FOMO has been around since the beginning of time, but it’s become an even bigger part of our lives because of the amplifying powers of social media.
It happens to all of us. We log on, scroll, and suddenly we’re comparing ourselves to these filtered, curated versions of everyone else’s perfect-seeming lives. Immediately, it makes us jealous. As a result, we begin to feel we’re missing out on something huge.
Before too long, we’re living full-time in someone else’s head, living someone else’s dream, and trying to be significant by measuring ourselves against impossible metrics.
This is no way to live. It holds us back because it encourages us to obsess over the things we lack instead of the things we already possess — like our own unique abilities, traits, and ambitions.
If you want to be successful, you have to find a way to stop doing this. You have to overcome the power of FOMO.
Recognize FOMO as superficial
Here’s the truth: many of the things we feel like we’re missing out on when scrolling through social media aren’t even things we actually want to do.
For example, as I was making a name for myself in my 20’s, I wanted only a few specific things: success, respect, and financial security for my family.
One thing I never coveted? Going to high-end parties and looking significant. Yet that’s exactly what I began to feel I was missing out on.
Why? Because that’s what folks who were suddenly my peers seemed to be doing — driving fancy cars, going to nightclubs, buying bottle service. I thought these were things I was supposed to be doing.
But then, in time, I asked myself, “Why?” Why do I think I’m supposed to do these things?
I realized, ultimately, that the pressure was entirely self-imposed. I was fueling my own FOMO.
Focus on what your own values and dreams are
Okay, here’s another truth: FOMO is actually a good thing, because it can inspire us to more consciously pursue our dreams.
For example, I feel FOMO today if I don’t get to bed early because I know it will mean I can’t work out the next morning. I feel FOMO when I’m not writing, when I’m not creating podcasts, when I’m not with my kids at their baseball and softball games. I fear missing out on these things because they’re what I truly care about.
I bet you have a similar set of pursuits that are important to you — and I bet none of them have anything to do with social media or the things you witness people doing there.
That’s why, when it comes to combating that kind of FOMO — the superficial, social media kind — reminding yourself of what your dreams actually are is the best thing you can do.
We should really only ever feel FOMO when we’re not doing things we truly love.
The key is reminding yourself of those things — of your more genuine and honest ambitions — and then calibrating your life and your mental state to only worry about missing out on them.
Ask yourself: what really lights you up?
What makes you truly happy? What makes you feel satisfied, like you’re on track, like you’re doing what you really are supposed to be doing? What lights you up?
Remind yourself of those things, then forget about the rest.
Social media-bred FOMO encourages us to forget about what truly drives us, what we value in our soul.
That’s why, at the end of the day, combating it really does entail reflecting on and recentering our lives around those goals we actually want to achieve, the dreams we actually want to live for.
Ultimately, this amounts to living for yourself as opposed to the one-dimensional representations you see on your phone or computer every day.
Trust me: it’s a much more fulfilling way of living life.
This article was originally published on Quora.