The stars and planets aligned a few days ago as I was flicking through the current Good Health & Wellbeing magazine at my mother’s and came across the acronym FOBO – the fear of better options. I can’t find any reference to it online but I think (the article said) the phrase was apparently delivered by the same man who gave us FOMO (fear of missing out).
I’m a bit FOMO-ish from time to time (which is why I ditched Instagram), but appreciate the joke you often see on social media suggesting many of we introverts actually delight in JOMO (joy of missing out), needing more down / alone time than many.
But the FOBO thing really spoke to me. It was mentioned in an article about decision making. And decision fatigue.
I most definitely struggle with decisions. Weirdly I’m often quite decisive when it comes to big stuff – quitting jobs, moving towns. I mean… I’ll stress about it for a while but then I’ll go with my gut and show no regret. Of course – in line with my black / white nature – the options on offer are probably similar: YES vs NO.
It’s the other decisions I worry about – those where the options are many and I overanalyse them to death… worrying I’ll make the wrong choice.
I assumed the decision-making article would offer up advice like – limit decisions you need to make. A-la Mark Zuckerberg wearing the same clothes each day, or others – like Kelly Exeter (in the old Let It Be podcast) who recommend eating the same breakfast each day. Basically the premise is we save ‘headspace’ (thinking time and energy) by NOT having to make the small day to day decisions – ie. we don’t offer ourselves options in those cases. We save our energy for the big stuff. Requiring us to weigh pros and cons. Navigate head vs heart. And so forth.
I posted the FOBO definition (above, from the magazine) on Twitter the other day and a friend reminded me that often we’re not at risk of ‘missing out on better options’ because often we can have both. Like the little girls says in the taco ad.
And it’s often true. If I don’t cook chicken tonight and instead choose beef, I can certainly have the chicken tomorrow night. But it’s not always the case.
Whether we’re channel surfing trying to find something to watch on television or deciding whether to spend a lot of money getting a broken car fixed, or sell it for a pittance (!!!) it’s easy to become hamstrung, worrying our decision will be ‘wrong’.
I realise of course in many situations there’s no incorrect choice… that we can’t measure what might have been, and it’s the FOBO that I’m struggling with.
I recently wrote about the concept of ‘the path of least regret’ as a decision-making tool (as suggested by Mark Manson). It’s actually one that works for me given the extent to which I generally wallow in guilt and regret.
Although… like the life coaches and inspirational quotes say… my regret is generally more centred around the things I HAVEN’T done, than the things I HAVE done or the decisions I’ve made. I can be surprisingly resolute AFTER I’ve made the decision.
As long as I make the decision based on:
- All of the best information I have on hand
- It’s consistent with my values (ie. good ol’ gut instinct)
Then… it’s all good.
My problem of course…. is the actual MAKING of the bloody decision in the first place. And FOBO.
Can you relate to the FOBO thing? Are you – like me – okay once you’ve made the actual decision?