Oh, for crying out loud: corona found me! I tested positive last week. And this after almost two and a half years of isolating at home, with the few exceptions including those lab and hospital visits for my anti-cancer program that are now over three months behind me.
Fortunately, I had already nourished my body by being fully vaccinated, eating healthy foods, and getting plenty of sleep. So now I benefit from having to nurse only a mild case of C-19—probably a later version of Omicron: a runny nose, achy muscles, occasional cough, low energy… but no fever, no breathing difficulties.
I’m frankly relieved to know that my natural immune defenses have remained strong enough to fight off the worst expression of the virus. This despite my probably being immunocompromised still with a lowered white blood cell count needed to create antibodies (I haven’t had my blood tested lately). I consider my current health status to be below excellent, but still quite good.
My self-care extends into my not pushing myself too hard in my work and mostly doing things that give me joy. Self-compassion is always my prescription, and especially when my body needs extra TLC.
Self-care is not selfish or self-indulgent. We cannot nurture others from a dry well. We need to take care of our own needs first, so that we can give from our surplus, our abundance. When we nurture others from a place of fullness, we feel renewed instead of taken advantage of.Jennifer Louden
In recent months, I’ve been alternating weeks drafting for my business newsletter and for this journal. Today I decided to cheat. But only a handful of people will notice; the few that read both. LOL.
Not only small business owners (my ideal clients) experience FOMO; we all do. So, this is a slightly edited version of my last week’s missive to my business list.
I have friends who believe they aren’t “serious” hobby photographers unless they have the latest camera or accessories. They’re constantly on the lookout for the updates. The hunt takes them a serious amount of time! All my cameras, by contrast, I (or more accurately, my honey) bought previously loved, and I never felt deprived or like I was missing out.
Other friends are fashion hounds. They seek the latest in designer furniture, designer clothes. While I’ve long had an eye for classic beauty and quality, I won’t, on principle, wear any garment or accessory that advertises the brand. That often prevented me from being one of the “cool kids,” and again, I fortunately never felt I was missing out.
But what I do chase is free digital information. I’m the silly owner of a hard disk full of nonprofit, business, and marketing advice, checklists, templates, swipe copy, PLR, courses; you name it, I’ve got it. I’ll probably not use any of it. And yes, it took me a serious amount of time to collect it all.
Last week, my heart skipped a beat when I lost all the open tabs in my browser. I can’t even tell you how many there were, but possibly over 50. Crazy, I know. Some were courses I had signed up for; others were sites with research I was doing. Maybe an unfinished Canva project or two… or three… Who knows what else?
So, what was that heart-skip about?
Most likely some version of FOMO.
What is FOMO?
FOMO is an informal acronym first seen used in 2004, according to the Miriam Webster Dictionary. Yet nearly a decade earlier, in 1996, marketing strategist Dr Dan Herman coined the term fear of missing out and was the first to research it (and to suggest brands exploit “scarcity” to trigger it—ugh).
Yet I’m going to guess that the anxiety of missing out has been around a lot longer than that! I also suspect social media—where everyone typically presents themselves at their best—has played a role in its growing prevalence; it surely has exacerbated it.
The dictionary defines FOMO as: fear of missing out—fear of not being included in something that others are experiencing. Others have added that it’s more than a case of minor envy; we attach fundamental importance to this something.
Fear of missing out single-handedly caused every single investment bubble in human history. No other emotion is more powerful than FOMO.Naved Abdali
I’m far from alone in getting sucked into the apprehension that we must be up on the best, latest, newest, shiniest [fill in your own blank]! Let’s see whether I can unpack this foolish thing a bit.
Dutch philosopher Svend Brinkmann explained,
I think we should see this predicament in light of consumer culture, which we have created for ourselves. Our culture depends on us constantly wanting more, constantly buying more and doing more. To be satisfied nowadays is almost a vice, because it means you’re content with what you have and therefore you’re not already chasing after the next thing. Today, for example, we talk a lot about personal development, about lifelong learning and the ability to constantly develop your competencies. But I see this as part of the same vicious cycle of wanting more, wanting new stuff, and always feeling the need to do things differently or better.
Before we can conquer FOMO, we must know how to spot it when we feel it. (Hint: it’s not only related to feeling envy on social media).
Here’s a partial list of things people fear missing out on:
- the best sale ever
- the most fun party, event, or experience someone else is having
- the latest tool or app
- the newest (fashion, cars, gadgets, etc) trends
- the free information, course, or any digital product
- the next “important” email message
- the latest local/global news
If any of these ever bring up the feels for you, you’ve experienced a version of FOMO. And yes, you’re still a wonderful human being.
After wasting two hours unsuccessfully trying to retrieve my tab history, I gave up (although I discovered what I had done wrong). At first I felt frustrated, thinking I’d lost valuable time already put in finding those sites.
But as the days wore on, my perspective changed. I came to feel that the loss was liberating. I’d been looking at those tabs, wanting to “deal” with them and feeling guilty because I wasn’t finding the time for it.
Now I was suddenly free to move on. A palpable weight lifted. And I know nothing important in my business got damaged.
And that gave me a clue on how to manage my FOMO.
Michael Leunig’s poem offered the first hint of what the antidote to FOMO might be: JOMO!
Let’s see how we could turn FOMO into JOMO—joy of missing out!
The benefits to managing this FOMO monster in our lives include getting more of what we really want, less overwhelm and anxiety, and well, just more JOY!
This may sound overly simplistic, but the key to losing our FOMO is to become more intentional about how we spend our time and money. We accept that we have choices in where we place our attention and we can mindfully decide what matters to us most and makes us happy.
Simple and not-so-simple steps we can take to increase our JOMO:
🌸 Plan our week mindfully, parse our to-do list, and prioritize our tasks (the more we do this and let other activities go, the less anxiety we feel)
🌸 Schedule in fun time and vacations first (yes, first!)
🌸 Block out “get it done” time in our calendar when we focus on one important task at a time (multitasking is a myth and drains energy!)
🌸 Start the week and day with top priority tasks, the ones that take our goals forward (that’s when our energy is highest and we are most productive, says research)
🌸 Limit checking social media, emails, and news headlines to one or two short booked periods a day
🌸 Unsubscribe from email newsletters that no longer serve
🌸 Identify negative triggers (including apps) and remove them
🌸 Limit screen time, go outside, and spend more in-person time
🌸 Ignore what others are doing and compare only our today’s self with yesterday’s self
🌸 Get comfortable saying “no” to non-priority things and people
🌸 Add more me-time and self-care for relaxation and reflection, including digital detox
🌸 Keep your big dream in focus, always
Which of these steps could you adopt immediately to reduce FOMO and increase JOMO towards more contentment and inner peace? What can you add to this list? What works for you?
PS. Now that I have completed my anti-cancer program, I may write less often, aiming for bi-weekly. If you haven’t already, I invite you to sign up to be notified when I post (top right on the menu).