FOMO = (unseen)effort x results
Jay Vasantharajah aptly points out in his recent post that FOMO is created by an event or a result. The fear of missing out bubbles up when you compare yourself to the output of someone else's work or experience. The result of their work is what you see and ultimately compare yourself to. Yet, the work in that equation often goes unnoticed. So, in practice, FOMO is actually (unseen)effort x results.
The key to dealing with FOMO is then, of course, to ignore the event and focus on the effort. When you're only looking at the result in isolation, it typically seems obvious. But when you factor in the effort that leads to a result, the process of how that result came to be is revealed. And when people see the real effort required to achieve many of the results they crave, a funny thing happens—their FOMO disappears.
There's a good reason for this, and it's the highlight of Ava's post at Bookbear Express on effort. A lot of people want to be, but not a lot of people want to do. As Ronnie Coleman once said, "everybody wanna be a bodybuilder, but don't nobody wanna lift no heavy-ass weights." Anyone can trick themselves into thinking that they want to do. But, it's the rare person who follows through with the effort requires to achieve the results they crave.
If you go to a gym on the first Monday in January, everyone and their mother will be there. Go back on the first Monday of March, and it looks quite different. Where did everybody go? What happened to everyone who signed up and said, "THIS is the year I'm going to get in shape"? They all wanted to be, and they thought they wanted to do. They even tried, for a brief period of time. But it turns out, they didn't really want it that bad. They wanted the results, but they didn't want to put in the effort.
So, with all those people gone, who's left? It's the people who learn to love the process. It's Ronnie Coleman pumping iron in the gym at 6 am every morning, no matter how badly he'd rather be at home laying in bed. It's Katrina Lake building Stitch Fix into a $3B business with less than $50M in VC funding. It's Tom Brady going from the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL draft to the greatest quarterback of all time.
In 2015, Chris Dixon wrote a seminal blog post on company building titled Come For the Tool, Stay For the Network. At the time, it became a go-to strategy for startups to bootstrap a network. There's a parallel strategy at play for the Tom Brady's of the world who cross the chasm from wanting to be to truly being. They come for the process and stay for the result.
For those who learn to love the process, another funny thing happens. The results they achieve become an afterthought to the process it took to get there. The process itself becomes the dream. And when the process itself becomes the dream, there's an interesting shift in mindset. It's no longer about seeking a result—it's about the journey of getting to that result.
As the late Kobe Bryant said during his retirement ceremony, "Those times when you get up early and you work hard. Those times you stay up late and you work hard. Those times when you don't feel like working. You're too tired. You don't want to push yourself, but you do it anyway. That is actually the dream."
The beauty of this mindset is that anyone can achieve it. It sure as shit isn't easy, but anybody can learn to love the process more than the result. And once you internalize this, there's an unlock—you start to see the world through a different lens.
You'll still see the results of others and experience FOMO from time to time. That's natural—it's an inescapable human feeling. But, you'll be able to combat the feeling from overwhelming you. You'll be quick to notice that you're only seeing the result. You're not seeing the process it took to get there.
And then you remember that the result itself is only an afterthought to the person who achieved it. The process is what they care about. And when you remember that, the result becomes just an afterthought for you too.