The Beginning of The End of FOMO: Your Values-Alignment Practice
“You can’t dance at all the weddings” is what my father used to declare almost daily when I was starting out in business. But how was an ambitious and socially-involved young lady like myself supposed to make a decision, especially when it’s crucial not to make the wrong choice: Suzie invites me to her party and promises there will be lots of eligible men in attendance; Jeremy, a guy I’d gone out with a couple of times, invites me to go hiking; My best friend Sam asks if I’d go shopping with her during a tough time in her life; and of course there’s the barbeque some big wigs at the firm will be attending.
I wanted to do it ALL. But it’s only in retrospect that I recognize this craving was an illusion. I felt the need to be involved with lots of activities and people not because the opportunity “moved” me, but out of the desperation not to miss out on something BIG— the jokes and laughs that would become part of my social history, being “seen” by the right people, the chance to be a good friend, or even the potential to meet a future romantic partner. Today, this desperation has its very own acronym: FOMO. And although it’s still an illusion, its impact is for real.
The Other Choice
It becomes a challenge to make appropriate decisions and critical choices when an emotional threat is present. Our need to feel connected with others often makes us less clear about what’s important to us. This well-ingrained instinct was essential to human survival in the deep past, when safety in numbers was crucial and to be shunned from your clan equated to a survival threat. But in the modern age, at least in our corner of the world where we’re relatively safe, we still battle with the psychological need to fit in. It appears we’d rather be physically hurt than excluded. This threatens to make us numb and oblivious to what we truly want, prompting us to do things that don’t fulfill us, as we remain worried or angry for not making a different choice.
This scenario played out for me years ago, when the home team was in a playoff game. My friend had scored tickets, and I agreed to join her for both nostalgic reasons and to take advantage of a lovely afternoon catching up with my dear friend— even passing up an engagement with my cousins who were in town that day. I ended up sitting at a ballpark on a damp and rainy day, uncomfortable and chilled to the core, and slathered in negativity (which my friend absorbed), all the while regretting having turned down the opportunity to bond with relatives.
The Transition to JOMO
When I was first invited to that ballgame, I couldn’t bear missing out on being part of that “movie scene”. But where the mind imagines, reality seldom aligns. So how’s a person to choose what to do? Well, when you get in-touch with your values and priorities, you create the confidence and emotional space to choose what’s right for you. As a bonus, you can appreciate where you are and who you’re with, without FOMO.
Let’s look at a couple of ways to manage or eliminate FOMO, with the goal of turning it into JOMO:
A Values-Driven Life: Look inside yourself and get clear on what is important to you (Feel free to grab a pencil and paper to jot down some ideas.)
- What is truly important to you?
Think of your priorities in four categories: personal, family, work and community. James Clear writes about the Four Burner Theory, and I’ve taken the lead from him to use this method of prioritizing weekly (after all, our priorities change frequently). Go ahead and write down what’s MOST important to you right now. Check out this sample to inspire your creative juices!
- Priorities + Values = Great Clarity. So clarify your values!
Discovering your core values can make decision-making easier, and gives you the peace of mind that you’re where you should be. Check out this values list. I bet you could add more. If you want to zero in on your values, go through this values exercise.
- Is it draining or filling your energy tanks?
To live a long and prosperous life, we must maintain our personal energy. Think about your personal energy sources as physical energy, emotional energy, mental energy and spiritual energy. As you are presented with choices and opportunities, tune in and ask yourself, “Would this fill or deplete my energy tank?”
Bringing it Together: You now have a basis to make decisions that align with your values, your priorities and your energy. These guideposts can inspire the confidence to know that you’re making the right decision for you. And since you can’t dance at all the weddings, at least you know you’re going to the right wedding. Or do you? In my next post, we’ll explore two phenomena that get in the way of building that confidence. And remember: All of us have examples in our past when we’ve clearly made the wrong decision and missed out big time!
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