FOMO – the Fear Of Missing Out
Many years ago, before I had a child and a partner and moved to another country, I used to say yes to every invitation. A friend once commented that I’d ‘go to the opening of an envelope!’ I went out for drinks, to the theatre, for dinners, concerts, dancing and to the cinema. I went on weekend breaks, spa days and holidays. I was always super busy.
Thankfully it was before I was on Facebook and social media but I had a strong sense of FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out). Although I was doing a lot of work on myself, I was still in a place of low self-esteem and a cycle of negative thinking. I compared myself to others and I compared my life to other people’s lives. I always felt they were better than me or happier than me or more successful. And this made my FOMO worse.
Luckily, by the time I joined Facebook in 2014 and was on social media, my inner self-esteem and resilience was more developed and I wasn’t so greatly affected by other people’s posts. I’d also go to a point where not only could I reframe situations but I genuinely embraced them. For example, when I was single, I often went out during the week but didn’t have plans at the weekend. In the past I would have felt I was missing out on something and would feel lonely or even unloved.
But over time I embraced the time to disconnect, to spend time in solitude, cuddle with my cat, rest and read. And if someone asked me what I was doing at the weekend I would genuinely smile and say ‘absolutely nothing’ and feel so happy about that.
FOMO was added to the Oxford dictionary in 2013 and defined as the “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media.”
The term was coined by Patrick J. McGinnis, a venture capitalist and author, while studying at Harvard Business School. For many people, FOMO becomes a recurrent concern that they might miss an opportunity, a social interaction, a profitable investment, or other satisfying things.
Reasons for missing out
So what causes us to feel that we are missing out?
- Social media – FOMO is particularly linked to comparing ourselves to others on social media and feeling that we are missing out.
- Loneliness v solitude – there is a difference between choosing to spend time alone and feeling lonely. When we feel lonely we are more likely to compare ourselves less favourably to others.
- Anxiety/ low self-esteem/ external happiness not internal happiness- when we have low levels of self-esteem, experience anxiety or seek happiness externally, then we can feel that other people are happier and have their lives more figured out.
A survey conducted in the US and the UK found that the majority of young adults (ages 18 – 34) want to say yes to everything because of their FOMO. Many feel like they don’t invest enough energy or time in exploring new topics or interests due to it.
The good news is that there is an alternative to FOMO. Let me introduce you to JOMO (the Joy Of Missing Out), a term coined by Anil Dash in 2012.
Joy of Missing Out: You’re enjoying what you’re doing in the here and now and not on social media broadcasting or seeing what everybody else is doing. Opposite of FOMO or the fear of missing out.
6 Tips to Embrace the Joy Of Missing Out
So, how do you embrace JOMO? Here are my 6 tips:
- Disconnect from Tech
Reduce the amount of time you spend on social media and have regular time when you completely disconnect from tech.
- Reflect – how are you spending your time?
Take some time to contemplate how you are spending your time and how it makes you feel. Be honest, are you doing things because they bring you joy or because you worry about missing out.
- Become more intentional with how you spend your time
Now spend some time consciously deciding what is important to you and your happiness and how you want to spend your time. What activities or events fit in with your goals or priorities? Would you benefit from time alone or resting?
- Reconnect with people
So much of our communication and relationships take place online. Disconnect from tech and reconnect with people. Relationships are an essential part of our happiness so prioritise the people that make you feel great.
- Be mindful. Be more present
Learn to become more mindful. Cultivating JOMO includes slowing down and becoming more in the moment. Bring awareness to your emotional and physical needs and choose to be more present in your life. (check out my 21 Day Self Compassion Journey and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction courses to learn the skills).
- Practice saying NO
An obvious one but one that is difficult for many people. Learn to say no to things without fear or guilt. Consciously choose only what is necessary or brings you joy.
Embracing more JOMO in your life will bring you so many benefits including more balance, joy and happiness .