Stop Driving Yourself Nuts: 3 Steps to Eliminating Your Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)

choicesIt’s Friday night after a big week. You’ve left your work behind, put on some comfy clothes, brewed some tea and settled on the couch for some good R&R… But first, you’ll check Facebook one last time…

Suddenly, you’re anxious. You feel frustrated, inadequate, envious even! Katie just checked in at that cool new pub downtown. Paul and Mark just posted a photo at the street food festival. Everyone is sharing their plans for a great night all over your newsfeed…

Forget a relaxing night in. You’ve got a serious case of FOMO.

Fear
Of
Missing
Out.

… to be exact, an inability to enjoy the present moment because you’re obsessed with the possibility of something else you might be missing out on.

Texting-c

FOMO is impulse driven, a reactive response to outside triggers such as phone alerts, social media updates, anything really that presents you with an alternative to your present situation.

FOMO doesn’t only occur in relation to social situations, either. Are you familiar with the phrase “at the right place at the right time”? It usually goes hand in hand with some success story, business-related or other.

This phrase can also freak the flip out of young professionals trying to succeed by overbooking themselves…

God forbid they forgo that 7am entrepreneurs’ breakfast on the other side of town, only to find out later that it would have been “the right place at the right time”! Oh the networking connections they could have made, the job offers they could have received, the business partners they could have linked up with! Heck, that one meeting could have made them a billionaire!

What it comes down to is an inability to cope with an overwhelming amount of choices. “Choice is an inherently stressful luxury,” says author Hephzibah Anderson, and I couldn’t agree more. The more we have to choose from, the more we have to miss out on.

So how can we keep calm and keep our FOMO at bay?

1)     Get Real

A big part of the Fear in FOMO is the idea that things might fall apart if we don’t constantly check up on them.

Our friends will forget about us if we miss that party. Our work will fall apart if we don’t answer every email immediately. Our future might be forever ruined if we make the wrong choice, because of the domino effect each opportunity might entail.

We need to get real. These fears are exaggerated.

Take it from Tim Ferriss who tests this in The 4-Hour Workweek: when he chooses to go on vacation, he totally unplugs from work, friends, family… Imagine the opportunities a guy like him must miss out on in a week without email and push notifications! But when he plugs back in to reality, the work is still there, and the friends and family too.

The truth is, things don’t fall apart so easily. Fear = invalidated!

2)     Slow Down

Like I said above, FOMO is a reaction. It’s not thought through. Slow down and reassess your initial reaction before acting any further.

If social media was your trigger, remember that Facebook profiles and Instagram feeds aren’t a reflection of reality. People like to present an idealized version of themselves online, competing for “likes” and comments in a web-based popularity contest.

BirdsFor all triggers, remember to put things in context. More often than not, you’re only observing a snapshot of the whole. The queue in front of that unmarked door could be a line-up to a top-secret show by your favourite artist who just so happens to be in town… or it could be a heck of a lot less glamourous.

This is one time when letting your imagination run wild is not in your best interest.

Take a deep breath. Be reasonable in your assessment of FOMO-triggers. See the value of what you already have. Remember what’s important to you, and what’s just fluff.

When you slow down, you’ll often find that what you think you’re missing out on really isn’t as great as what you’ve already got going on anyway.

3)     Trust Your Gut

Every morning we wake up with a limited supply of decision-making power. For real. When we run out, it’s called decision fatigue, and yes, that’s a thing. This power is precious, so don’t waste it on FOMO!

Essentially, the more decisions we have to make, the less able we are to make good decisions. Weighing pros and cons is tiring!

Fretting over whether you chose the right café, the right route to work, the right project to pursue, exhausts your decision-making supply. Fret too much and expect negative consequences when an important decision comes up, but you’re too used up to properly care.

Trust that you’ve already made the right decision for yourself and stop looking for a better opportunity. You just might find that you’ll be able to enjoy yourself more, and get more out of it, when you’re focusing on the present instead of comparing it to what could be.

FOMO is the curse of high expectations. It turns out that humans aren’t very good at predicting future happiness, and that’s usually what we’re trying to do when FOMO sets in. What we are particularly good at though is making the most of the moment once we choose happiness over distress.

Focus on what you have power over: you. Figure out what you want to do, forget about the others and just do it! You can only be at one place at one time anyway, so be fully present to it and let FOMO bother someone else.

When has FOMO captured you? What did you do about it? Share it in the comments!

Blessings,

Pia


About the author

PiaPia is a communications student in Montreal, working double time in public relations and managing a fitness club. She is an editor & contributor on The Feel Good Lifestyle, helping ensure that the killer content on TFGL is presented in the best possible way, so that you get the most out of each post. Email: pia@feelgoodlifestyle.com / Twitter: @pianeruda

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13 Comments

  • Hey Pia, impressive and inspiring article.Very useful tipps to avoid a depression on a Friday night were youre not going out. I like especially the part saying, that social media shouldn´t be taken too serious and that people create an artificial image of themselfes. Thanks alot :D

    • Hi Moravac!

