Fighting FOMO: Learning to Play Your Own Game
Fear Of Missing Out. FOMO is rife in the interconnected world we are in. Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, all the various Social Media and TV. We are mimetic creatures as per Rene Girard and popularized by Peter Thiel. You become the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. And you cannot help but absorb the ethos, goals and values consciously or subconsciously. We can’t help it, we humans are social creatures. We also want what other people have. We envy other people’s status and most folks are also pretty competitive by nature.
I feel like this is even worse in whatever echo chamber you are in, the Wall Street one, the Hollywood one and where I am, the Silicon Valley one. As an investor, there is always some VC raising more money for their fund than you; an Angel investor getting into better deals, fellow investors with better follower counts on Twitter or PR. Many of these are my friends and I am very happy for them. They earned it. But seeing it all the time, it does make you wonder what you are doing wrong sometimes,
On the founder side, there are always other founders who seem to be crushing it. Raising oodles of venture capital money, being blanketed across social media and talked about in the press. Doing better than YOU!
It’s so easy to get caught up in the noise and start questioning yourself and your own accomplishments. But as you learn in these places; there are always going to be multitudes of people in the world more successful, richer, more accomplished than you. You just have to come to terms with this fact of life. Doesn’t mean you stop competing. I certainly have not. But you can’t let it get you down or discourage you. Keep grinding.
It’s also very easy to start to conflate what you see around you with what you actually want in life. Many of us in the world are fortunate to have so many options and opportunities we can chase. It’s actually debilitating for some due to the “Paradox of Choice”, too many options can almost be as bad as no options.
This is why it’s important to crystallize and really think through what really matters in your life. Ie. Perfect Day exercise (https://hardfork.substack.com/p/the-perfect-day-exercise). It’s critical that you clarify and know: What your core values are and who you want to spend time with and where. Having a daily gratitude exercise also helps.
These are the important touchstones you need to get grounded when you get caught up in the frenzy and FOMO around you. Breathing and Meditation certainly help. Mentors, a community of trusted friends and therapists too. Traveling to get distance and a new perspective is great if you can do it. I also read and write a lot. This blog has been helpful therapy to work out my thoughts. I use all these tools every time I get caught up in envy and start thinking I’m behind or start questioning my path. I look at my Vision board, I breathe, I remember my goals and that I picked this path myself. I also remember that a big driver for my business life now is a focus on optimizing for working with good & smart people who have good values. https://hardfork.substack.com/p/building-managing-and-living-by-values
I continually remind myself about the the old internet quote: “Play Stupid Games, Win Stupid Prizes.”
It is a very stupid game if it’s one determined by someone else or set to media or societal or family expectations. I’m playing my own, infinite game and playing it in the way I want. I am careful to keep high standards that are my own and try not to compare myself to others. This helps keep you sane and focused. Not much else you can do beyond this. Focus on the hard work of executing your own master plan. As long as you are moving forward that’s all that matters.