The word FOMO was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013. The Fear of Missing Out is the uneasy feeling, sometimes escalating to an all-consuming fear, that your peers are doing something better than you, or that they have something you desperately want.
Often, FOMO is assigned exclusively to young people who consume social media.
And, us older, wiser, well-employed adults look down on them for it.
A childhood friend becomes an incredibly successful entrepreneur.
Someone we hired gets promoted to a level above us.
We look at our Facebook feed and feel glum rather than happy.
Then, we realize that FOMO is just jealousy with a lovely new hairdo. Jealousy has been around since long before 2013.
And, jealousy is not limited to young people consuming social media.
How does FOMO affect us at work?
1. We believe that most success is “overnight success”
I attended a small business conference in my hometown of Savannah, GA in 2015 where the owner of a successful consumer products company spoke to the attendees. I am paraphrasing his opening line below…
“We are a 25-year overnight success story!”
He then went on to describe the failures, heartbreaks, long hours, and eventual success that marked his career. His point was a good one, though. The public was not watching him during the dark years. Journalists didn’t write articles on his financial woes and sleepless nights.
People started paying attention when he had something “worthy” to declare. Thus, his success appears to be instant.
So, the first thing we must remember when FOMO strikes is that everyone has dark times. Success is rarely a result of effortless magic.
2. We choose an unproductive response to our FOMO
FOMO comes from the same place as a desire to set goals. We perceive a gap between where we are and where we want to be.
So, one way to positively handle our FOMO is to set a specific goal to challenge ourselves to bridge the gap.
An unproductive response would be to wallow in self-pity, or worse, to engage in efforts to sabotage the targets of our jealousy.
3. We do EVERYTHING in order to miss NOTHING
A logical, if unsustainable, response to FOMO is to say “Yes” to every task, project, or responsibility that even tangentially comes our way.
We may think, “Well, I don’t want to miss an opportunity, so I’ll just do it all!” And, slowly but surely, we end up overscheduled and overwhelmed.
This is what happened to Seraphina.
Who is Seraphina? I’m so glad you asked.
Below, I am thrilled to reveal to you the cover of my first children’s storybook.
I feel like I have just shared a picture of my newborn child with you. Isn’t she beautiful!?!
Seraphina, like most of us, experiences FOMO regularly. And, she deals with it by participating in way too many activities after school and on weekends. She ends up tired, stressed, and sad. How often do you feel that way?
With some great advice from her dad, Seraphina decides to focus on the things she loves to do. Her life becomes more balanced as a result.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for ordering information. For now, I welcome any positive vibes you want to send my way. Seraphina has been a labor of love for me for over a year.
Life Without FOMO
FOMO, while exacerbated by social media, is not new. Social comparison and its impacts have been around forever.
We evaluate ourselves against external standards. And few people, regardless of age or level of success, are immune.
Acknowledging the issue is the first step.
“Hello, my name is Melissa, and I fall victim to FOMO.”
Set goals, choose mindfulness, and say “No” appropriately.
Get ready for your next “overnight” success.
In today's world, kids are often as over committed as adults. Seraphina does EVERYTHING! helps children, and the adults who love them, understand that life isn't all about doing. It's also about being!
Melissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.