Only a decade ago, the term ‘rat race’ was used primarily to describe the intense and ruthless competition with people trying to climb the corporate ladder.
Unfortunately, the rat race has taken over the world spilling into almost every aspect of our lives. Most of us just don’t realize it.
Have you ever felt a twinge of jealousy looking at the accomplishments, purchases, or travels of your friends on Facebook and elsewhere?
Well, you are not alone. Thanks to social media, we’re always expanding our social network, whilst growing even more disconnected.
The triumphs and celebrations of our friends are now no longer a source of joy to us, but they’ve turned into a stressor. How so? Because most of us feel pressured to compete even in social situations.
We spend so much time wishing we could manage to do and have all those things that others do, but is that what we really want? Is it really so important to always be one up on your friends?
Is it not possible to share in the joys of others if they cannot be made your own? Since when did the smaller pleasures in life become so inadequate?
Have you ever felt a twinge of jealousy looking at the accomplishments, purchases, or travels of your friends on Facebook and elsewhere? Well, you are not alone.
It looks like the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) has set in.
What Is This Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)?
FOMO, the abbreviation of the “fear of missing out”, has become so rampant in recent times that it was added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2013.
Here is their definition: “Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.”
While it’s great that social media enables us to keep in touch with our loved ones no matter where we are in the world, it can often leave us comparing our lives to those of others.
This has had widespread effects as recent studies have shown that people who suffer from this Fear Of Missing Out are likely to be less competent, less autonomous, and less connected with others.
“Every week LinkedIn would send me a new email update congratulating one of my ex-colleagues on their awesome new job in some awesome new part of the world. I was happy for them, but watched on in discontent”
The idea behind FOMO isn’t a new thing though. Many a man and woman has yearned for the grass that is supposedly greener on the other side, only to find that they had everything they ever wanted all along.
My Case Of FOMO In Entrepreneurship And Social Media
- The last company that I worked at was packed with movers and shakers from all around the world. Whenever a colleague left we’d always speculate as to what they would do next and where. Some stayed in Southeast Asia to launch their own businesses. Others returned to Europe or the US to join emerging digital behemoths such as Uber.
- Every week LinkedIn would send me a new email update congratulating one of my ex-colleagues on their awesome new job in some awesome new part of the world. I was happy for them, but watched on in discontent.
- Seeing my ex-colleagues progress in their careers motivated me to work harder. “If they can do it, why can’t I?” I’d tell myself. I wanted to catch up. I dreamt of starting the “next big thing” as I too felt that I needed to start a company to build an entrepreneurial legacy.
- I chatted with friends who had the same idea. I don’t remember how many business ideas were thrown around and planned out but none of them eventuated. It was never about solving problems in society or even achieving financial freedom. I think that the real reason why we wanted to start a company was FOMO. It was a case of keeping up with everyone else. It was the rat race disguised in entrepreneurship.
Are You Pursuing Personal Goals Or FOMO Goals?
When my time came to leave the company, I removed myself from everyday society. I needed to think about who I was and what I actually wanted to do next.
It took a few months to shed the layers upon layers of bullshit that I had been fed consciously and unconsciously over the years, but my true colors slowly started surface.
The funny thing that I discovered was that I had no desire to replicate my ex-colleagues’ successes. Even though they were doing cool things in the world, that didn’t necessarily mean that I wanted to follow in their footsteps.
I realized that I didn’t want to be them. I just wanted to be me to the best of my ability.
What Does Success Mean To You?
There’s over 7 billion people living on Earth and each of us is treading along our own unique path. Some will be entrepreneurs; others will be artists and teachers; some will be celebrities, while others will be perfectly fine living in anonymity.
Although the media portrays success as being rich, beautiful and famous, while social media tells us it’s all about travelling the world, there’s no right answer. Like beauty, success lies in the eye of the beholder.
Chasing after what other people perceive as success is dangerous. Why? Because what they want may not align with your vision and values. Even if you achieve it, will you be happy with something that doesn’t resonate with you to your core?
One very common suggestion to overcome FOMO is to avoid social media as a whole. This could work, but there are a few things to consider:
- Not everyone on social media is affected by the Fear Of Missing Out,
- With social media you are up to date with everything happening around you, undeniably it is becoming a necessity in the modern world and
- Cutting off social media deprives you of benefits like being connected to a whole lot of peers and friends.
Social media isn’t the problem. It’s just a platform that amplifies deeper societal problems, such as our lack of self awareness and feelings of inadequacy.
A much more effective way to overcome this FOMO syndrome is having an idea of what success means to you. Forget about the fame and the riches.
Don’t be distracted and swayed by the achievements or materialistic pursuits of others. Instead, get in touch with your inner self and find out what really makes you happy.