FOMO, which is an acronym for “Fear Of Missing Out”, is becoming more and more of an issue in this hyper-connected world. All it takes is thirty seconds on any social media platform, and suddenly we feel left out, less important, not as smart, not as funny, or worse- not enough. In Brené Brown’s book Rising Strong, she talks about the negative impact FOMO can have on our lives.
“The ‘fear of missing out’ is what happens when scarcity slams into shame. FOMO lures us out of our integrity with whispers about what we could or should be doing. FOMO’s favorite weapon is comparison. It kills gratitude and replaces it with “not enough”. We answer FOMO’s call by saying YES when we mean NO. We abandon our path and boundaries and those precious adventures that hold meaning for us so we can prove that we aren’t missing out.
But we are. We’re missing out on our own lives. Every time we say YES because we’re afraid of missing out, we say NO to something. That something may be a big dream or a short nap. We need both. Courage to stay our course and gratitude for our path will keep us grounded and guide us home.”
Look back on the decisions you made over the past few weeks. Was there something FOMO caused you to say YES to?
- Walking to Starbucks with your co-workers when you really needed to stay behind and finish the project out of fear they would have a fun conversation you would miss out on.
- Buying a ticket to a concert because ALL of your friends posted on Facebook they were going even though you know your budget is tight out of fear they would have the MOST EPIC NIGHT EVER without you.
- Signing your child up for yet another activity highly recommended by your mommy friend even though you know your child just needs a break from the hustle out of fear of what other mommy friends will think of you.
There are a million scenarios, but in the end, each time FOMO wins, it can crush our spirit.
FOMO can’t win without FEAR. And fear can’t win when it’s confronted with the truth. So it hides the truth, instead filling your mind full of false information. A friend of mine recently shared this acronym for “F.E.A.R.”:
False Evidence Appearing Real.
When we don’t have all of the information, our brains are actually horrible at filling in the gaps. We believe the lies, or false evidence, as truth, and we make decisions based on those lies. Seth Godin calls it the lizard brain. Those thoughts and feelings are not true, and they hinder our ability to become the best-version-of-ourselves. Don’t let FEAR or FOMO guide you off course. Here are a few strategies to keep them at bay.
- Planned Neglect: In the book Walking With Purpose, Lisa Brenninkmeyer tells the story about a famous concert violinist. When she was asked the secret to her success, she replied, “Planned neglect.” Then she explained, “When I was in music school, there were many things that demanded my time. When I went to my room after breakfast, I made my bed, straightened the room, dusted the floor, and did whatever else came to my attention. Then I hurried to my violin practice. I found I wasn’t progressing as I thought I should, so I reversed things. I deliberately planned to neglect everything else until my practice period was complete. That program of planned neglect, I believe, accounts for my success.” What can you plan to neglect so that you can focus on your most important work? Instead of checking social media as soon as you wake up, plan to neglect it until you have completed your morning workout, spent time with your children, planned your day, or cleaned your home.
- Pull, Don’t Push: I’m convinced those “push notifications” on our devices are killing our ability to live in the moment. The second you hear the beep or see the information flash across your screen, FOMO has won. Because guess what, that hysterical Facebook post you just shared, Susan just commented. SUSAN! As in- everyone loves Susan because she is THE funniest, prettiest, smartest woman in all the land. And SHE commented on YOUR post. I bet she said something funny. Classic Susan. Read it! READ IT NOW! You have to comment on her comment! Think of something funny to say. Never mind the work meeting you are in the middle of, or the child begging for your attention to help you with his lego building. WHAT DID SUSAN SAY?!……Last year I decided to turn off ALL “push” notifications. I decide when I want to “pull” those notifications by logging into those apps. I TRY (sometimes I fail) to do it when I don’t have something else (or someone else) more important that needs my full attention. When my loved ones are trying to speak to me, and I continue to look down at my device, half listening, I am communicating loud and clear “this device and the information on it is MORE IMPORTANT than you”. I am modeling this behavior to my precious children, who will likely become copy-cats. Put the device down. Find quiet times throughout the day when that device is the ONLY thing that needs your attention.
- Say It Out Loud: FEAR doesn’t like the light of day. It grows best in dark, quiet places. When FEAR and FOMO flood your mind with false evidence, say those thoughts out loud. Share your thoughts with a friend, or just say them out loud to yourself. Sometimes the simple act of verbalizing your thoughts and hearing them out loud is all you need to realize just how ridiculous it sounds.
Don’t let FOMO allow FEAR to keep you from becoming the best-version-of-yourself. Work on developing self-awareness so you can kick them to the curb next time they knock on your front door.