We’ve all been there: hearing or seeing about an amazing opportunity or event in someone else’s life and having a sinking feeling in the pit of our stomach. The feeling is simple: I’m missing out. It’s even got an acronym now, FOMO or Fear of Missing Out. But how do we deal with this feeling and overcome it? This guide is here to help you show FOMO the door.
What Does FOMO Include?
FOMO is defined by the dictionary – which recently included it as a word – the “sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out.” It isn’t quite jealousy – it’s more like deep disappointment and anxiety at the feeling that others have better, more productive and more fulfilling lives than you do. Often social media is blamed for an increase in FOMO but it’s important to point out that it’s not really anything new. You hear about your friend’s amazing marriage and are glad for him or her but you also get a gnawing feeling that you’re wasting the best years of your life being single. You find out that your brother just got an outstanding job at a top firm and congratulate him – and you really are happy for him – but you also get the overwhelming sensation that you are a failure whose job at Foot Locker is the definition of missing out on career success.¹
First, The Bad News
It’s a good idea to get the bad news out of the way first, and the bad news is that FOMO can be very frustrating, and not all of us get it. So, if you’re experiencing FOMO it’s possible there are at least some areas of your life that aren’t quite clicking – and that’s OK! The key is to recognize that FOMO can sometimes be a real sign that something is missing, but also to understand that exaggerated black-and-white feelings of missing out on an entire experience are generally overblown and will take you down a negative rabbit hole.²
The Good News
The good news is that FOMO doesn’t have to dominate your life and it can become a thing of the past. It’s important to be realistic and admit that some comparison with others is inevitable even if we rarely check social media or engage in gossip. Still, the good news is that by working on your own goals and pursuits and forming friendships and social events which are meaningful to you, as well as cultivating positive self-esteem and self-respect, you can move past FOMO. You won’t be worried about missing out if you know you’re living your life in a way that’s authentic and meaningful to you.
The Fundamentals Of FOMO
There are some fundamental things to understand about FOMO and one of the most important is to realize that you might not be missing out as much as you think. Even if your friend’s relationship looks amazing, chances are her work problem has her worried out of her mind. Your college roommate’s new job at a top law firm sounds awesome, but you aren’t aware that he thinks his wife is cheating on him and has been drifting into becoming an alcoholic over the past three months. This is not to say that everyone’s life is equally fulfilling or unfulfilling. It’s just to say that you can empower yourself by what’s going right for you and building on your strengths instead of focusing on unrealistic ideas of what someone else’s life seems like from your limited perspective.³
Use Your Attention Wisely
The bottom line of avoiding FOMO is to use your attention wisely. Limit time on social media but also focus on your own goals, interests, friendships, relationships and family. In the time you have here make the best of it: even if you face a lot of setbacks and failures you’ll always be able to say you did your best. FOMO won’t make you stronger, it will just increase your regret and sadness and feed into a disempowerment cycle. Tap into an upward cycle of growth instead. Leaving FOMO behind is about going from entitlement to empowerment.²