FOMO vs YOLO and Choosing a YOLO Lifestyle


I randomly asked myself this question the other day. Not even sure why. But random thoughts pop into my head so often that it doesn’t even phase me now. So anyway, YOLO vs FOMO.

This prompted me to ponder the deeper idea behind each one—beyond following a trend or using culturally cool slang. I mean, I know what the acronyms stand for, but really, how do the phrases ‘you only live once’ and ‘fear of missing out’ apply to real life?

It was time for some research, which I love. Not kidding! I was that college kid who geeked out on the research phase of writing a paper, but loathed the actual writing part. Researching YOLO and FOMO gave me all sorts of happy, nerdy feelings. And, I did what any self-respecting, information-seeking Millennial (by birth year, but not life experience) would do. I consulted Google.

Google. Trusty Google confirmed that I am no doubt Team YOLO. Why? Because ‘Fear of missing out‘ implies doing something to follow the crowd, and I prefer to blaze my own trail when adventuring! The more I Googled, the more I felt a greater connection to ‘You only live once.’

And then, I took it one step further. I came up with my own definition of ‘You only live once‘ and call it the “YOLO Lifestyle.”

My definition of YOLO Lifestyle

  • Life is short. Make the most of each day you’re given. (It’s even in the Bible! Psalm 90:12)
  • Don’t waste your life saying ‘I can’t’ or ‘someday.’ Focus on what you can do NOW and do it.
  • Do the things that scare you, challenge you, or feel like impossible dreams.
  • Follow your passions AND act on them!

Easier said than done? Heck yes! I will personally vouch for that. But, I’m also living proof that it can be done. And I’m just getting started!

Woman about to jump out of a plane skydiving
Skydiving (May 2016)
Woman with hands on hips, standing on an elevated surface and looking at the view
Summit of Sant Jeroni, Spain (May 2017)

How to achieve a YOLO Lifestyle

It honestly doesn’t require much practice or even discipline (though these traits may naturally develop with time). All you really need is:

  1. Passion (first and foremost)
  2. Mental motivation (I think I can… I think I can…)
  3. Gumption (aka. initiative and resourcefulness)
  4. Courage (take a leap of faith!)

Just remember. Switching to YOLO mode doesn’t always lead to instantaneous change. It’s certainly not some magical VOILA! moment. True and lasting changes typically require patience—so add that to the list.

Focus on progress, not perfection

Overall, focus on progress—one day at a time, not an end result—because YOLO is ongoing. I’ve already shared my love of arrows because they remind me to GO and PURSUE and LIVE MY DREAMS. (If you haven’t already, read those posts!) Arrows encourage me to take advantage of every new day God gives me. I guess maybe I should start referring to the YOLO Lifestyle as my Arrow Life!

Woman with earbuds standing next to a white sign that reads "One Way Keep Right" with an arrow
Woman wearing headphones and athletic clothing, sitting on pavement next to a white painted arrow
Legs and white flamingo shoes standing on a white arrow painted on pavement

Here’s a practical example of YOLO played out in my (arrow) life:

YOLO Passion

After my January 2017 Paris trip, I wanted to take a second solo international trip ASAP!

YOLO Motivation

I believed I could, then decided I would, and made it happen. In May 2017, I traveled solo to Barcelona. Simple as that.

YOLO Gumption

I signed up for the premium version of Scott’s Cheap Flights for more frequent deal alerts. I also spent less money on things I didn’t need! When shopping, I asked myself “This, or travel?” More often than not, travel won, and I saved money for trips. I even decided to apply my 2016 tax return completely toward my Barcelona trip, which kept me from dipping into my savings.

YOLO Courage

When I spotted a $440 flight to Barcelona (per Scott’s deal alerts), I held it for 24 hours—to be sure—then booked it! (Note: American Airlines allows you to hold some flights for 24 hours before you actually book. It’s a fantastic perk!) Prior to booking, I honestly hadn’t settled on Barcelona at all, nor was I very familiar with the city. I was just open to anywhere in Europe I could afford.

I also didn’t expect to travel again until the fall—thinking it would be more ideal both time- and money-wise. So, it was an unexpected leap to schedule this trip for early May—just over three months after my Paris trip! I also purchased the plane tickets only 6 weeks prior to departure, which didn’t give me much time to research and familiarize myself with Barcelona.

YOLO Patience

Six weeks is still a loooong time to wait when you’re really, really, really looking forward to something. But, I’m not in the habit of wishing time away, so I focused on researching about Barcelona and building the perfect itinerary. (See Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.) Basically, the travel experience didn’t happen overnight, and waiting certainly isn’t one of my strengths.

Of course, some YOLO experiences are now-or-never, in-the-moment sort of decisions; but, the overall YOLO lifestyle doesn’t always reward you with instant gratification when you take that first leap. Sometimes, ya gotta wait.

Woman wearing sunglasses, taking a selfie in front of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona Spain
Sagrada Familia selfie

I guess my point to all of this is that ANYONE can have a YOLO lifestyle. Do not tell yourself you can’t. If you have a passion, GO forth and pursue it!

Because, you really do only live once.

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