How to Transcend FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
My wife and I share an ‘Explorer’ personality style which is commonly rooted in a childhood fear of missing out.
This expresses itself in novelty-seeking and a nearly unquenchable desire for diversity of experience.
An unhealthy version of this is a constant shifting of attention to new things, resulting in never accessing any depth or creating anything of significance.
Growth within this style is to learn to experience diversity within focused contexts.
For example, my wife has shown me how to experience novelty and diversity in the nuance and subtlety of foods. In my work, I experience diversity within a fixed profession by coaching entrepreneurs and leaders from a myriad of industries.
On our recent 10 night holiday in Hawaii, we focused in on the single island of Kauai. (No coincidence that when I was younger and came for 10 days I visited two islands.)
However, as planned, halfway through our trip we switched resorts from the south to the north of the island. In hindsight, we did this because we could not decide which one would be better. I had suggested ‘Let’s just do both’!
Often, ‘both/and’ is a great transcendent option. In fact, an orientation for diversity can be crucial in developing the skill of seeing integrative both/and solutions in complex situations.
At the same time, for me personally, if I’m not conscious it can also be a reflexive response to my fear of missing out.
We agree that we could have stayed at just one resort for 10 days and, if we had, then our time would have been less rushed and even more relaxing.
This, I think, is relevant more generally too; that the fear of missing out is fundamental in my habitual hurriedness.
What I see is that the more I make conscious choices NOT from a fear of missing out – the more I choose to find diversity and novelty in more nuanced ways – then the more relaxed and at peace I feel.
I’m reminded of the 10 day silent retreat I did in India in 2006. I would sit for hours on a bench just looking at the trees. There was infinite depth for me there and I hardly moved a muscle.
Every morning my son and I wake first and we head out of the room so his mother can get more sleep. I follow him around the massive resort as he greets everyone he comes across. After commenting on how cute he is, they often remark; “He is quite the Explorer!”
When they do, I imagine all of the life and growth ahead of him.