In our hyperconnected world, the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) has made many people focus more on what they are not doing rather than on what they are doing. This psychological phenomenon was first documented in the early 2000s as social networking sites gained in popularity, and the term was added to the dictionary in 2013. Here are three areas to assess FOMO’s potential impact on your perspective:
Perspective on Your Time
Jim Rohn, one of the pioneers of personal development, famously said:
“Time is our most valuable asset, yet we tend to waste it, kill it and spend it rather than invest it.”
In 2022, the average person spent 147 minutes per day on social media according to Statista. Some of that time educates us about what’s happening in the world, connects us with our friends and family, and brings an extra smile to our coffee breaks.
But a big chunk of those 147 minutes is likely spent seeing other people do things that we’re not doing. Whether it is looking at photos of exquisite meals you are not eating, or snapshots from tropical vacations you are not taking, it is important to ask: is this activity a good investment of my time?
Rather than observing what everyone else is doing, it might be more beneficial to examine your daily schedule to make sure you’re spending time on the things that are most important to you. If you’ve always hated running, training for a half-marathon just because your friends are will only make you — and them — miserable. Instead, consider unplugging at the beginning or end of every day to do something you love, whether that’s half an hour of yoga or reading an extra bedtime story to your children. Dedicating your time in this way will be much more fulfilling than watching how others spend their time.
Perspective on Your Portfolio
Many prudent investors build wealth through the markets by making consistent contributions to a balanced, diversified financial plan. That might not sound as exciting as jumping on the latest social media investment craze. But over time, this tried-and-true strategy is a lot more reliable than trying to take shortcuts.
For example, the “meme stock” craze boosted shares of GameStop and AMC in 2021. But those companies came crashing back down to earth in 2022. And while all securities experience ups and downs, many folks suffering from FOMO “bought high” right before the meme stock bubble burst or overinvested in these trendy stocks instead of diversifying into traditional brokerage or retirement accounts. Check out Thomas Talbott’s article for more on the Gamestop craze: GameStop, Gambling, and Stewardship
Will some of these FOMO investments rebound and turn profits over time? Maybe. But if you treat investing like a slot machine, you may “miss out” on the ability to build a strong foundation for long-term financial growth.
Perspective on the Big Picture
As we age, FOMO can take on some complicated new dimensions. Seeing colleagues promoted ahead of you might make you second-guess your career’s trajectory. Packing your kids off to college might make you worry about missing out on their lives.
However, acknowledging and celebrating all the important moments in your life is an essential part of your journey. Looking back on the milestones you’ve crossed should fill you with pride and gratitude. Hopefully, those feelings can help you stay focused on the personal goals that you’ve plotted for the future and the financial plan that will help you achieve them.
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~Portions Adapted from ROL Advisor~