Have you ever read the following inspirational/motivational quote?
You know all those things you've always wanted to do? You should go do them.
I love that, as I am a big fan of actually doing things.
However, I was talking to a friend (hi, Haley!) this weekend about FOMO.
FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out. The kids say it these days — presumably because they all feel it, too.
Whether you call it that or not, I think we've all experienced the phenomenon at some point or another. Especially in our media-centric world, it's easy to pick up our phones or hop on our computers and be immediately inundated with information about all the interesting things that other people are doing. And that we are not.
Choosing something means not choosing other things. That's an obvious reality. Except, of course, that the picture of life we get on our phones makes it seem not so.
Haley and I lamented, laughing but cringing, at the lingering fear we've both encountered that the choice we made, the thing we got, isn't worth whatever other options or things it required us to sacrifice. Or that we sacrificed anything at all; that maybe we just should have done more.
A few months ago, though, I had a breakthrough moment. (The fact that it was a breakthrough moment is honestly embarrassing, but hang with me.)
I was scrolling through Instagram one day, through photos upon photos of people hiking, camping, surfing, snowboarding, traveling, working out, cooking extremely healthy meals, doing incredible creative work, etc.
I started to feel lightly jealous of all the cool and/or productive things they were doing, when something occurred to me: All of these people are really only doing one thing.
They're not ALL hiking AND camping AND surfing AND snowboarding AND you get the picture. The amazing designers I follow are designing. The surfers I follow are surfing. The friend that's car-camping this weekend is just car-camping this weekend. The gym rat is just gym-ing.
They're not all doing all those things.
They're all doing one thing, and often to a very extreme degree.
You don't get really good at something by also doing a dozen more things, after all. Nor do you get to enjoy that thing you love most all that much or often if you're juggling others.
I know that's actually not a breakthrough. That's just common sense.
But when the information is organized in such a way that it seems like all the people are doing all the things, all at once, that sense can easily become, well, less common.
I still love that quote, and I'm still a fan of experiencing as much as possible and chasing big dreams. But I think we should revise it.
You know all those things you've always wanted to do? You should go do one of them.
Because it doesn't work to do more than one thing at a time. I mean, maybe you can (except actually, science says you can't), but I've learned that I definitely can't.
So when I find myself facing FOMO these days, I try to turn my attention from what I'm not doing to what I am. Because I get to do lots of cool things, and I couldn't do them if I was doing those other cool things. You know?
Fear of missing out robs me of the very things I'm chasing when I entertain it — deep investment in people, place, experience, and craft.
The idea (or, more accurately, acceptance of) doing one thing at a time is a tiny and embarrassingly obvious shift in thinking. But it's a shift towards gratitude and contentment.
Now when doing stuff starts to feel like a losing race, I remind myself to relax. A lot of those things I've always wanted to do, I'm currently doing.
And as for the rest, the fastest anyone can go is still one thing at a time.
You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do one of them.