Lots of people suffer from FOMO (“fear of missing out”) these days. Almost as many as those who suffer from Impostor Syndrome. I reckon it’s a society in general and technology in particular induced thing, seeing as the more connected we become, the more disconnected we feel.
Anyway, I’ve thought about FOMO once or twice, but it really hit me last night. I’m on Product Hunt a lot and as you know, most apps are iOS-first. Unfortunately, I’m on Android… see where I’m going with this?
FOMO is not that bad until you realize you have actually been missing out on something.
It’s not a big deal — I’ve been telling myself — those apps are not the first or last and I can certainly wait for the Android versions to come out, or not. Whatever. — This is the sort of healthy attitude I’ve had until now.
But then Meerkat happened.
You know it, right? Everyone’s live-streaming and a lot of people are getting lots of attention on themselves and their products, and I’m thinking — great, I’ll kill three birds with one stone:
- I’ll get some more followers and-
- I’ll learn to speak in front of people and maybe even-
- Do some interviews in this free form format.
Brilliant! Except… Meerkat’s available on iphone. OK… so I’ll wait for the Android version, and yay, it’s out! Trying… and failing… trying… and failing…
After a few more attempts I gave up.
So my FOMO turned into an actual missing out on something. Something potentially big (because, hello, I’m a marketer), and THIS SUCKED. I mean, I could buy an iphone or use another app, but I want my phone and this app.
My next thought floored me —
What did *I* do to deserve *this*?
Wow. Nothing could have woken me up faster than this ridiculous question. First of all, I have done nothing wrong, and second, this is nothing.
Right now there are people dying and losing their homes in Nepal because of the devastating earthquakes. I don’t say it for dramatic effect, I just want to compare what I have written above to an actual shitty situation:
(Here’s how you can help people in Nepal, by the way.)
And even if there were no earthquakes and everything was perfect in the world, there’s another thing to consider: Is public speaking my dream? No. Is live-streaming going to advance my dream? Not really.
So why am I freaking out over this?
Because FOMO is just FOMO. Whether you’re afraid of missing out or actually missing out on something, it’s all in your head. And the something you’re missing out on matters as well. If you’re missing out on love, you have my condolences. If you’re missing out on money, I can relate.
But missing out on an app?! I’m pretty sure there are other apps for whatever you want to do, and even if there weren’t, you shouldn’t be wasting your energy on something that’s not necessarily related to your dream. So…
Next time you experience FOMO, remind yourself of where you want to be, and let go of the irrational fear.
– tweet it
It’s like when you reach the crossroads of Should and Must.
The viral article inspired me — and many others — because it was so relatable — each one of us reaches that crossroads at some point in our lives. As I was reading, I was that person throughout the whole experience, and at the end, I knew the answer to the question: Which road should I take?
But my two forks in the road have slightly different names:
- Right Now and-
Where Right Now means what I want right now and Ultimately means what I ultimately want to do with my life.
I wish my current career path coincided somewhat with my deepest dream, and I certainly wish that for you, but for some of us those two things are just separate. Even in the age of the “side hustle” and “love what you do”, we still end up doing “jobs” for money and silently toil on our dreams in a corner, where nobody’s looking, nobody’s helping, and it’s hard.
Being the co-founder of my lovely startup and generally working with startups, you’d think my dream was to be the next Ryan Hoover and head a million-dollar unicorn company, wouldn’t you? But the truth is: I want to be a published fiction author one day. Here, I’ll show you:
And as fun as starting up is, it will never be more important than my long-term dream, and eventually I’ll have to choose between Right Now and Ultimately. And had I managed to get hooked on Meerkat, I might have gone even deeper into “the app scene”, but for what?
So a good rule of thumb is:
“When you feel the need to speed up, slow down.”
Slowing down allows you to examine your priorities. Without prioritizing, you’d be doing everything and more of it until you get burnout — not by working too much but by doing too many unimportant things in parallel.
Knowing all this, getting upset over an app seems even more ridiculous now.
So let’s — you and me — stop being afraid of “missing out” on things that won’t do anything for us. Let’s stop being envious of others who have more stuff and/or opportunities than us. Let’s just chip away at our dearest work quietly and count our blessings — like family, home, and 0 earthquakes.
All right? Now FOMO be like…
P.S. Thanks to Jaymini Mistry for trying to help setup Meerkat. It’s not the app’s fault, I think it was my phone’s. In any case, I’m grateful for the life lesson.
5 thoughts on “A FOMO Case Study: What Matters More Than Meerkat”
Thought I’d leave a comment this time around 😉
I can relate with being on Android and missing out on cool apps (non business related but recently this Chinese app that makes a 3D avatar that looks like you – ok I’m out :D). I actually used to own an iPhone that I now gave to a friend after I switched to Android. Now she gets the apps and I don’t… I’m still happy with my new phone though :D.
I had no idea you wanted to become a published fiction author. That’s awesome!
Aww, good choice! We’re not missing out until something gets in the way of the important things. Yes, I have always been writing one thing or another and once I started writing fantasy and science fiction a decade ago, I was hooked. Thanks for reading, sharing, etc. You rock, chica! ❤
Should and Must…. oh that’s tough to balance. I think we all grow up focused on the Should, even if it’s not done consciously by our close environment, our everyday life as adults forces us to always AT LEAST consider the should. And strangely enough, we need courage to follow our own dream, courage to make the damn decision and courage to break the news to our people. Wouldn’t it be way simpler if we just followed what made us happy?
Good luck on the book, I know it’s going to be an awesome one cause you are brilliant at writing 🙂
Aww, thank you! And yes, the should is so compelling that even now – despite I know better – I am considering it every day. In those moments I have to remind myself what I have learned along the way, because those lessons are too precious to be ignored or wasted.
Good luck to you, too, my friend. I know you’ll do the right thing. 😉
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