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drawing of turning FOMO into JOMO

❝You can fail at what you don't want so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.❞ -Jim Carrey

The Fear of Missing Out (or FOMO) is the fear that comes with wanting to do everything but recognizing that you can't.

This is worse than you think. You fear you might not be able to do everything you want to do. However, it's literally impossible to do everything you want to do. Taking a step back to put your life in perspective, understanding what's important to you, and aligning your life with your values will help you transform FOMO into JOMO - the Joy of Missing Out. You'll have the confidence that you're living the best life you can, given where you are.


Let me tell you something you already know but something you probably spend a lot of energy trying not to think about:

Life is finite.

You were born, and one day you will die.

drawing of life span

On top of that, you've already lived some of your life.

drawing of remaining life

And on top of that, you don't know how much more time you have!

drawing of unknown life length


I don't say that in order to induce existential dread (although it may have shown up). I say that because it's easy to forget. Our default mode is to live our lives as if there will always be more time.

In fact, people who have had near-death experiences tend to change their priorities, recognizing they are on borrowed time. That's because they came face-to-face with the Reaper. But the fact is, we're all on borrowed time.

Because we live our lives as if we're going to keep on living, we rack up a list of things we want to do, things we need to do, things we should do, and things other people do that we think we have to do as well. FOMO (the fear of missing out) makes sure our list of things to do with our time is endless.

The time it takes to do everything you want to do outweighs the time you have left.

drawing of too much to do

By a long shot!

Combatting FOMO and coming to terms with the finite amount of time that we have involves getting clear about what's important to us so that we can live our lives in alignment with that - instead of doing things just to do them or because we think we're supposed to.

drawing of way too much to do

The Three Dimension Meaning in Life Scale assesses three dimensions of meaning in life: coherence, purpose, and significance. Coherence is the feeling that your life makes sense. Purpose is having direction in life. Significance is the belief that your life has value.


When you go to a restaurant with a group of people, you're usually given a menu. A menu is a list of dining options you have available to you.

drawing of menu

In a restaurant setting, you get to order whatever you want (given some constraints, like money, health, time, and so on).

That's by design. That's how it's supposed to work.

Imagine, on a particular night, you're feeling like pasta.

drawing of stick figure

You get to order whatever you want, and so does everyone else. That's part of the design.

Imagine if ordering food from a restaurant worked like life. Once you order your pasta, your friend orders tacos. Now, you feel like you have to get some tacos. You keep your pasta - you're not changing your mind. You just don't want to miss out on eating tacos (and who does?!).

drawing of stick figures

That's not how it works, though. You can have pasta, and your friend can have tacos, and you can still be friends.

drawing of stick figures

Life ought to be the same way. If we view life as a menu of options and choices, rather than an endless list of things we need to get through, then we'll have more confidence in how we choose to spend our lives.

If music isn't all that important to you, you can be happy for your friend who wants to learn how to play the guitar. You don't have to go out and start learning how to play the guitar because you think it should be important. You can have your values, your friends can have their values, and you can still remain friends!

drawing of life as a menu


Viewing life like a menu helps transform FOMO into JOMO - the Joy of Missing Out. "Joy" here refers not only to feeling good about not going to do something, but feeling joy for others in their choices.

For example, some people are completely infatuated with pop music in general and Taylor Swift specifically. Tickets to Swift shows can be hundreds of dollars, well over $1,000 for some tickets and certainly over $1,000 for a group of people to go.

Using the FOMO lens, you going to Taylor Swift would bring about a visit from envy. I would have to either find the money to go (or go into debt), or I would have to sit and home and feel bad about not going to Taylor Swift.

Reframing to the JOMO lens helps you feel good for your friends who want to go to Taylor Swift. It also gives you the confidence to do your own thing, say, going to a local jazz club.

drawing of fomo

But you don't have to do anything. You can be happy for your friends and stay home to save some money. This includes when you actually like Taylor Swift and would go but don't want to (or can't) spend the money.

drawing of opting out

Let go of FOMO. Starting embracing JOMO. You'll be happier for the trouble.

You get one life; live intentionally.


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About the Author

Derek Hagen, CFA, CFP, FBS, CFT-I, CIPM is a speaker, writer, and coach specializing in financial psychology, meaning and valued living, resilience, and mindfulness.


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