Some time back, we ran an article here on the AgingOptions blog warning our readers to beware of Facebook – it might be ruining their retirement. (You can find that article here.) Then just a few months later we came across a similar article on the popular financial website MarketWatch. This piece isn’t warning retirees specifically about Facebook, or any other of the popular social media outlets in use today by a growing number of seniors. No, the MarketWatch article is about something more subtle, but just as damaging to your peace of mind and contentment in retirement.
No Room for FOMO
You have to guard against FOMO, says MarketWatch’s Danielle Howard. For those uninformed about this common acronym, FOMO means “fear of missing out” – and these days that fear seems to be everywhere. Click here for the MarketWatch article and discover for yourself “how the ‘fear of missing out’ can keep you from enjoying retirement.”
It’s easy to understand where this so-called fear comes from: indeed, we experience it practically all our lives, and (we suspect) even more so in this age if social media. People used to call it keeping up with the Joneses. “You see your friends and acquaintances visiting family, traveling to exotic locals, eating tantalizing food, driving their new car, attending a coveted cultural event, enjoying their new retirement home,” writes Howard, who is an author and certified financial planner. “When you see what everyone else is spending their money on it becomes increasingly difficult to manage the financial tensions of what you need and desire for today as opposed to down the road.”
FOMO Often Triggered by Madison Avenue
This fear of missing out is, of course, aggressively fed by the advertising industry, particularly, Howard suggests, the financial services and pharmaceutical industries. These beautifully-photographed ads all seem to depict impossibly handsome older couples enjoying the good life in their seaside homes or vacation resorts, always in the peak of health, with lots of discretionary income to spare. These campaigns are a marketing illusion, we realize. Nevertheless, says Danielle Howard, they leave you “feeling like you are not enough and lacking in various facets of this new season of life.” The problem is compounded in retirement when our income is usually limited or fixed and spending has to be curtailed, a process which can lead to frustration if not dealt with wisely.
FOMO, says Howard, “can wreak havoc on your financial resources and pull you away from what will truly bring meaning and purpose to your fall season of life.” No matter how old you are, the fear of missing out is “alive and well” and must be “recognized and intentionally battled as you live a life of no regrets.” So how can we quiet the envious whispers in our souls and become more content? Danielle Howard, writing in MarketWatch, has some ideas, and while they sound like common sense, they’re worth considering.
Banishing FOMO Means Getting Your Priorities Straight
First, we need to learn to prioritize connections over acquisitions. “The one with the most toys does not win,” says Howard. “Invest your financial resources, time and energy in cultivating the skills and engagements that will support you in healthy relationships. This brings more fulfillment to our lives.” Keep old friendships healthy and invest time and energy in new ones.
Second, make it a priority to embrace the moment. “Linger over a home-cooked meal with family or friends,” Howard writes. Walk in the woods or wade in the stream. “Your pleasurable moments are not defined by the amount of money spent on them. Many beautiful moments don’t cost a thing, we just need to open our eyes to them.”
Third, be at peace with enough. Is that thing you want or that experience you crave designed to satisfy your soul or to feed your ego? Those things that are soul-satisfying reflect our deepest values and bring us a true sense of peace and joy. “Ego desires, on the other hand, leave us feeling empty and in need of more,” Howard writes. Indulging our spending impulses not only brings a sense of emptiness and futility, it also comes (usually) with credit card debt and a diminished nest egg. The short-lived feeling of gratification is definitely not worth the cost.
Replace FOMO with an Attitude of Gratitude
Fourth, Howard reminds us to focus on gratitude daily. “If FOMO is the fear of not having something that we perceive is necessary for our well-being,” writes Howard, “gratitude is the converse and allows us to truly feel the blessings in living every day. Financially, this keeps us from aimlessly spending money on ego desires to impress people we don’t even know.”
Finally – and this may be harder for some than for others – we must learn to find dignity in the aging process. There is no fountain of youth. Embracing our advancing years with grace, dignity and a sense of humor is the right approach instead of pretending we’re still in our 30s. “Yes, we want to age well: keeping our brains engaged, our bodies in peak performance and our outlook focused on the positive,” says Howard. But for each of us “there is a point where your return on investment doesn’t enhance your return on life. It’s your money,” she adds. Use it well and build a lifestyle that brings you joy and a legacy that will outlast you.
A LifePlan is the Cure for “Retirement FOMO”
If there’s such a thing as financial FOMO, what about “retirement FOMO”? Here at AgingOptions we offer our clients freedom from that fear that their retirement plan is insufficient, incomplete or unsound. We treat retirement in a holistic way, combining the critical aspects of solid retirement planning – finances, housing, medical coverage, legal protection and family communications – into one comprehensive plan which we call a LifePlan. With your LifePlan in place, you’ll have the blueprint you need to build the retirement you’ve dreamed of, one that is fruitful and secure. Best of all, you’ll realize your hopes of protecting your assets, avoiding burdening those you love, and escaping the unhappy trap of being forced against your will into institutional care.
Why not take a simple next step and learn more at an AgingOptions LifePlanning Seminar? Join Rajiv Nagaich at one of these highly popular free events. Thousands of people just like you have discovered the power of LifePlanning in this easy and entertaining way. Click here for our Live Events page and select the seminar that’s best for you; then register online to reserve your place. Come learn more about retirement without fear at an AgingOptions LifePlanning Seminar near you. Age on!
(originally reported at www.marketwatch.com)