What's With YOLO?

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Whether you first heard it from the Rapper Drake or came across the acronym on social media, YOLO – meaning "you only live once" – has become an increasingly popular concept during the pandemic. Focusing on the desire to focus on feeling fulfilled in the present and thinking less about the future, the concept appeals to those who may feel uncertain about the future and thus want to enjoy life as much as possible now.

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However, YOLO can lead to several behaviors that ultimately hurt your career, finances and future goals. Here's what you need to know about YOLO and the effects this kind of real-time decision-making and thinking can have on your life.

The Psychology Behind the Motto

The concept of YOLO – very similar to "carpe diem" – closely relates to a need for instant gratification as well as the desire not to miss out on experiences in the present. This often means not thinking about the future consequences of today's actions.

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Whether someone sees friends on social media living more exciting lives or faces a difficult or life-threatening situation that reminds them that life is short, they might feel tempted to live more in the present and take advantage of experiences that bring happiness today.

In the case of the current pandemic situation, people who spent months on lockdown last year may feel an urge psychologically to catch up on everything they've missed. They may see life in a new way that makes them focus more on taking action now.

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This kind of thinking can result in behavior that may feel great now – such as splurging on an impromptu vacation or quitting a steady job. However, this can hurt later on if that decision drains your savings or puts you off the career track you'd planned.

In some cases, living with the YOLO motto in mind can lead to very risky or even criminal behavior that puts your health, freedom, security or life at risk. Therefore, there's a real danger to thinking only in the short term and not considering the future effects of actions.

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YOLO and Your Career and Money

When you live according to the YOLO motto, you could experience positive or negative effects on your career depending on your situation. If you decide that life's too short to work a job you find unfulfilling, you might feel motivated to seek your dream job, learn a new skill or even start your own business. If you go freelance, for example, you might find freedom in the flexibility you get compared to a 9-to-5 job.

On the other hand, if you leave an unfulfilling job without a plan, decide to job hop or stop focusing on your career growth, you can get hurt in the long term by having fewer possibilities for advancement or salary growth.

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Making decisions with the idea of YOLO usually hurts your finances more than it helps, since the concept often relates to deciding to spend more money rather than save it for the future. For example, you might feel tempted to splurge on the latest gadget, drain your savings for a luxury cruise or put off saving for retirement to buy unnecessary things. When you're living like there's no tomorrow, you may feel tempted to take on more debt to fund your experiences, and this will make it harder to manage daily expenses and save later.

You might also make risky decisions that affect your health or cause legal issues, and these issues lead to other expenses.

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To improve your career and finances in the future, you can also seek iPhone and Android apps that help with planning and goal setting. For example, you can use an app like Mint to keep track of your spending, Acorns for retirement planning and investments and LinkedIn for networking and career development.

So, What Can You Do?

To avoid letting the concept of YOLO negatively affect your life, think through your decisions carefully and avoid the temptation to make decisions that feel good now but may hurt you later. This means that before you spend a lot of money or make major career moves, you should carefully consider how those actions will affect your long-term career and financial goals. It helps to also talk with a neutral person who can provide insight and help you avoid thinking about the decision from just your angle.

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