before.
And then you feel it.
It’s not easy to characterize in a single emotion, but you feel a mix of jealousy, regret, and insecurity.
How come you didn’t get lunch or go to the karaoke bar? Even though you had fun the previous night watching old episodes of Futurama on Netflix, you wonder why you didn’t do something more exciting.
And even though you really needed to catch up on sleep, you feel ashamed that you didn’t wake up a little bit earlier to get lunch.
You are experiencing “Fear Of Missing Out”, or FOMO. I had never heard the term FOMO until a few weeks ago, but it’s the perfect description for what I have noticed is an incredibly common feeling in myself and others.
So, What Exactly Is FOMO?
Before writing this post, I had to ponder for a while: what exactly is FOMO? After all, without a precise definition of what it is, trying to reduce it seems like an insurmountable problem.
Other people might have a different definition, but I’ve distilled FOMO into two major points:
- Thinking too much about what other people are doing, and
- Thinking too much about what else you could be doing.
Either way, FOMO involves being unsatisfied with your own situation or activities at any given moment.
As with anything, there are different degrees of FOMO. You might only feel it a little bit, or you might have a paralyzing fear of not being at the next cool thing that happens.
Why FOMO Can Be A Really, Really Bad Thing
Let’s be real here. There are an awful lot of awesome things happening, all of the time. You simply cannot do everything.
I realize I’m stating the obvious here, but very few people actually accept the fact they they can’t be everywhere at once.
“Missing out” is a fact of life. No matter what you do, there are a million things that other people are doing or that you could be doing instead.
But when you spend your time worrying about these things, there are negative consequences.
If you are constantly concerned with all the other possibilities, you will take away from the experience you are having then and there.
Right now I am writing this post instead of hanging out with people in my building. I love writing, but when I think about what else I could be doing, the pleasure of writing is lessened.
That is a small example, and not that big of a deal on its own. But if that is your default mode of thinking (which is the case for many people), you will experience much more fear, uncertainty, regret, and all sorts of negative emotions as you question your decision to do whatever it is you are doing.
This often leads to you getting less sleep than you should be. You feel like you should go to bed early, but your friend texts you with another alternative, and you are afraid to miss out on it.
Sound familiar? When you fall into this trap often enough, believe me, you lose an awful lot of sleep. Bad news.
Ultimately, I think FOMO boils down to a lack of self-confidence. In your mind, something or somewhere else is better than whatever you have going on.
But why can’t whatever you have done or are doing be at least as awesome? You need to change your mindset. Wherever you are is the place to be!
I’m not discouraging you from trying to do interesting things or encouraging you to be lazy. Rather, you should just reframe your thoughts about the situation. Instead of saying “no” to an awesome night out in the city, you are saying “yes” to a fantastic slumber that will leave you energized for a full day of interesting activities tomorrow!
In today’s world of constant connection to social media, it is so easy to feel as though we are missing out on something better.
But it is not healthy to think this way, and it takes away from the quality experience you are having at this moment in time.
Instead of being upset about what you are missing, be content with the great things that you do have.
Do you have any techniques for eliminating FOMO? Let me know.