How I Fought FOMO, And Won, Using… FOMO

The surprising research that led me to discover that the best way to fight and overcome FOMO is with a different type of FOMO.


When my friends left me behind to go on a five-day hike along the South African Whale Trail, I felt mega FOMO.

Some people apparently have the superpower to inject themselves with JOMO, the “joy of missing out.”

Not me.

So rather than feverishly refresh my social media feeds to follow my friends’ trip, I went in search of a more realistic way to deal with FOMO than JOMO.

  • I Google scholar-ed through the history and psychology of FOMO.
  • I took notes on five books related to the topic.

And I think I found a more practical way to deal with FOMO than JOMO.

I’m fighting FOMO with FOMO.

JOMO is a no-go for me.

Ignorance Is Bliss Is Ignorant

My first instinct was to fight FOMO with ignorance.

Ignorance about missing out. IAMO?

Because you can’t fear missing out on something you don’t know about, right? 

But practically, how do you ignore what everyone else is doing? 

Like this?:

Ignorance will not overcome FOMO
Ignorance is not a practical approach to overcome FOMO.


And actually, as much as I hate FOMO, I like knowing what other people are up to. It gives me ideas and motivates me. 

So thanks to Oliver Burkeman’s book, Four Thousand Weeks, I found a better FOMO-fighting approach than “ignorance is bliss.”

The opposite:

Awareness is bliss.

Think about it. As you read this, millions of people are doing cooler things than you.

But even if you married Jeff Bezos, divorced him, then married Elon Musk, you wouldn’t be able to do it all.

Because there’s not enough time. 

And even if you had all the time and money in the world, doing every cool thing you want would lose its luster. Because, as philosophers Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer put it:

“Amusement congeals into boredom.”

Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer

So missing out is like death, taxes, and Drake music—unavoidable. And Burkeman suggests spinning this in a hopeful way: 

“Once you truly understand that you’re guaranteed to miss out on almost every experience the world has to offer, the fact that there are so many you still haven’t experienced stops feeling like a problem.”

Oliver Burkeman

What’s more:

“Missing out is what makes our choices meaningful in the first place.”

Oliver Burkeman.

☝️ FOMO Fighting Tip:

Rather than fear missing out, try guiding and valuing your choices with the awareness that you can’t do everything.

Make More Shake-y Decisions

But what if you’re prone to making the wrong choices?

Instead of saying yes to that dinner party invite, you tell your friend your cat’s sick again. Or rather than invest a couple grand in Bitcoin of Apple, you buy a new spoiler for your car.

Isn’t this decision-making deficiency a big part of what makes FOMO such a MOFO?


But also not as much as you think. Because psychological research finds that we overestimate how much regret we feel for making the wrong choice

You worry you’ll feel a lot of regret for having made a decision, but as long as it’s well-thought-out and doesn’t leave you in jail, with an incurable disease, or with a useless collection of NFTs, you actually end up feeling much less regret than anticipated. 

How so? 

Largely because of an incurable habit we all have—one that Carol Tavris and Elliott Aronson write about in Mistakes Were Made, But Not By Me.


Drawing of self-justification
See my post on how self-justification is like an overbearing mom coddling her child.

Self-justification is your brain’s incredible ability to concoct lies, excuses, and confirmation biases to make your feeble identity feel less bad about your inconsistent and imperfect actions.

And how can you use self-justification to deal with FOMO? 

Make more choices. And act on them. 

Having trouble making a decision.
Can’t decide? Choose the active alternative to minimize long-run FOMO and regret.

This means that when struggling between sticking to the status quo and shaking things up:

  • Stay at home watching Love is Blind, or ask your crush out on a date?
  • Stick with your dead-end job, or go after something more potentially rewarding?
  • Return to Hawaii for the fifteenth straight holiday, or dare to check out Colombia instead?

Lean toward the latter. Get shakin’. 

Because as Cornell’s regret expert Thomas Gilovich puts it,

“Actions… generate more regret in the short term, but inactions… produce more regret in the long run.”

Thomas Gilovich

☝️ FOMO Fighting Tip:

To minimize FOMO and regret in the long run, make well-thought-through action-oriented decisions and count on self-justification to cover up your mistakes.

Find the Right Influencers

Decision-making is rarely as simple as choosing between two options, though. You often have a bajillion potential actions—or Bumble matches, travel destinations, or career paths—to choose from.

How do you pick the one most likely to fend off FOMO?

Luke Burgis’s book Wanting helped me answer this one:

Use mimises to your advantage. 

