Five Ideas to Get Over FOMO Because YOLO


How do we set boundaries for ourselves when social media seems to demand so much of our time and attention?

CNN declared that teens suffer from “like” and “FOMO” anxiety. I have a teenager, which means her anxiety causes me anxiety, so I figured I should learn more about this. First, because I’m neither cool nor hip, I had to Google FOMO. (I’ll save you the trouble of looking it up: Fear of Missing Out.) 

Diana Graber, cofounder of CyberWise.org, commented, “It’s almost like a little competition for the number of likes. I think that’s anxiety-ridden, because you get likes based on how many friends you have, and you have to keep posting things to get more friends and it’s like a vicious circle.”

Because of their FOMO, teens constantly check their devices for Instagram or Snapchat notifications. They sleep with their devices nearby so they won’t miss a middle-of-the-night text. 

TBH (I'll let you look it up :), this isn’t only a teen issue. Millennials adopted YOLO as their rallying cry—and do all sorts of awesome, adventurous, and sometimes crazy things in the name of You Only Live Once. My age group? We were raised before acronyms were cool, so we followed Robin Williams’ advice to carpe diem—and we never learned to apply the Just Say No slogan to anything other than drugs. 

The problem comes when, in our effort to be liked and to seize every moment, we pack our schedules so full that we end up resenting the commitments we chose to accept.

So how do we live full lives while still setting boundaries for ourselves? Here are five ideas to help us get over our FOMO because of YOLO. 

1. Give yourself permission to say no—and say no if you need to. Some of you may think “What? Well, of course.” For me—and I’m sure I’m not alone—this is a pretty big step. You see, if you ask me for just about anything, I’ll say yes because I’m afraid I’ll disappoint you or you’ll think less of me. I will add more and more and wonder how I’ll make room in my schedule to fit it all in. I am also easily caught up in the moment and want to say yes right away. Only after I’ve committed, do all the reasons why I shouldn’t have said yes come to mind. When I take time to think through all the good opportunities in front of me, I can either say no without guilt or know for sure that I’m committed.

Just the concept that saying no is acceptable has been a long, slow lesson. Actually, saying no is even harder. But I’m getting there.

2. Turn off social media. Teens aren’t the only ones getting addicted to checking social media. If I am not accessible via my phone or computer 100 percent of the time, I fear I’ll miss the little notification that lets me know you’ve tried to get in touch with me. It sounds silly when we think about it, doesn’t it? I remember when there weren’t even answering machines. People just had to call back if they wanted to be in touch. Now (and I’m guilty of it too) if you don’t text or e-mail or instant message immediately, people get a little irritated. By turning off social media, you get to choose the times when you are available. No guilt. 

3. Suffer from FOMO (the good kind). The fear of missing out isn’t all bad. The negative fear of missing out means we place such a high value on our own importance that we think the tasks we are able to do can only be done by us. It means we act as if we have to take advantage of every opportunity because we’re so awesome. In reality, we have a Maker who knows the plans he has plans for us; he wants us to have a full life—not a frantic life.

But you should suffer from FOMO when people and requests and your to-do list are swirling about. Step back and have a fear of missing out on rest, on serving in areas that are best suited to your gifts, on family time, on the peace that comes when your value is determined by your Maker, not from the things you do. 

4. Determine what will go. With clothes, organizational experts will tell you that to keep your closet clean, every time you bring something in, you need to take something out. What if we do the same with our time and activities? There’s so much we want to do, but only so much we can do—and piling on more could make you resentful, even for good causes. 

5. Realize YALF. You don’t only live once. You Actually Live Forever. (It’s just a matter of where you’ll spend eternity.) When we live at a frenetic pace trying to pack everything in to this life, we lose sight of eternity. We don’t have to fear missing out, because we actually already have all we need for life and godliness. Our brother Jesus has secured our royal position and we don’t have to panic about how little time we have. Instead we wisely use our time here on earth and trust that we have an unlimited amount of time to bring God glory. Now, instead of feeling guilty about not learning the guitar here on earth, I realize I’ll have all the time in the (new) world to practice a new instrument.

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