What does FOMO mean for your future?

IMG_3437The thought of being trapped in your office cube while your friends go to their third happy hour of the week drives you insane.

After drooling over your sister’s tower of artisanal French toast on Instagram, you can’t even deal with your boring bowl of cereal.

Your squad rolling up to that concert without you gives you heart palpitations.

That anxious feeling of not doing enough, not experiencing enough, is called FOMO: fear of missing out.

This 21st-century social anxiety is fittingly fueled by social media, where everyone else’s carefully edited lives seem to put your own to shame. One friend is in Greece, another is already a vice president at work, and that power couple is making cake pops for the soccer tournament.

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FOMO becomes a real problem if it makes you reach for your wallet instead of putting down your phone. Its hold on investors leads to bubbles and then to crashes, like the dot-com collapse in 2000. It can even hurt your career if you’re constantly unsatisfied with your position, leading you to devalue your own work until you can find “something better.”

So what do you do about it?

  • Have something to look forward to. FOMO won’t strike as hard if you’re not staring down an empty calendar. So plan some volleyball games or commit to seeing the new superhero movie with friends. It’s cheaper than buying plane tickets.
  • Don’t leave money languishing in accessible accounts. If your checking account has more than a few months’ expenses in it, start saving more aggressively for emergencies and retirement. The less likely you are to spend now, the more you can enjoy later in life.
  • Don’t let yourself be bored. Pursue that hobby you’ve always put off. Use that gym membership. Keeping busy keeps envy at bay.
  • Give social media a break. Your Instagram account doesn’t define you, so realize that it’s not a complete picture of anyone else’s life, either.
  • Let it go. You’re never going to experience everything, win every award, get every promotion. Just remember: You don’t have to impress anyone but yourself. Besides, everyone you know is probably jealous of your lifestyle already. They have FOMO, too.

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