Three Action Thursday


Data dictionary to help you with this piece:

  • KUWTJ – Keeping Up With The Joneses
  • YOLO – You Only Live Once
  • FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out

Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have.
– Louis E. Boone, American academic author of contemporary business and economics

This quote is so interesting to me. The first half, “Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things” epitomizes what I see many times in our personal and professional lives. Our own fear restricts us from becoming the best versions of ourselves. Our internal scripts about ‘who we are’ stop us from developing into ‘who we could become’. But the second half of the quote, “The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have” is just as powerful. One of the things I like to do is to meet with people in different phases of life and ask them questions. Routinely a co-worker would retire and I’d be their first lunch meeting the following week. I began hearing common themes: “I wish I had started saving earlier”; “I don’t have a plan on what to do in retirement”; “I feel like I’ve lost a part of my identity”.

I have noticed a shift. More and more people are valuing experiences over things but are finding it hard to balance their sense of KUWTJ with “freedom”. Let me give a concrete example. I have routinely heard something along the lines of, ”I would love to quit my job and travel for a few months, but I have this student loan payment and this mortgage payment to pay.” Oftentimes people stay in jobs they hate because they have limited their freedom by acquiring things.

You Only Live OnceWhat might be worse still is at the opposite end of the spectrum: people justifying their poor decision-making by shrugging and saying YOLO. YOLO disrespects the future you by saying “Eh, you may not exist.” and I think is a damaging philosophy. Taking a logical view of it, even insurance companies actuary tables will show that odds are you are going to live a long while. YOLO is really a challenge for some people but those experiencing YOLO’s quieter and mentally vicious cousin, FOMO probably have a more pervasive daily trial.

Fear Of Missing Out

As an extrovert, I struggle most with FOMO. I’ve more or less been able to remove the YOLO and KUWTJ mentality from my brain by feeling appreciative of what I have already, but FOMO is a tough one. When social media bombards you with pictures of people on beach vacations, at awesome concerts or conferences, or making extravagant purchases there is an inner voice that says “You should be experiencing that too!”. FOMO also strikes when I turn down attending events, parties, and conferences because it is in the best interest of my family and/or business that I not attend. It is difficult because these events/opportunities tend to feed my extroverted nature.

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