Apparently 2014 is the year of joyfully missing out, or JOMO. You haven’t heard? I came across this new buzz term when a UK magazine editor wrote about it recently in a newspaper editorial.

Via Carla Faro Barros
Via Carla Faro Barros

Her piece referred to a growing trend among many of us that sees us go so hard during the week, running between commitments (work and otherwise), that we land at the weekend too pooped to do anything else. And so begins the process of pulling out of social engagements with friends and family. Usually at the last minute and by text. We just can’t cope with any more. We’re schedulely spent. Stressed. And a little anxious. (I wrote a post last week about why I think everyone’s feeling anxious right now, if you’d like to catch up.)

Of course, when we pull out of things, we often experience FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). And if you’re on the receiving end of the last-minute cancellation, you experience The Shits, especially if you’re single with no Backup Husband to Collapse on the Couch With.

But in both scenarios, missing out can provide an opportunity to experience joy. So goes the theory. Actually I’ll rephrase that and add my additional layer to the topic:

We must miss out to experience joy.

You might have noted my call to arms of late. I’m really getting heavy on the importance of taking responsibility for our own peace and happiness. It’s imperative that we reclaim ourselves and not seek answers from others and other things. Missing out – deliberately so – is part of this.

* Missing out, or actively doing less “out there”, allows space to explore our inner selves. It gives us the room to turn the focus inwards instead of constantly responding in our frantic Pavlovian way outwards. It’s like when we find ourselves with a flat iphone and time to kill on a train or at the airport. We have space to sit with our own thoughts. We unfurl. We get intimate and cosy with ourselves. Right?

* Plus there’s this: By deliberately turning down an engagement to have a quiet night in sends a massive “up yours” to the ceaseless pressure “out there”. It makes an important statement. It’s empowering.

* Then, once we experience this space, as well as the peace and happiness of our inner selves, joy flows in.

* Add to this the thrill of feeling back in control of our peace and happiness, instead of being at the whim of the next brunch inclusion, Facebook notification or diversionary (but often dull) night out.

This yearning for less “out thereness” that we’re all trying to articulate is not about seeking silver linings in secondary situations. It’s about taking the prime cut up front. And owning it.

What do you do to actively miss out? Right now I’m having Saturday nights in on my own and switching off social media from dinnertime onwards (PS some of my social media posts are pre-programmed!).

Have your say, leave a comment.

  • Haylz123

    fantastic post. I tend to keep Friday nights free and Saturday nights my social night. Friday night usually consists of a glass of wine in the bath and a nice early night. Getting past the ‘fomo’ is one of the best things ever.

  • Ms Jane

    Just the word “unfurl” makes me feel peaceful! I used to always be a canceller but now I always take a moment before agreeing to something and then just own it straight up if I don’t wanna go. It’s guilt free and honest.

  • The merrymaker sisters

    Could not agree more with you Sarah! We have purposefully scheduled ‘down time’ where we plan absolutely nothing! When the down time comes, we just do whatever comes to mind or what ever we WANT to do! Weird right, doing what we want to do and enjoying it?! Gasp! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  • YES YES YES! I love this and the massive up yours to the pressure ‘out there’!
    Time to reclaim our time and our sanity and collectively chill more.
    Great article Sarah.

  • [email protected]

    I am a total homebody, and feel like I can only really be good with other humans when I am good with myself. I spend a lot of time at home just blogging, yoga-ing, cooking or just watching TV. I do suffer from FOMO sometimes, but I know that I feel better because of time at home!

  • Gabriella

    By deliberately turning down an engagement to have a quiet night in sends a massive “up yours” to the ceaseless pressure “out there”

    I LOOOOVE this!!

  • Catriona

    Sundays are sacred for my family. I like to do what feels good on the day (for all of us) whether it be stay at home and garden or go out and see people or something. Just the freedom of having no plan is delicious and peaceful. The rest of the week is so scheduled that the break is important.

  • Sar

    Not being to available keeps others wondering what your up to! It’s often nice to enjoy ones own company.

