The Joy Of Missing Out, the more relaxed, healthy boundary setting cousin to the anxiety-ridden FOMO. As we head into a new year with new intentions of self-love in mind, we wanted to dig into JOMO to exclaim our commitment once and for all that we are going all in on the joy of missing out.
“Busy” used to be my badge of honor and instant response to the everyday “how are you?”
I loved being busy. Being busy meant I was in high demand. My life was full of professional commitments and personal engagements. It also meant I didn’t have time to focus on the things I wanted to avoid like challenging feelings and adult responsibilities.
“Busy” slowly to morphed into BURNOUT after a few years. I lived non-stop, both personally and professionally, and realized that my 14-hour day, 7-day a week schedule was not sustainable. I needed to cut back.
Initially, I attempted to streamline all commitments and I felt really good for a month or so. I allowed for a few slow mornings, a night or two “off,” and I tried to only schedule personal commitments that were intimate and meaningful.
Then, I unconsciously entered into the rapacious cycle of FOMO.
Professional FOMO would set in: “What would happen if I didn’t say “yes” to writing that article or teaching that class? What opportunities would I miss out on? Would they consider me for a future opportunity if I said no this time?”
Personal FOMO occurred: “I’d be the only one “not” there. Whose feelings would I hurt? Would they form stronger bonds that I would not be a part of?”
Then one morning I woke up so drained and it hit me, I was “busy” again. The space I gave myself just a few weeks before was gone and I was more depleted than ever. As I gained the awareness of what I was doing – overscheduling myself – the burnout intensified and got worse. I was physically, mentally, and emotionally tired. My lack of energy and limited time began to negatively impact my relationships, my ability to wholeheartedly show up, and my self-worth.
I promised myself that I was going to change. I decided that I would rather have no life than life so hectic I couldn’t even enjoy it. It was that moment I stopped living from a place of fear and started to live from a space of self-love and self-care.
I went from having a fear of missing out to experiencing JOMO, the joy of missing out.
JOMO is not a new concept, it’s been around for a few years. Christina Crook even wrote a book called The Joy of Missing Out in 2015. (In 2015, I would have been too busy to have discovered Crook’s book. #irony)
Why was I so busy in 2015? In hindsight, I was busy, because for me, being busy meant I had something going on.
Though I was not alone in my dedication to filling up my schedule, busyness is a cultural phenomenon in America. In many other cultures, a leisurely lifestyle is associated with high-status. Conversely, a study documented in the Harvard Business Review captured Americans’ reverence for “busyness”:
“In a series of experiments, we varied whether a person was described as conducting a leisurely lifestyle or working long hours. For example, in one of the experiments, participants read a short description of a 35-year-old man named Jeff. Specifically, participants in one condition read, ‘Jeff works long hours and his calendar is always full.’ In contrast, participants in the other condition read, ‘Jeff does not work and has a leisurely lifestyle.’ After reading these scenarios, participants rated the perceived social status of the person described. We found, in general, that the busy person is perceived as high status, and interestingly, these status attributions are heavily influenced by our own beliefs about social mobility. In other words, the more we believe that one has the opportunity for success based on hard work, the more we tend to think that people who skip leisure and work all the time are of higher standing.”
So, like many other Americans, I stayed busy to feed my ego and feel good about myself.
Being busy worked for a while. I felt good about all of the experiences I was having and the potential relationships I was cultivating. Then, I got really tired and realized that all of the energy I was emitting was not adding up to anything of value.
I metaphorically danced with FOMO for some time. I would try to cut back and set boundaries with my schedule, but then I would succumb to the “what if I didn’t” fear. At first, I moved through feelings of worthlessness when I would stay in or say no to a professional opportunity.
Then, I began to experience JOMO.
My first real experience with JOMO happened during the Spring of 2017. It was an unseasonably warm weekend and my schedule was empty. I said “no” to a fitness event with friends. I declined to teach a yoga class at a local studio…followed by a little guilt in the no. However, the guilt subsided once I started to relax. I went to the beach and read, laid on my couch, watched a movie and took my time doing everything. By the end of the weekend, I felt rested. At that point in time, I didn’t even remember what rested felt like and it. was. glorious!
I was ready to go back to work for once, instead of having the Sunday Scaries. I was motivated on Monday. It felt good.
Healthy boundaries, saying no — check and check. Scrolling incessantly while I bask in being alone on my couch…unfortunately, check there also. The use of my technology went up as my social calendar cleared, so that is why social media and technology use was the final frontier for true joy of missing out. Research has proven that life satisfaction declines when someone spends more time on social media.
So, I put myself to the test with a one-month social media detox to experience JOMO on a digital level. Unsurprisingly, “unplugging” helped me recognize that I was – once again – overscheduled, in real life.
This digital detox helped me get clear on how and where I was spending my time. It also showed me how easy it is for life to get overwhelming (and overscheduled) when I am not being mindful. I encourage you to try! Maybe it isn’t a full month but instead just an afternoon, one day a week or a full 7 days to start,
You will learn how quickly your priorities shift into focus and how much time you spend worrying, thinking of how others perceive you (that you can’t control anyway!) and mindlessly scrolling to nowhere.
Can’t we agree that life just seems to be more orderly and comfortable when your living space is clean and organized? One way to create a space you love, start with decluttering. Recently, I went through all of my closets and either recycled or donated anything I honestly was not using anymore. Then, I rearranged my furniture and art to design a home space (without spending any extra money) that I really, really love.
You can relax quicker, tap into joy and leave outside, outside when things feel good at home.
Think of the one thing that always elevates your vibration when you’re done doing it: your favorite spin class, meditating outdoors, that heart-to-heart conversation you have with that one special friend. Whatever it is, schedule it into your calendar and say “no” to anything that conflicts with it. Outside of major life events – see: weddings or graduation – do your best to make it a reoccurring event so you have something to look forward to each week and so you can use it to practice saying “no” when someone asks you to do something that conflicts with your free-time and personal self-care!
What’s that one thing you’ve really wanted to do, but haven’t had the extra cash for? Whatever it may be — a trip to Bali, a yoga retreat, that beautiful painting created by your favorite local artist — figure out how much it’s going to cost and work backward. How much money do you need to save every month to take that trip, go on that retreat, or hang that beautiful painting where you can see it every day?
With this goal in mind, saying ‘no’ to brunch will become much easier and allow you to cash in on more self-care instead like resting quietly at home or going on a walk outdoors. And, in this case, it’s a double JOMO – you’ll get a little more free time for yourself and experience extra joy when you save enough cash to invest in yourself!