Is FOMO stealing your life?

What fear is stealing the joy in your life?

As many as 70% of adults experience FOMO, according to marketing communications firm JWT. It’s a driving factor in purchases made, places visited, movies seen, and activities scheduled.

So…what is FOMO?

It’s the “fear of missing out.”

In a recent ABC News article, Sarah Miller writes: “FOMO happens when we invalidate the experience we’re having because we’re obsessed with the ones we’re not having,” says psychologist Arnie Kozak, Ph.D., author of Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness.

Our fear of missing out is driving our calendars to overflowing! Social media takes FOMO to new heights. A couple decades ago, the annual Christmas card or word-of-mouth (i.e. gossip) used to be the source of mild FOMO. Today, though, instantaneous life reporting fills every hour with “missed” opportunites!

Now we have: facebook updates with location markers, instagram pics swarming with laughter, and minute-by-minute tweets of THE best concert/mall/party. They compound FOMO anxiety to the point of obsessively gluing our noses to smart phones and propelling our thumbs to endless scrolling of screen updates.


Please pause for a moment. Why is your calendar full? What drives your decisions each day? Many of us have booked our week so full that lunch with a friend needs to wait a week or two. Our busy lives have become a boast of self-worth these days: “I have so much to do!” says a friend to the nodding and smiling heads around her.

Truly…our childrens’ activities, volunteer commitments, extra hours at work, lawn & garden work even, why are they on your calendar?

Here is the real question: Are they on the calendar because you are genuinely called to them or because you fear missing out of potential college admissions, professional recognition, travel team invites, or hopeful social engagements?

Here is the answer to simplifying your life: Discern between your passions and your fear-of-whatever engagements. Then stick with your passions.

In The Leader’s Soul (course with Willow Creek’s LIFT Project), instructor Mindy Caliguire poses the following questions:

Do I feel overwhelmed by options?
Do I feel burdened by impossible demands?
Do I buy more than I can afford?
Do I frequently desire to be more than I am?

These questions, Mindy continues, “uncover the presence of duplicity in my soul…My duplicate self has agreed to (or wants to agree to) something my real self cannot sustain.”

The pressure of FOMO causes us to live such a duplicitous life. We fill our calendar just in case we should be there or because “everyone else” will be there.

When I feel the pull to be more confident, more together, more successful, more spiritual, more hard-working, or more organized than I really am, I am tempted by duplicity. And when I succumb to that temptation, everyone around me suffers. Moving away from duplicity means practicing a new spiritual discipline — the discipline of simplicity.  (Mindy Caliguire)

How do I get to my real self?

Instead of living a FOMO-driven life, ask yourself:

Who am I really?
What are my passions?
What are the boundaries of my true self?

Knowing the core of who you are, then acting upon this knowledge, will reduce the conflicting schedules into which we place ourselves. It takes time to ponder these questions. Be patient with yourself.

Your Turn

1) Ponder the two sets of questions listed above. Journal your responses. Ponder some more.

2) Check-out What is your Core? for further reading.

3)  After spending some time on these question, make life decisions based on them!

Be your true self around friends and family…regardless of their skydiving adventure, new Tiffany jewelry, or phenomenal alpine skiing. Be genuinely happy for them in their boundaries and life while you live comfortably and simply in your own boundaries.

It is about being real. Authentic. True. It sounds simplistic but actually it is far from simple.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

(Isaiah 41:10)

Posted by Sharon R. Hoover

Photo Credit: jαγ △ via photopin cc


About Sharon R Hoover

Serving the church for over twenty years in discipleship and mission ministries, I've walked alongside many people travelling and exploring the journey of faith. Add in my own crazy path and I hope my writing will offer glimpses of life worth sharing.
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4 Responses to Is FOMO stealing your life?

  1. Uhm… ‘missing out on ‘much’. Sorry for the typo. Still recovering from two hospital visits yesterday in two different suburbs.:)

  2. I have reposted this to my blog. Hope you don’t mind. I am still ‘new’ to blogs but one of the options was to do this.
    I am missing out on mucy, but because of follow up appointments after the life saving surgery. I know God was with the surgeons or I woudn’t be here… they don’t – yet.

    • Hi Susan! I’m delighted that you found this post valuable for your blog as well! I hope your readers find it helpful and encouraging. Be sure to take the time you need to rest and recover, Susan. The Lord is doing a mighty thing bringing healing to your body! Many blessings to you!

  3. Pingback: Is FOMO stealing your life? « religioushistoricalresearch

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