  • Feliss

    When I was a child, we went to mass on Sunday mornings and then had a family lunch at home. Sometimes it was just the five of us – Mum, Dad and my sisters and I. Sometimes my aunt and grandmother came, other times we had the whole extended family over. It’s only recently that I’ve come to realise how important calm routines like this can be. Non-one worked on Sundays back then and there was little to do outside the home anyway. Not much was open and of course there was less (nothing?) on TV and no electronics so Sunday was a calm, relaxing day anyway. Now, with my own children, I’ve come to wonder whether I shouldn’t reclaim Sundays and do something similar at our place. Maybe a regular Sunday lunch where any members of the extended family who can come do? Thanks for the food for thought!

    • Patricia

      Feliss, Same routine for me on Sundays as a child. Loved it. Very settling.

  • Patricia

    Have this displayed on my fridge.
    “Stop the glorification of busy”

  • Patricia

    Saw this quote recently, so have it on my fridge
    “stop the glorification of busy”

  • Great post. Thanks! I have declared Sundays to be technology-free. No FB, no internet, nada. If I want to read something, it’s a newspaper, book or magazine. I also try to get into the nearby Vancouver forest…either for a hike or like thislast Sunday, a glorious snowshoe day.

  • Angelika

    Oh Thank You! It is such a relief to hear that other people love their ‘unfurl’- space too. I used to torture myself cancelling on events after hastily agreeing to attend them in the first place, now I get such joy from looking forward to the weekend to simply ME time! Morning hikes, weekend playlist, baking and a book – that’s bliss to me.

  • Maddie

    I recent read “Positive Solitude: A Practical Program for Mastering Loneliness and Achieving Self-Fulfillment” by Dr Rae Andre, which I completely recommend to you, Sarah, and to your readers, my friends and family – everyone. A book on how to be a more complete, less anxious human and how to engage thoughtfully and healthily in the relationships you do choose to value and pursue. A +++

  • Lucy Rundle

    Great post Sarah. I love this.
    I (like you) am prone to anxiety and feel like nothing can make you feel worse than having too many plans! With the rare exception, I generally never make plans on Sundays. I have no shame in admitting it either when people ask me to do things. Usually they think it’s quite cool and we just make plans for another day. Also, try to keep mid-week outings to one or two. If I’ve already got too school nights booked in a week and someone tries to make plans, I’ll just say I’m busy all week.
    Although sometimes I still find it difficult, I find the older you get, the more comfortable you become with saying no to things…

    • john

      i think in today’s society being busy is considered glamarous. i seriously don’t know why. you see people sitting on public transport, at restaurants perhaps waiting for their food, or friends. they are constantly on their phones. they are unable to just sit and wait. i think it must be anxiety. people feel like losers if they are seen doing ‘nothing’. this insecurity is like those who need a cigarette to cling onto and puff away as to appear occupied. which is why i have ditched the mobile phone. i have a home phone with an answering machine so messages that are important i respond to and messages that aren’t i ignore. it is seriously the most liberating thing ever. all those beeps and bops of incoming texts and advertising are no longer a problem. and who needs a mobile, when you have a landline, or email? honestly, nothing is ever so urgent that you need to be contacted immediately. and if it is, people will always be able to contact you regardless. i also refuse to go on facebook, twitter or any other social media for the same reasons. i could go on and on, you probably think i’m geriatric but i’m only 33! anyway, great post sarah!!

      • imogen

        Yes! John i totally agree! So glad i found someone else who has ditched the mobile! (My friends think i’m crazy!) Like you i also refuse to use facebook and other social media although i love reading blogs -like this one! I love the feeling of not being contactable. I’m 35 years old and have been brought up with parents who were abit older than my friend’s parents. They had what you would consider ‘codger interests’ gardening, cooking. Mum would cook lunch and dinner every night and dad would always be in the garden. They did everything themselves – by hand. No takeaway food – EVER! They didn’t have time to have silly little bouts of the blues, there was always something to fix, tend to, otherwise we’d go hungry. Anyway, I have carried that into my adult life. When i’m off work, i love doing ‘chores’ (could never hire a cleaner) it’s just the act of doing that i find therapeutic. Plus i heard that moving around constantly, pottering around is more effective longterm health-wise than going to the gym!

