Why is FOMO such a driving factor and how can people learn to let it go? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
Answer by Joshua Reeves, CEO and co-founder of Gusto, on Quora.
In some ways, having FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is a first-world problem because there are so many opportunities today for how we spend our time. The number of places, activities, and projects, we can go and do has multiplied. So have the ways that we can spend money.
However, FOMO is a reactive emotion, and life can be fuller when you approach it in a proactive way. Doing something just because others are doing it, or because it is the "thing to do" is often a recipe for feeling inadequate and unhappy because the motivation isn't coming from within. It's coming from an external context, so ultimately the destination or thing that's done doesn't end up being as exciting or interesting as expected. There is always the next thing, or something more that can be done, and the destination is never reached. FOMO continues on and on.
It's true, FOMO can lead to new experiences. When it manifests in a healthy way, I'd call it curiosity and a desire to discover new things. One of the inspirations can be what others are doing, but that should only be one factor in how one lives. It shouldn't be a comparison. What makes someone else happy might not make you happy. Our paths in life are a personal journey, and comparison will always lead to inadequacy. Someone will always have more. We do not receive a grade for life. It really depends on what you care about.
On top of that, the whole world feels like it's moving faster these days. Part of this is good since it enables easier communication, faster decision-making, and more connection. The parts that can be distracting are impulse-driven behavior and the race toward instant gratification. Great things in life aren't done overnight. It's really important to think about what you care about, and then do those things proactively. Otherwise it's very easy to get caught up in what others are doing in the short term. Then life itself becomes a reaction. Be in the driver's seat for your life. Don't let FOMO guide where you go. Make it deliberate.
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