Looking Beyond Our Boundaries
I couldn’t stop thinking of the subject line for an email I’d received. There was nothing remarkable about its contents beyond the usual promotions that I would usually delete without ever seeing. Yet for every moment my mind went quiet or wasn’t busying itself with my mile-long To Do list, it would wander over to that email title.
The subject line said “JOMO: The Joy Of Missing Out” and every time its meaning swirled in my head, it filled me with a tiny wave of excitement.
We’re familiar - some more than others - with the Fear Of Missing Out, or what the cool kids call #FOMO.
I’m not entirely docking Fear because I believe it has its merits and I have accomplished a great deal out of Fear. For instance, Fear of not being good enough made me over-achieve a 3.8 GPA in university. Fear of disappointing people I care about makes me better at returning phone calls. Fear of inheriting certain health conditions or weight gain keeps me from eating as many cheesy-creamy-starchy things as I otherwise most certainly would be.
Fear exists to protect us and it makes sometimes tough decisions easier to make. It is designed to keep us safe. To be driven by Fear can be incredibly stabilizing and it rightfully belongs in the stockpile of forces that serve us all.
However, there’s a flip side to all of this safety and stability because in turn, Fear requires us to shelter ourselves. Its built-in protection feature keeps us operating from within our routine and encourages us to think smaller than we could be by only allowing us to feel comfortable by what is familiar.
And yet, as humans, we are programmed to always want more, to strive for better, to reach beyond.
That is the beauty and genius behind the Fear Of Missing Out: FOMO allows us to feel like we’re working towards a target, even if it is within the boundaries of our comfort zone. It doesn’t ask us to look beyond in the pursuit of whatever it is we are working so damned hard towards. Fear likes for us to be set in our ways. It wants to keep us busy enough maintaining our status quo that we don’t have the time, energy or focus to think outside the box, to explore the uncertain, to look beyond.
Then we have the Joy Of Missing Out, in all of its undeveloped glory.
One of the biggest differentiators between JOMO and FOMO that I think about most is the use of language for each. While FOMO has us questioning ourselves with “what if”, JOMO asks us “why not”. FOMO will catapult us into an endless loop of “just in case” scenarios whereas JOMO takes all of those possible parallel universe preoccupations and literally gives us permission to enjoy not having to consider them all.
What really cements the difference between FOMO and JOMO for me, though, is the use of the words “should” and “can”. FOMO has a lot to say about what we should do, what we should be, what we should have, what we should be spending our time, money and focus on. Fear has definite and critical opinions about how you should behave and what kind of life you should have, and it will use our emotions to echo those beliefs from within ourselves.
Meanwhile, JOMO is far more empowering for our inner dialogue: it suggests to us that we “can”. The word “can” suggests that happiness is available in the here-and-now instead of positioning all the things we “should” be doing in its never-ending pursuit. The mindset shift for the Joy Of Missing Out speaks to what we can do, what we can be, what we can have, what we can spend our time, money and focus on. By replacing “should” with “can” - and by replacing Fear with Joy - we are in turn replacing our anxiety with possibility, our sense of what is sufficient with a feeling of hope and expectancy, our acts of obligation with actions driven by opportunity.
Fear has done a great deal for me and I embrace what is has and will continue to help me accomplish. But there is a reason why my consciousness won’t allow me to let go of that subject line: I need to be driven by more than just my obligations and what I feel is familiar. Clearly, I have a need - a craving, even - to tap into the infinite potential that comes with being driven by Joy and the willingness to look beyond.
About the Author:
You know that tight, beehive-in-your-chest feeling that comes when you’re late on 3 deadlines, your finances are a mess + you don’t know where your next client is coming from? That’s a symptom that you need some Miss #GSD in your life. I’m Lanie Lamarre - haiiii! - and I help overwhelmed service-based bosses like you automate, streamline, organize + account for all the things that are stressing you out so you can get back to doing the work you got into business to do in the first place!