7 Things To Tell Yourself To Fight Off FOMO
‘Shit, this guy is so successful. And where the fuck am I?’
I can’t even remember the number of times I had this toxic thought run through my mind. And every time, I had to calm myself down by saying,
“Sergey, who cares what you achieve? Just focus on doing something you enjoy. You’ve got your own thing. You’ve got your path.”
But it’s not as easy as it sounds.
FOMO — or, fear-of-missing-out — is what many of us, especially Type-A personalities, go through. It’s better characterized as the feeling that we’re not doing enough, learning quickly enough, achieving enough, being enough.
It’s stimulated every time we see somebody else achieve successes — even if it has nothing to do with our dreams and inspirations. It’s lurking behind every corner on YouTube, Medium, Instagram, or a casual conversation with our former college classmates.
FOMO takes over us when people ask us what we do, and we have nothing new to show for. Not yet, anyway.
“So, what have you been up to lately?”
“Oh, I…well, the usual thing.”
When I experience FOMO, there are a few things I remind myself of.
1. FOMO is natural.
It’s a sign of ambition. It’s a symptom that you care about your life and where it’s headed. It’s a good sign. And it doesn’t make us bad people.
2. We’re not our feelings.
Just because you experience unpleasant emotions doesn’t mean you have to trust those emotions. Just because you feel your life is headed nowhere doesn’t say it’s so.
FOMO is fear, and fear can often paint a delusional image of reality.
3. There’s nothing you should be doing.
A healthy approach to life is to wake up each morning and tell yourself, “No matter what I do today or how much is left undone, I know one thing: I am enough.”
Stop defining yourself by the amount of work you do. You’re not your work. And if you think you are, that’s something worth fixing.
4. Everybody feels FOMO.
It’s easy to feel alone when you’re experiencing as if life goes too quickly. Sometimes, FOMO can feel like running on a treadmill that’s too fast for us to catch up with. Remember that these feelings are part of the human experience.
Life is not just about feeling good; it’s also about feeling bad sometimes — that’s what gives the good feelings it’s worth.
5. FOMO is the dizziness of connection.
The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard called anxiety the ‘dizziness of freedom.’ FOMO and anxiety are similar in this way.
We live in a world that’s one big Glamour magazine, with reality-TV staring at us from every step. The fact that you experience FOMO is not your fault. It’s the price we pay for being interconnected.
The best thing you can do for yourself? Shut off the noise. Limit your social media use.
6. Live in day-tight compartments.
There’s a quote that’s often attributed to Dale Carnegie — the author of How To Stop Worrying and Start Living. It goes like this: “Every day is a new life to a wise man.”
It’s easy to get caught up in thinking about the past — replaying old conversations, thinking of better ways something might go. Or living too much in the future, thinking about how great it would be to have X amount of money or having achieved Y goal.
But the liberating truth is that there’s no past or future. Those things are concepts. They are inventions of people. The only thing we’ve got is this moment, this day.
It’s all we control.
7. It doesn’t matter what you achieve.
But most importantly, I remind myself that 99.9% of people don’t become the ultra-successes we see online. It’s easy to forget, but your chances of becoming Elon Musk is statistically at 0.1%. Do I want my self-esteem and self-worth to rely on that 0.1%?
That would mean that with 99.9% certainty, I would fail in my own eyes — a scary prospect.
I can’t say I don’t have FOMO, and these things work all the time. They don’t. Sometimes I get caught up in envy, self-loathing, and blame. But reminding of these seven things helps me regain the missing perspective on my life.
Because that’s what FOMO is: it’s the perspective killer. It makes you think in terms of days, hours, not months and years. It makes you impatient, stupid, reckless, jealous.
The next time you feel that, take a breath and remind yourself: it’s all OK. There’s nowhere to rush.
You’re already where you need to be.