“Happiness is found when you stop comparing yourself to other people,” so states the anonymous quote. But when everybody is online, using social media, messaging daily, posting pictures of their “best life”, not comparing yourself is a hard ask. I know it can feel as if there are so many things you “should” be doing: so many virtual events, webinars, training courses, business-pivoting moves, especially in lockdown. The pressure can be huge and the fear of missing out can be real so here are some thoughts on how to overcome FOMO.
Amid the inspiring posts and helpful suggestions online, are a lot of posts that trigger comparison and feelings of not doing or being enough. We can be prone to listening to negative self-talk. The phrase we are telling ourselves is: “I should…”
• I should be homeschooling better
• I should be attending every webinar I’m invited to
•I should be jumping on all these training courses
• I should be making the most of this situation
• I should be exercising more
• I should be pivoting and doing some super creative with my business
If you’re home as a remote worker, not being able to see what colleagues are doing, or feeling left out of the loop, can make you feel anxious, even threatened.
When you’re alone running a business, shiny object syndrome rears its head. (Did you see our interview with Martha of Martha Brook London where she talked about this – check it out in our print issue volume 1) It’s easy to get swayed into thinking you need to take every course or catch every live because that will mean you’re taking action and not missing anything.
There are ways to counter these feelings, ways to overcome FOMO, and even come out the other side feeling empowered and more motivated.
Get clear on your objectives
“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.” A famous quote by Lawrence J. Peter, which sums up why not having a clear goal can lead to floundering and aimless wandering.
The aimless wandering might just be you scrolling social media for endless inspiration. The result is usually feeling overwhelmed, experiencing even more comparison syndrome and possibly ending up feeling even more stuck than before with a new list of things you “should” be doing.
When you know exactly what you’re aiming towards, it’s easier to stay on track and only do the things which matter to you that will take you closer to that goal.
Keep the vision in mind and if needed, in sight, as a constant reminder of where you’re going. If you’re tempted by “all the things”, and feeling as if you “should” be signing up for every programme or reading every book, take a moment to look at what will serve you best and where your time is best spent.
Overcome FOMO; embrace JOMO (joy of missing out)
There is something completely liberating about choosing not to do something.
During the Coronavirus lockdown, the pressure to perform, to adapt and to be creative was immense. Remember that controversial tweet about wasting time if you haven’t acquired a new skill in lockdown? These potentially insensitive and unhelpful comments add extra pressure to an already stressful situation and reinforce this idea of “should”.
It is ingrained in our culture to be busy and productive, to over-achieve. Rather than helping, this belief actually keeps us trapped in a cycle of ‘doing’ while the real freedom lies in the choosing ‘not doing’.
The joy of missing out comes down to being very intentional with your time and energy. (A topic we’ve talked about in The Homeworker Facebook Community.)
Imagine experiencing the sense of freedom and empowerment that comes with owning your time, making decisions that are right for you and not dictated by what somebody else you know or follow is doing.
This becomes easier to do when you’re clear on your goals (see the previous point). You start to flip that internal conversation of: “I should be doing this,” or: “I’m missing out on this,” to: “I choose not to do this,” or, “This has no value for me at the moment.”
With that decision made, you overcome FOMO and get to experience the real joy of missing out.
Believe in yourself and your worth
When Coronavirus hit, everyone and every publication started talking about working from home. In that situation, I could have thrown my hands up and thought: how can I compete? I could have started looking around, worrying about all the content I “should” be writing and the extra resources I “should” be creating.
I think there were a few moments like that, until I realised I needed to stay in my lane, focus on what I do best and share the lessons I’ve learned from writing the magazine and working from home for over a decade. What I offered was more than a few quick tips, and what the magazine provides is more than instant tips to working from home. It is unique and remains so in what it provides and who it directly serves.
Abandoning that and trying to do what everyone else was doing would have served no purpose, and importantly, would not serve The Homeworker readers and subscribers.
Believe in yourself and the value that you offer. Nobody else does what you do in the same way.
Connect and Collaborate.
Seeing what everybody else is up to (or believing what everyone else is up to) can be triggering. That perception that everybody is doing more or better than you easily leads to feelings of jealousy and inadequacy.
During lockdown, there are many potential triggers: people seemingly having an incredible life while you struggle with work or lack of work. There might be people doing very creative things while you are experiencing groundhog day in a rut of homeschooling and housework.
I see these moments as real opportunities for growth and overcoming FOMO.
Questioning why you’re feeling this way helps you understand what is important to you. It helps shine a light on what areas you need to work on and what you need to prioritise.
Those pangs of jealousy, those negative feelings that rise up can all signal that there’s work to be done.
What I also find useful to overcome those feelings is reaching out to the people triggering those thoughts. Offering a hand of friendship or an understanding message is a great way to feel compassion for that person rather than jealous competitiveness.
Connecting and collaborating can be fruitful and help to banish any feelings of frustration and overcome FOMO or jealousy.
I have had many conversations with some brilliant and inspiring people during this period. Often, acting from a place of generosity and compassion will take you a lot further. As the African proverb says: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
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About the author
Louise is an award-winning journalist and speaker who focuses on working from home, remote work and wellbeing. She is the founder of The Homeworker, which is dedicated to helping you thrive when you work from home. The Homeworker publishes articles that are designed to keep you healthy, happy, fulfilled, and more productive in work and life.