The joy of missing out
I was listening to a podcast with Jason Fried the other day and heard this term: “The Joy of Missing Out” or JOMO. It took me a couple of days to process what it meant for me, but it was easy to adapt to it. There are many things in this world that seek our attention, news, new technologies announced every day or any other “shiny” thing flashed in our face.
All these flashy things are trying to get us to buy into their premise by using the fear of missing out.
- If you don’t buy now, it will be more expensive later
- All your friends are using this thing, you don’t want to feel isolated from them
- You have to listen/read to news 24/7 because you want to stay informed what’s happening every minute
There is this great book by Nir Eyal called Hooked that shows how the social networks (and other trends) abuse our psychology to hook us into using them. It’s always the easy wins, small doses of dopamine that keep us hyped up enough. Enough that we pull down the feed to refresh one more time before going to bed.
Back to the premise. Joy of missing out is a thing. My thinking about the concept started when I read the Hell Yeah or No book by Derek Sivers. Either you are super enthusiastic about something, or you say NO to it. I’ve had situations where I promised to work on projects because I felt bad for the people involved. Although they would add almost zero value to my life (except financial). When you embrace the power of saying no, you add value to both sides, to yourself and to the other side. If we approach it from a good-will perspective, you don’t want to do something half assed, neither does the other party want it done like that.
My true JOMO started years ago when I stopped wasting time on hot new frameworks and languages and decided to learn the things I needed for the job at hand. Now I can find JOMO moments every day. If I don’t feel like doing something, I won’t commit to it. If something feels wrong to me, I say it immediately. This might alienate people, but that is the price you pay for being yourself and sticking to your values. This will make people respect you more, saying NO is a huge confidence booster and you will project that confidence outwards.
Now this doesn’t absolve you of missing out on your parental, spousal and other responsibilities. I know you’d feel joy if you missed out on washing the dishes after lunch. Or taking the dog out to do it’s business. But you can and should miss out on a lot of meaningless crap that won’t add value to your life or the life of your family.
I’m writing this because recently I completed the one thing I didn’t want to, but I promised to do it in a rash decision, and had to stick to my promise. After I politely declined to work on it in the future, I immediately felt the joy. It’s much easier to say no when you are not strapped for money.
I know I’m quite privileged in saying this, but it’s near impossible to put yourself in this situation if you are an IT person nowadays. You can always find a different job or project, and you can even create something of your own.