It’s Friday night. You’re at a friends house, doing nothing in particular. It’s enjoyable, but standard. Routine. Maybe it was getting cut off while driving on the way here that put a damper on your mood.
Either way, it’s a solid 6.
Taking a break from Mario Party, you take a longer-than-socially-acceptable cruise through Instagram — and notice a post shared by one of your other friends. They’re out at a club. Seems like a great atmosphere. That song sounded awesome. She was hot.
They’re probably having a better time than I am. You think.
Did I make the right decision? I really wanted to see my friend. I only have 2 nights a week to really have fun, I have to work the others. That’s not a lot of time, my time needs to be spent well. Was this a good idea? I should’ve gone with them…
We’ve all had some experience like the above.
Stuck in a pity-party or relentless indecision because we have a deep-seated fear of missing out. This gnawing, empty feeling in our stomachs causes us to second-guess every decision, and commit to nothing until the last minute — to make sure that nothing better pops up.
FOMO drives a large part of our social lives. It causes us mild, persistent anxiety, and it can detrimentally impact the quality of your daily experience and social relationships.
Does it have to be this way?
Do we have to live with this low-level anxiety that follows us around like our shadow?
What would the opposite of this look like?
JOMO. The Joy Of Missing Out.
It might seem counter-intuitive at first. How can you be happy to be missing out? Is that possible? Are you somehow wrong or flawed to feel this way?
Living By Your Values
There’s a saying that goes, “If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.”
This is the underlying reality of FOMO. Most people have no clear direction that they want to move in. No firm values that they stand behind.
Most people are in a constant state of falling for whatever the most interesting thing is. Falling for whatever the most popular person is doing.
None of it is exactly what they want to do (because they don’t know what they want to do) — so they constantly seek the best possible experience to compensate.
This introduces the endless cycle of constantly ‘shopping’ for experiences. And endless search for novelty, hedonism, and just a dash of escapism.
Because they do not conduct the orchestra of their own lives, they search out the best possible maestro to do it for them.
When you become the conductor of your own orchestra, you do not worry about what others are doing. You focus on creating the best piece of work you can. You are immediately focused on your work, and anyone who is willing to listen or share the experience is a bonus.
The key to avoiding FOMO is to stand by your values. To set a firm direction and move towards it.
If you are committed to getting healthy, and need to use your free evenings at the gym — you will go to the gym when you are free. Even on a Friday or Saturday evening.
If your friends are going elsewhere, you can go to the gym with confidence because you know it is moving in the direction you want to go. It is living by the values that you have.
Instead of having a fear that you’re missing out on something, you’re actually joyful to be missing it — because you know it is not what you want or need.
When building a life of our dreams, knowing what not to do is as important as knowing what you should do.
Do you fear every time you have to say no to something that does not serve you? No. You are proud to, to have loved yourself enough to move towards your dreams. To be taking continual, small steps in the right direction.
You do not fear what others are doing, in fact you can become even happier for them, because they are spending their time how they want to.
There is no reflexive Instagram check-in, because you’re already exactly where you want to be.
Finding Your Joy and Direction
The shift from FOMO to JOMO comes through narrowing your focus.
If you don’t know what you want, everything is an option. Any activity is a viable candidate. Then you have to choose. You’re now stuck in what is known as the paradox of choice.
The more choices you have, the less happy you will be with whatever you choose. This is because you can imagine all the other options you had available to you. (This is why you should pick something to eat quickly at a restaurant, then close your menu)
In order to make this shift, you need to have a focus. You need to have direction. A direction can be “live in accordance with my values.” But this rests on the foundation of knowing what your values are.
So how do we find our focus, our direction? How do we construct a value system we can build our life around?
Inquiry and Exploration
Try asking yourself a few questions:
- What activities do I always feel worse after doing?
- How would I spend my time if I didn’t have to worry about a job?
- What does my perfect day look like?
- What actions or behaviours bother me in other people?
- What do I want to accomplish?
Make a list of these things. The answers will serve as a North Star. They set the direction on your compass, so that you can begin moving forward.
Once you have a direction, then create focus. Focus is each of the individual tasks, activities, or steps you need to take to move in the direction you set.
This is where the shift starts to happen.
Once you know the specific activities you want to do, you also know the things that you don’t want do. You don’t want to do anything that does not move you in the direction you want to go.
Now, instead of being confronted with the infinite possibility of decision, the choice has been made for you. No longer must you fear making the wrong decision, you just need to say yes to that which pushes you forward, and no to that which pulls you back.
There is no fear, there is only joy. A sense of pride and accomplishment for taking charge of your life. For building the life that you want. For living the life of your dreams.
Walking the Path
Now, the path it takes to build your dreams isn’t always roses and blue sky. It takes hard work. It is not constant bliss.
The key here is that you no longer have to doubt what you are doing. You don’t have to worry if someone is ‘doing it better’ or ‘having more fun’ — this is only your path to walk and experience.
In narrowing your focus, in living your values, you have now found true freedom. The freedom to live your authentic expression.
You have found the joy of missing out.
I'm a creator, artist, writer, and experience designer. I help people become themselves.