Rene Girard, who originated the term “mimesis,” explains it like this: 

“Man is the creature who does not know what to desire, and he turns to others in order to make up his mind.” 

Rene Girard

In other words, we want what others want. 

So it’s no coincidence that the term FOMO first appeared in 2004, the same year as Facebook. Because social media spreads fear of missing out like an online sneeze.

Before social media, you’d see rich and famous people on mass media and want what they want. But seeing celebrities party at the Playboy Mansion doesn’t instill FOMO in us regular folk. Because they’re out of our league.

Then came social media. It allows you to follow the lives of people in your league—neighbors, friends, peers, enemies. You’re wired to want what they want. And compete with them over it.

So the more you see on social media, the more you want. You become deeply infected with FOMO. It becomes a paranoia.  

The obvious solution?

Deleting social media from phone to overcome FOMO.
Less social media will lead to less FOMO. Obviously.

Do cooler stuff than your peers. Limit your social media exposure.

Studies find that when undergrads are limited to 30 minutes a day, they feel much better.


But that won’t cure FOMO. Because fighting mimesis is as hopeless as attempting not to miss anything, ever.

So, to use mimesis to your advantage, Luke Burgis sums it up like this:

“Everything boils down to choosing the right expert.”

Luke Burgis

Or, in social media lingo:

Find the right influencers.

These are people you look up to, heroes, or anyone—even, ahem, bloggers—who will inspire you to want the right things and act accordingly.

☝️ FOMO Fighting Tip:

To minimize FOMO, take control of your desires by being careful about whose lives you pay attention to.

YouTube video

Fight FOMO With FOMO

The right influencers will instill in you another type of FOMO—the one I’m fighting FOMO with:

Focus on meaningful objectives.

Pete Davis helped me come to this conclusion with his book, Dedicated.

As Davis puts it,

“To overcome the fear of missing out, we have to make the jump from finding meaning through novelty to finding meaning through purpose.

Pete Davis


“Novelty is exciting at first and wears off over time, but purpose often starts out boring and grows more exciting as time goes on.” 

Pete Davis

Purpose. Great.

But what if you have no clue about what your purpose is?

The good news is that even a small purpose can do the trick. Like the size of my blog. Or my baby son Zac. 

Me using the good FOMO, focus on meaningful objectives (Zac).
Zac’s way more rewarding to focus on than everything I’m “missing out” on.

Sure, I’d like to do all the cool things my friends do—and more. But I’d rather focus on raising a family and continuing to work toward nudging people toward zagging their own extraordinary ways through life.

Sound boring? 

From the surface, I see how you might think so. But I’ve found that the deeper I focus on meaningful objectives, the more unexpectedly rich the rewards I dig up. 

And whereas fear of missing out leaves you chasing one dopamine hit after the other, focusing on meaningful objectives digs up a bottomless well the stuff. So it’s endlessly satisfying.

Michael Long and Dan Lieberman explain the biology behind this in their book, The Molecule of More.

The Molecule of More, by Daniel Lieberman and Michael Long

Find activities that satisfy dopamine and H&N.
The good FOMO finds a happy balance that satisfies greedy dopamine and hippy “here and now.” (More on dopamine here.)

Focusing deeply on a meaningful objective is a non-stop win-win:

  • It rewards you pleasure-enjoying “Here and Now” neurons, like serotonin, oxytocin, endorphins.
  • And it satisfies your pleasure-seeking dopamine pathways.

This starts a virtuous cycle where you eventually become so enthralled with your FOMO that you don’t give a crap about what you might be missing out on.

☝️ FOMO Fighting Tip:

Rather than compete with people in your league chasing after FOMO-worthy dopamine hits, find meaningful purposes to focus on that give you a constant buzz.

Spread the (Good) FOMO

“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.”

Lao Tzu

If you live a life focused on meaningful objectives, others may observe you and fear they’re missing out. And maybe that will inspire them to fight FOMO with FOMO, too. 

What do you think?

If you’re interested in beginning to fight the fear of missing out with a focus on meaningful objectives, I’ll leave you with one quick exercise.

Ask yourself:

What have been some of the most fulfilling experiences of your life?

Your answers will give you clues on where to start finding a meaningful objective to focus on.  

And then you can join me in spreading the message to fight FOMO with FOMO.

Watch the Video Version

YouTube video
Watch: The FOMO antidote you won’t wanna miss (7 min)

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About the author

I'm Chris. Grinding for conventional super success was exhausting, so I zagged. Now, my life's getting better and better—and part of that involves pushing you to work toward the same.


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