How FOMO drew me back to another summer of counting steps

Virgin Pulse tracker still in its orange package. Underneath the oval shaped grey tracker gadget it says, in white block letters, "LET YOUR ADVENTURE BEGIN."
Virgin Pulse tracker still in its orange package. Underneath the oval shaped grey tracker gadget it says, in white block letters, “LET YOUR ADVENTURE BEGIN.”

“FOMO” means “fear of missing out.” I hate missing stuff. Even stuff I don’t particularly love but others are excited about. And so: I have signed on for another summer of step counting in the Virgin Pulse Global Challenge (known last year as the Global Corporate Challenge but it has since, obviously, found a new corporate sponsor).

Last summer I went from excited (see for yourself) to uncertain (see the beginning of the downward spiral) to “never again” (okay lesson learned: never say never). In fact, in the Freudian slip of the year, I accidentally flushed my tracker down the toilet at my doctor’s office about a week prior to the end of the challenge.

One of the things I disliked most was the tracking element, considering my unchanging views about tracking and the panopticon. I also found limitations in the over-focus on step-counting (there is more to fitness than hitting your step target!).  But one of the things that made it hardest to stay motivated was that over time, it became clear that some of my team mates just weren’t into it.

As I said in my re-cap post, being on a team only works if the whole team is into it. My whole team wasn’t into it. The organizers really promote the team thing. And here’s where my FOMO kicked in this year: Maybe, just maybe, if I had a team that was into it, it could be fun!

I like group things. This is an evolution since the early days of the blog when I was more of a solo type. Now I enjoy the camaraderie of being part of a team or a group. It feels good to be a part of something that others are also invested in. It feels good to join with others in something that has benefit for the individuals and the group. And it feels awful to be on the outside looking in when everyone else is excited and a part of a thing that you’re not (FOMO).

So not only am I doing the Challenge again this year, but I’m the captain of a team. We came up with our team name last week: Oh, the Humanities! One of our members is a roller derby-er who is assigning derby names to anyone who wishes to have one. I’m Associate Dean Smackademic (though it was a toss up between that and Too Fast Tofurious, which literally lost in a coin toss).

I’ve got my new tracker. I’ve downloaded the new app. I’ve already sent a rah-rah email to my team. And I’m moderately geared up to exceed last year’s average of 16,000 steps a day.

I’m trying to go in with an attitude of “this is fun!” rather than being hyper competitive and feeling the weight of obligation. I’m going to use it to motivate myself and, I hope, lightly motivate others, to walk instead of drive, run a bit further instead of cutting it short, or have walk-and-talk meetings with those who are able. I have no illusions that Oh, the Humanities! will be able to rival our Faculty’s “curated” team, which I’m not on and which was carefully constructed out of high-achieving athletes, built to be competitive. Sam’s on that team. I think it would just stress me out.

Here’s hoping my FOMO hasn’t led me into something I’m going to regret.

Has FOMO ever got you to do something that you quickly regretted having committed to?




4 thoughts on “How FOMO drew me back to another summer of counting steps

  1. Love your derby name. Love both of them in fact. You might just have to try roller derby to use those names!

  2. I’m feeling some FOMO right now about a similar type of challenge. It’s Bike Month here and many of my coworkers are participating in it. The goal is to ride the most as a team. I’ve done it in the past, but this year I can’t ride a bike because of an injury. You’re right that it’s so tough to be on the outside looking in! I’m trying to make peace with the fact that I can’t participate this year and cheer my coworkers on from the outside. My inner competitor is less than pleased, though. Thanks for writing about this!

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