You know that feeling when you’re scrolling on facebook and it seems like very single runner you know is at an event and you’re not. Happened this weekend for me with Ragnar Trail McDowell Mountain. It wasn’t that long ago that I learned of the phrase FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and it’s a new common ‘illness’ for many people. Not sure this was a thing before social media though. Seems like the biggest reason people have it is because they are scrolling on facebook/social media and watching other people “have all the fun”. Let’s face it, no one is going to post when they are not having fun!
So I figured out how to get over FOMO…but first a few personal experiences that helped me get over it…. 😉
The first time I recall it happening to me (I didn’t know there was a phrase for it) was when several of my running peeps that I had been coaching, decided to schedule their first marathon. I was ready to do my first too but had a particular one in mind for me since it was going to be on my 41st birthday. I love doing races on my birthday! Unfortunately they had picked the Rock N Roll which was a month before mine. What should I do? I really wanted to be with them when they ran their first marathon as that was such a big deal…..but selfishly, I didn’t want them to complete their first marathon before me! I contemplated changing mine but…..
Another time I was struck with FOMO, was last year when several of my running friends got into the Chicago Marathon. Most of them had put their name in for the lottery and pretty much all of them got in. Seems like everyone and their mother had got into the race. This is my original group of running friends that mainly met through me and I was feeling really left out…but wait, I didn’t even put my name in for the lottery so why was I so bummed out? I was going to miss out on the fun with them……
This last time was this weekend with Ragnar Trail. I have a love/hate relationship with this race honestly. The first time we did it we had 2 teams that had never done one before. We had a blast! Did it the 2nd year and wasn’t quite as fun and then the 3rd year I went up and ran a few legs to help a few teams and then came back home. This year, I couldn’t commit because I was in the middle of my Toastmaster competition and if I won, I would be in Flagstaff competing the Friday of Ragnar. Well, last Saturday, I lost that competition so there was still an opportunity to go. Heard from a few teams that needed runners (I wouldn’t even have to pay to be on one team!) but as much as the FOMO was setting in, something was telling me not to do it……
I know you are all looking for a good sexy answer that will help you get over FOMO (whether it’s from running or not) but as I tried to analyze how I got over it with all three of these scenarios, I realized it was really pretty simple…well, seemingly simple but not really easy to implement. I just made a conscious choice to be OK with not being there. This is a skill I’ve learned directly from my daily meditation practice. People ask me what I’ve learned from meditation and sometimes I can’t really quantify it. I realized as I was still going through this yesterday, how I was learning to get over it. By becoming self aware (that I was feeling FOMO), focusing on the present moment (being happy in this moment), detaching from the outcome , I was able to get my ego out of the decision making process and go by what my body (or spirit if you will) really wanted to do (our bodies always know best but our ego is the one that gets us in trouble). So here is how I got over the examples above. Mind you, I didn’t realize I was using this for the first two examples but it all made sense yesterday when I was trying to analyze this situation.
So my friends wanted to do another marathon and not the one that I picked? Once I focused on them and not me (ego), I was so excited for them to complete their first marathon before their coach! And I was able to be there for every single one of them and watch them cross that finish line! If I were running the same one, I would’ve missed out on that opportunity. Plus I had to remember what my goal was and I really wanted to run my first on my birthday (the picture in my header of them cheering is my first marathon and one of my favorite pics ever). I made a conscious choice and was happy with my final decision.
For Chicago, I had my ego take a step back and the first realization was that I don’t even like running road anymore! Why would I want to train for a road marathon even if many of my friends were doing this race…that’s a lot of energy AND money to put into something that I really don’t enjoy doing anymore. Even if I had the money, training for a full marathon is a big deal and I’ve learned through ChiRunning that you have to have a goal/vision as to why you want to do a big event like a marathon, ultra, etc because that’s what will keep you going when the going gets tough and you want to quit. Once I took my ego out of the way, I made a conscious choice to be OK with not being there and loved seeing their posts on facebook during race day!
For Ragnar this year it was a bit tougher which really prompted this blog post. I’ve always wanted to do an Ultra Ragnar and had a few opportunities but was still committed to my Toastmaster contest so I couldn’t agree to help out either team that reached out to me. Once I found out that I lost, I thought I could go up like I did a few years ago and just cover some legs for teams, etc. But then I started remembering the atmosphere at Ragnar and that I would have sooo many friends up there and it’s so easy to get caught up in partying, etc. (yes, there is a good Fireball story there but just know it wasn’t pretty). Mind you, I am not an alcoholic or anything but I am self aware enough (see a trend with being self aware?) to know that I may not be able to contain myself and could get caught up in some not so good things. Plus I really needed to get a long run in this weekend and I had no guarantee I would get that if I showed up at Ragnar. Last but not least, as much as I am an extrovert and love being around so many friends, a quiet weekend mainly to myself sounded really good!
So next time you are feeling left out of something or are feeling “jealous” because all your friends are doing something that you can’t (or on the fence about it and the major thing pushing you is “because everyone else is doing it”), try these steps:
- Be self aware and admit that you have FOMO 😉 sounds basic but self awareness is the key. I am very aware of FOMO when it’s happening to me.
- Get centered and present. To get your ego out of the way, you have to be in the present moment and be mindful. If you are not used to this, a good way to do it is to sit quietly and start focusing on your breath. Being present means not thinking about the past or the future but being in the current moment that is happening. Breathing helps with this…start counting your breaths or saying IN and OUT as you are breathing.
- Ask yourself why you are feeling it. More than likely you will find that ego is the one causing you to be jealous of what others are doing. Do you really want to do it because everyone else is? What will happen by you not doing it? Go so far as to write the pros and cons down if you need to. Usually by this point, your gut feeling (true self) will kick in and let you know what is right for you.
- Make a conscious choice. At this point you are either deciding to jump off the bridge with everyone else or not. Do you want to do this for you or are you doing it because everyone else is doing it? If you go for it, at least you can say that you know exactly why you are making that choice because it wasn’t an overreaction but a conscious decision. If you decide not to, you also made a conscious decision and can be happy with it. (Doesn’t mean you still may not feel the FOMO but you will be comfortable knowing that it wasn’t an overreaction and a solid decision on your part.)
In my first two examples above, I didn’t realize I was following this process. I had just started my meditation practice before my first marathon. As I struggled over the last week with my Ragnar FOMO (on Friday night I was still contemplating going up to camp to hang out with friends for a few hours), I realized I had a process and put into effect which led to this blog.
Was it easy? Of course not…but by not doing Ragnar this weekend: I got a 16 mile run in (may not have been able to get this in at Ragnar), I was able to sleep 9 hours and 5 minutes (I would’ve never got this at Ragnar!), get some time in with my family and had a very relaxing weekend (saved myself quite a bit of money and time!)
Would I have had a blast if I went to Ragnar? No doubt about it! But the only reason I wanted to be there was because everyone else was doing it….and that is no reason to do anything. Love this picture I found from The Oatmeal as I was looking for images for this post!