      • Patricia

        Well said John, I agree. Your first sentence is especially true.

  • Ally

    It’s nice to know I’m not the only one! I regularly find myself saying no to things on the weekends to bask in the wonders of my comforting couch. The idea of being social is a nice one, but by the time Friday night comes around all I want to do is collapse and be unaccountable!

  • Isabella

    I’ve been purposefully making myself unavailable to my iphone each evening after 8pm onwards. Just to enjoy my space, read or be creative without annoying text messages etc. Very re-energising.

  • So relate to this – have just cancelled a night out with a friend on Friday as I’ve had such a hectic week. Last weekend left me feeling I needed another weekend to recover!

  • Emily

    I love this. This is especially meaningful for me at the moment.

    A friend of mine is constantly planning things and stretching her time out as much as possible. I notice that she gets burnt out quite frequently, and ends up not turning up to plans or forgetting to respond to invitations because she has so much on her plate.
    It gets quite frustrating.

    But what I’ve noticed is that she appears to have this expectation that I am always free when she wants. Sometimes that works out great, but other times I get annoyed when she cancels at the last minute (especially because I might put something on hold if it doesn’t need to be done straight away, like grocery shopping or fitness
    stuff).

    I get quite anxious and suffer from insomnia if I don’t get enough exercise in. And if I don’t do my grocery shopping I end up eating take away and food that is not my ideal (not good for my waist or my wallet).

    So recently, I have just started refusing the last minute invites just because she is free. There is such freedom in saying, no tonight I’m doing what I want to do. I feel calm and happy when I’m organised and it’s liberating to make this my priority and not just go along with an invite because of that irrational feeling that it is the last opportunity.

  • Gilza

    I’d like to have an engagement to turn down.

  • MK

    I’ve just had a month of ‘missing out’ by choice, I actually feel like I’ve missed out and wish I hadn’t so much, I think it’s important to take some time out but too much can feel isolating. I then said yes to an invite from a family member as I had said no already twice and didn’t want to upset them! Glad I did as it was nice to be social again. I think the balance can be tricky but important, something I haven’t quite got right.

  • Karen

    I love this. My partner and I are totally on the same page – we look at people packing their weekends to the max and think it’s madness. We both have busy lives, he travels a lot with work, so that down time to recharge is essential. We perhaps plan one thing on the weekend, but sometimes none, and then just luxuriate in the delicious open space doing whatever we feel like. Which is often very little.

    I’ve always been very content in my own company. I’m never happier than when I’m pottering in my kitchen or watching an enjoyable DVD at home. It’s nice to know there are others feeling similar! Although my partner did jokingly comment that I was behaving like a retiree at times recently! Having said that, my parents are retired and are always out and about being crazy busy. The generations feel like they’ve flipped!

  • So true Sarah

  • Everylastbreath.com

    Thanks for this brilliant post–I blogged about it. I love when you come to a place of acceptance about FOMO and now, JOMO!!

  • Fiona

    I have to apply FOMO to Facebook, since getting an iPhone (which i resisted for sooo long) I am on it every 5 minutes. Im not kidding… its crazy. It is making me a lunatic. If am away from it for an hour I wonder what I’ve missed and frantically start scrolling. The biggest downside is it is making me dislike people, people that are supposed to be my friends – I suppose because I am ‘seeing’ too much of their lives, opinions, bullcrap. Anyways, last night I removed the icon from the screen… baby steps. I checked today at lunchtime by signing in through Safari. Id missed nothing. YAAY !!! Hope I can do it again tomorrow.

  • SB

    I am just about to post about JOMO on my own blog in reference to reading Bertrand Russell’s Conquest of Happiness. I am glad I saw this first because now I know of the term I can help use it!

    Sean.