I recently discovered there is this thing called FOMO, fear of missing out. It really is a thing! Funny that someone decided to come up with a name for this malady. As soon as I heard of this FOMO thing, I realized that’s me! I’m suffering from “FOMO!” How did I miss that?! Too often, decisions and choices I make are because I have a “fear of missing out” on something amazing (at least I think it will be) or very important. I know this because historically, my life has resembled a piece of paper with every line filled, along with writing crowding all the margins. My thought process has been, “if there is time left in my day, I can cram one more thing in.” So now I ask myself: What would happen if I simply said no? What would happen if I missed that event I think is so important? Or what if I stayed off-line and just had time to clear my head or have a meaningful conversation with my husband, kid or friend?
Even when we leave white space on our life “pages,” we don’t always fill it with healthy, meaningful activities. Unfortunately, for many of us (yours truly included) our “go-to” is playing a game on our cell phone, chatting on-line, scrolling through FaceBook or Instagram, watching YouTube, or binge-watching shows on Netflix. Technology has enhanced our lives, but at the same time has gobbled up much of our discretionary time and crowded the “pages” of our lives and our children’s lives. We should ask ourselves the question: Does this activity refresh me or add value to me or others? Or does it drain me and/or waste precious moments of my day?
I have to try really hard, we all have to try really hard, to create margin in our lives for quiet time to just think. Or pray. Or dream for the future. Or create goals and make a plan to achieve them. Or have time to talk to a friend in need. Or…….. I regret the way I have lived too much of my life. Frenzied. Frantic. Too busy to stop. Distracted by the noise of life. Running from one activity to the next. Trying so hard to keep up with _______. Trying to do it all. And do it perfectly.
So, I have a success story this week! Lane and I were to leave town last Thursday for Nashville, TN to spend time with some of our adult children. We both had Wednesday night responsibilities at church and had not packed anything yet when we got home at 9:30pm. I had planned to attend my Thursday morning writing class, rush home and jump in the car to head out of town at 1:00pm. AND, I still needed to finish my writing assignment for the class. The insanity of it all hit me, and I decided I don’t have to go to the class. This is optional. Yes, I hate to miss, but I also don’t want to lose sleep because I have to pack, write and be ready to leave at 1:00pm. Score one for Karen! Let’s see how many more great decisions like this I can make going forward! Each time I make a good decision like this and create margin, it will be easier the next time. It felt so good to actually get the sleep I needed, pack with time to spare, fix a nice brunch for us before we left, have my kitchen clean and be ready to leave AN HOUR AHEAD of our desired departure time. Yea!!
The key is balance, which means I might have to choose to eliminate some really good things from my life. Or say “no” to a great opportunity. I may have to disappoint some people to guard those margins. This is really hard for me! I’m a “both/and” kind of girl. I want it all! Don’t want to miss a thing and want to be “all in.” However, in the long run, I am only hurting myself and those I love by trying to have my hand in too many things.
Some of you know I am retired from teaching, at least for now. As much I loved teaching, it feels good, real good to be retired and exploring a different life! But I digress. You may be thinking, “Easy for you to say ‘make margins,’ when you have SO MUCH MORE flex time than I do.” True enough, but believe it or not, I still struggle with keeping those margins in place. I look at the “white spaces” of my days, and think I should be doing more. I could be doing more. And the temptation is great to say “yes” to more good things. But God is not asking me to fill my days with “busy!” He wants me to be intentional with my time and use it wisely.
Just so you know, there have been times in my life when I had to step back from the non-essentials to give myself margin for re-fueling. Like when I was in graduate school and still teaching full-time. Like when Kevin was diagnosed with a brain tumor and needed my care. And then when I was grieving his death. When I was coping with my son’s drug addiction. These were things that were draining my soul, and I couldn’t change it or eliminate it. I had to make adjustments in my schedule, or make margins, to feed my soul. I had to evaluate what was essential to keep and what I could let go for this season of my life.
So I challenge you to take steps to KAMA (Keep a Margin Always) and reduce FOMO in your life:
- Evaluate-What’s essential to keep (prioritize)?, What do I need to cut out to create margins? Am I using my “margin” in a way that feeds my soul or adds value to me or others?
- Eliminate-Take action to reduce responsibilities or non-essential activities to create healthy margin in your life (based on your evaluation above)
- Guard your margins!-Say “no” when necessary, even to good things (you may have to disappoint others)
So, the way I take care of my soul (my mental, emotional and spiritual self) is to stop letting FOMO rule my life and start implementing KAMA (keep a margin always). Because life is precious. I don’t want to waste a moment, but I also want to savor every moment. So slow down, Karen. Create some white space on the pages of your life! Slow down my friend, and take care of you. And in so doing, you will be taking care of your loved ones. Because they will enjoy the refreshed, more “centered” you!