      Thanks for your comment! It can be hard not to get caught up in the web, but as they say, you shouldn’t believe everything you read! We always have the power to choose how we react to things. Harnessing that power can make all the difference in the world :)

      Pia

  • Thanks for the great post Pia!

    I definitely experience FOMO sometimes… especially when I’m working hard on my business and sacrificing other things (mostly travelling).

    I think the most important thing is just to choose a course of action and totally commit to it. Do whatever’s in front of you with all your love and attention… And remember that it’s a long life and there’s in the long-run, there’s enough time for everything :)

    • Hey Phil!

      Totally agree, there is time enough in life for all the things we want to do. And if we can’t find the time, we can always find a way to make the time for what’s important to us ;)

      Being focused always beats rushing! It’s all about our state of mind.

      Pia

  • FOMO captured me after a breakup. I had been married long term, then divorced, then in a 2 year relationship. I discovered at the end of the relationship the sweet little piano player at church I was dating was having sex on the side with virtually any guy that smiled at her and complimented her – seriously, guys she had met days before as customers at her bank window (she is a teller). It kind of threw me into a year of promiscuity, having sex with something like 30-50 women. Her activities made me wonder if I was missing something. It was a crazy year, but I discovered I really am not as happy with all those partners, with crazy activities, and that I actually had less sex with dozens of serial partners than I did with one person. She was somewhat of an aberration luckily, most women arent so promiscuous as to sleep with anyone crossing their paths – she was hardly an enviable person and I have learned more what I want. Its a good thing to let some opportunities pass.

    • Hi Derek!

      That’s an intense situation. It’s great to hear that what you took from it in the end is a deeper knowledge of yourself, knowing better what makes you happy.
      Thanks for sharing :)

      Pia

  • Nice post! Very relevant to the information age; sometimes there seems to be an information overload!

    I often find myself compelled to look at my Twitter feed for no reason. I feel like I’ll miss out on something good, but in reality (being real) it’s not that important. Thanks for sharing the wisdom, I’ll do my best to share it as well.

    • … and then there’s that one time when something really good pops up on your Twitter feed and keeps you coming back for the 99 other times when there’s nothing there but fluff!

      I keep remembering to remind myself when I get sucked in by my social media networks that if there’s something really interesting going on someone in Real Life is bound to tell me about it. So far this has always held true for me!

      Thanks for the comment and shares, Adam.

      Pia

  • Great article, I am trying to convince my subconscious to comply!! I have just graduated and have moved home whilst I figure out my next step as I am skint! Living at home is depressing me as I am no longer surrounded by my friends as I was at uni and FOMO is plaguing my life! Not so much in the social context but as to what to do with my life. The problem is there are so many things I want to do but I worry about the order in which to them, if I pick one will I miss out on another? If I move away from home again will I miss out on a relationship here or will I find someone new? I know that worrying about these things is pointless but it is not helping me to make a decision! Thank-you though, I will keep trying to take your advice!

    • Hey Ellie,

      Being at a crossroads in life is FOMO breeding ground! Since our goals might not be set or clear at a time like this it’s so easy to get distracted. Step one, get clear on what you want and make it a priority!

      Stay strong and focused, and know that you have so much to look forward to :)

      Pia

    • Hey Ellie, maybe you’ve seen my article on big life decisions, but if not, I hope it helps!
      http://www.thefeelgoodlifestyle.com/how-to-make-big-life-decisions-in-6-steps.html

      Ginger

  • At my wife’s suggestion, I finally just got rid of my web-enabled “smart phone” and purchased a pay-as-you-go, vanilla “dum-dum” cel phone. Now I have no monthly contract and cannot waste time reading email from my phone (they tell me it actually has email capability, but I’ve never tried).

    When I drive home from work each day, I turn off the dum-dum phone completely, shove it in the charger, and spend an uninterrupted evening with my wife. My friends know that if they need to reach me in the evenings, they can call my house phone (I have a DSL connection in the house, which came with free telephone service. Sweet!) The next day, I just grab the dum-dum phone on my way out the door.

    It works for me.

  • Great article, but I kind of disagree through my own experience. I’m homeless and living in my van, and whenever I somehow manage to get out of my daily drudgery to something fun it’s always way better than I could’ve imagined. When you are deprived from things for so many years, just getting a new pair of socks or sitting around a campfire drinking beer with friends is the greatest thing in the world! I guess the less you have the more grateful you become, but it’s definitely a downer missing out on things.

So, what do you think?