Fear Of Missing Out

I’ll just scroll through my Facebook feed quickly. Awesome, this 16 year old just made a million dollars with his brand new app. Old school friend is roaming around Cambodia. All smiles at this fancy party (it’s a Tuesday afternoon but sure). Maybe I’ll read the comments and descriptions as well so I can get a more thorough understanding of how much they are enjoying themselves. Person after person, they’re all having the times of their lives. Me? Sending cold emails? Not something I would share on Facebook. People are crushing it and I’m missing out. I want to be out there. I want to be anywhere other than where I am right now.

Sweet, a couple of messages from the group chat. Yeah, I would love to come watch the new Guardians of The Galaxy. Sure as hell beats sitting here alone sending emails that aren’t going to be read anyway.

Want a quick way to crush someone’s self esteem and ruin their day? Tell them that what they are doing won’t result in anything. Tell them that it makes them look antisocial and weird. I’d like to think that I would never tell anyone that but for some reason it’s something I tell myself. Every time I neglect sleeping early to extend the night out, every time I miss a gym session, every time I skip a family party, I’m essentially telling myself that these things suck and I would much rather be having fun doing something else. More specifically, I’m telling myself that there is no fun, enjoyment or benefit from being where I am currently. Everyone else is crushing it and having a great time — I’m missing out.

One of the first things that I learnt in behavioural finance was the idea of the loss aversion bias or the prospect theory.

According to prospect theory, losses have more emotional impact than an equivalent amount of gains. For example, in a traditional way of thinking, the amount of utility gained from receiving $50 should be equal to a situation in which you gained $100 and then lost $50. In both situations, the end result is a net gain of $50.
However, despite the fact that you still end up with a $50 gain in either case, most people view a single gain of $50 more favorably than gaining $100 and then losing $50.
Read more: Behavioral Finance: Key Concepts — Prospect Theory http://www.investopedia.com/university/behavioral_finance/behavioral11.asp#ixzz4fp8StubA

The prospect theory is the theory behind why people hold on so long to falling stocks. The idea is that people are so emotionally impacted by the loss that they can’t sell it. They need to hold on to it in the hope that it will increase in value again. Unfortunately most of these stocks will continue to fall and that’s why it’s common advice to “cut your losses”.

I have a general problem staying disciplined because the perceived benefit of being disciplined day to day is so minuscule. To compound that problem I have to contrast it with all the pain of missing out on all the fun. The potential loss of these opportunities is sometimes too much for me to handle. It’s a constant battle between what I want now and what I want most.

I’ve realised that it’s one of those things that I have to tackle if I want to achieve anything. I think one of the best things I’ve done for myself is try to understand the backstory of some of the greats in different fields like Richard Branson, Michael Phelps and Oprah Winfrey. I think with all of their achievements it’s easy to gloss over all the sacrifices that they had to make. One common lesson from their stories — If there is anything really for me to fear missing out on it should be the fact that I might lose the opportunity to make anything happen for myself, friends or family.

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