Most of us are aware of FOMO (fear of missing out) but what about JOMO (joy of missing out)? I am as guilty as anyone in sometimes missing out on some things in the pursuit of perfection. In this last week I have been somewhat housebound (Mr B isn’t too well) and missed out on a good few events and somewhat to my surprise I haven’t found it dull or dissatisfying – in fact quite the contrary.
It has made me realise that old adage of ‘progress not perfection’ should rule here in my house for greater happiness, and that it’s quite ok to miss the party, food splurge and booze-fuelled event for a better choice, compliance and no-regrets. I might also take a few more risks when unencumbered by perfectionism too … read Lauren Laverne’s take on this and see if you agree …
While I’m writing this, I’m not at a party. It’s someone’s leaving do and I was assured there would be music, cocktails and a Soho roof terrace set aside for interesting smokers and the people who hang around them. All of my pleasure triggers. The irony is I’m not doing that so that I can write about JOMO.
Now, in general, I disapprove of the self-conscious use of acronyms in everyday conversation. They’re usually a big old load of ludicrous oratory concocted by keen salesmen (B.O.L.L.O.C.K.S for short). If you’re using them out of professional necessity – perhaps you’re an operating theatre nurse choosing between rib spreaders – by all means, go ahead. If, on the other hand, you’re describing exactly what type of vegan you are, or issuing an ironic description of your middle-class existential crisis, you’ve probably got time to say it in full.
Still, JOMO. It’s a thing. The phrase was brought to my attention this week by a lovely colleague (hi, Zoe), but it was coined by Anil Dash, American entrepreneur and technologist. JOMO is the anti-FOMO. It describes the Joy Of Missing Out. The quiet satisfaction to be found in knowing that, although something excellent is happening where you aren’t, you’re glad you’re where you are, and committing to it. In my case, it means choosing fresh pyjamas, a warm laptop and a deadline met on time. In the blog that first featured the phrase, it meant Dash choosing not to go and see his hero, Prince, play at Madison Square Garden so that he could head home and bathe his newborn son (hope he’s still feeling J over MO on that one).
JOMO is the anti-FOMO. The quiet satisfaction to be found in knowing that, although something excellent is happening where you aren’t, you’re glad you’re where you are, and committing to it
It’s strange – we fetishise choice, but fear making choices. We love options, but hate decisions. But endless choice isn’t just a fiction – it’s a trick. “Perfect is the enemy of good” is a lot older than JOMO – the saying had been in use for a couple of centuries when Voltaire popularised it by inclusion in his 1764 Dictionnaire Philosophique – but it’s an elegant expression of a very similar idea: if you wait for something perfect, you won’t get anything worth having. This mistake is easy to spot and applies to everything, from dating to work, politics to weight loss. I wonder if it’s a tendency people exhibit throughout different areas of their lives. Does the person who’d rather squabble over small ideological differences than achieve progress by compromise also forego exercise altogether because they can’t make it to the gym every day? Or perhaps it’s something we all have a touch of: a perfectionist’s heel. Each treating some part of our lives like a dress we save “for best” and never wear.
The tricky thing is that inaction (which we might describe as temporary, as waiting) often feels like the safe option, but it isn’t. I read a book about failure once. It was by JK Rowling, who you’d think wouldn’t know a lot about the subject, but turns out to be pretty clued up. In Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits Of Failure And The Importance Of Imagination, Rowling writes: “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” I agree. One of the oldest and saddest stories in pop is of the talented artist who heads into the studio vowing not to come out until they’ve made a perfect record, and doesn’t.
That perfection is a pointless goal is one part of the joy of missing out. I think the other aspect – the joy bit – is trickier. Settling, compromise, concession, middle ground – these aren’t concepts we exalt, or decisions we boast about making. Everyone’s going for gold and nobody’s looking for Mr Pretty Close. “You smashed it” is the compliment of our times. Tellingly, it doesn’t contain a scalable, comparative adjective (such as “good”, “better”, “best”). You either smash it or you don’t. Wouldn’t it be an improvement if – metaphorically speaking – we were able to become more comfortable with giving things a whack or just, like, knocking a bit off?
I’m decisive by nature and – as anyone who has met, looked at or heard me will attest – unencumbered by perfectionism, but I can see that there are ways my life could be better if I was happy to do worse. It’s too long to bore you with here, but the upshot is: more lolz, less Hoovering. What might you gain by missing out?
Courtesy of Lauren Laverne on the-pool.com