Caroline Gleich on Dealing with FOMO
Take it from skier Caroline Gleich and don't miss out on the moment in fear of missing out on something else. This and more on FOMO. Read more.
“FOMO”, it’s that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you scroll through Instagram and see someone else doing that thing you’ve always wanted to do. It’s the “fear of missing out” on shredding the deepest pow, going on your dream vacation, capturing that epic sunrise or sunset.
All of a sudden, it’s like a dark cloud settles over your head. It’s a feeling of intense jealousy or envy that almost feels uncontrollable. You almost lose the ability to check your own feelings. Social media makes it a million times harder because there’s constant visibility into the amazing things other people are doing. And even if the person isn’t actually doing that activity on the given day they post, it still triggers the FOMO.
I admittedly suffer from FOMO on a daily basis. I wonder if I’m doing enough.
When I feel this way, one of the first things I do to combat the spiral is remember the reality that most of us only share the highlights and best photos of our lives. It’s not nearly as easy to post about personal struggles like breakups, injuries, bills we have to pay or the other stresses of life.
Even in my position, when I’m doing activities that other people may have FOMO about, the situation isn’t always as it seems. For me, deep, sunny powder days are workdays where I have to be out with a photographer, skiing a few turns at a time, while other people are skiing the longest runs of their lives. As much as I probably cause feelings of FOMO in others, I am just as susceptible, myself.
After I pull out of the downward spiral, it’s important to delve deep into the fear of missing out, and ask, “What am I most afraid of missing out on in life?” In this practice, I realize that perhaps the emotions do not have to be conquered. Maybe they are there for a reason and they provide powerful opportunities to address unmet needs in life. Are you jealous that you didn’t take that vacation of your dreams? Are you envious of someone else’s fitness and disappointed with yourself for not having the discipline to reach a goal? Do you perceive someone else’s life to be easier than yours because of certain factors like wealth, power, good looks?
I try to remember that social media only shows a small chapter of the whole story.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to get into trail running. Maybe you want to take sunrise photos at the top of a mountain. Maybe you want to do a marathon or a bike race. Whatever it is, it’s time to put the FOMO to good use. Make a list of one-, five- and ten-year goals. Check in with your goals and your life. Are you where you want to be? If not, how can you get there? Put together a plan and break it down.
Whatever you want to do with your life, start building today. Use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym to establish specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely goals. Stay focused and disciplined with your plan and say no to things that get in the way – including the fear of missing out on temporary luxuries that may deter you from your primary goals.
Resist knee-jerk reactions to say yes to distractions or the desire to please those around you.
When all else fails, take a deep breath, get off social media (put the phone or computer down) and make a mental effort to transfer feelings of envy to gratitude. Focus on the adventures you’ve had over the last year or embrace the activities that are just beyond your doorstep. And remember that each new day is another opportunity to start living the life you want to live.