Navigating through FOMO

The nature of our lifestyles and the ever-expanding influence of social media has given us a heap of first world problems. One that dominates all is of course the Fear of Missing Out, more popularly known as FOMO.

Kudos to Generation Z and us Millennials for stimulating the geeks in the Valley, for inventing a new addictive platform every few years. Who would have thought a bunch of 30-second trend-setting dance videos would serve as the highlight of our day!

FOMO aint a new concept though, but one that’s certainly consuming our lives more than ever.  In a way, it runs in our DNA. The early sapiens travelled thousands of miles from one end of the world to another, bearing hardship and extreme conditions, all to explore if something better was out on the other side! However, the difference lay in the motive. Their mission was fuelled by their curiosity and a desire for exploring the unknown. Now our missions while still involving curiosity are mostly about doing things to prove our worth to our next-door neighbour.

What we need to recognise is that at the core of FOMO lies social comparisons, which is where the real problem is. Comparison in itself is rooted in our education and parenting systems. Even top performers barely get away without being compared to their siblings or peers, on the basis of how ‘they could be or do better’.

Blame us for feeling inadequate every time we see an influencer with a million followers, chilling by the poolside with a Martini in Monaco?

Our brains are wanting machines. We’re always looking for bigger, better and more. And while it’s great to be looking up to others for the purpose of inspiration, things can go downhill when the cravings strike at the cost of your own peace of mind and happiness.

One of the most notable studies in this regard traces back to average income satisfaction levels conducted by Clark and Oswald (1996). On testing 5000 British workers they found that individuals were less happy with their jobs if their co-workers had higher salaries! In many cases, it’s the same story today, if not worse.

Having the background to FOMO certainly creates awareness but the challenge is in navigating through it. Truth is that living life on your terms intentionally and with purpose makes you less susceptible to the nasty effects of FOMO such as disappointment, dissatisfaction and frustration, potentially leading to reduced self-esteem, inferiority complex and depression. If you find yourself stuck in these states more often than not, that calls for the need to start making different choices.

One of them includes choosing to spend time with yourself. You heard me. Even starting with little things like turning your phone on Airplane mode to read a book or making yourself your favourite cup of coffee while enjoying every sip of that. Whether it’s listening/ dancing to music, working on your passion project or taking a walk in nature, do things that YOU personally enjoy. Before you know it, you’ll be able to turn down an invitation to a party only to sit at home in your PJ’s and embrace JOMO- the Joy Of Missing Out!

More importantly, focus on what you’ve got rather than what you haven’t. If you really want to get into the comparison business, compare yourself with who you were yesterday and how you choose to grow every single day.
Honour your journey and quit looking at what others are doing.  You never know their real story. You only know yours, because that is what you’re here to create.

Leaving aside the influence of social media, beating FOMO really comes down to being able to live in the present moment, enjoy it for what it is and appreciate whatever it is that you have.

So even though you may be provoked to be whiling away your time comparing yourself with your cousin who’s got a business going at 22 or the friend who’s killing it on Instagram touring around the world, you always have the choice of finding ways for celebrating yourself every day.

Give it a shot. Don’t wait for 20 years to pass, when you have the option to toast to your magnificence today.

Care to share?

Feel free to comment with any thoughts or takeaways.