We all know FOMO or the fear of missing out, but we seldom hear about its annoying brother, FOBO, or fear of better options.
Now, think of your past experiences. Have you ever experienced when you are contemplating buying cloth or a gadget that you like that you can’t decide because you are thinking about what if there is a better choice somewhere?
Or when you’re in a new restaurant, and you can’t decide among the number of options on the menu, which is the best, so you delay making a choice.
Or if you’re applying for a job and you receive multiple job offers, then you become paralyzed thinking of which is the right company for you.
So, if you know this feeling, you are a victim of fear of better options or FOBO.
What is Fear of Better Options (FOBO)?
FOBO, or Fear of Better Options, happens when you become paralyzed by a decision because you are struggling with the possibility of a better option than what you initially chose.
FOBO can also happen when you think something better will come along after selecting, leading to decision paralysis.
For many, the issue of FOBO is not usually about making a wrong decision but the negative emotions, like regret and anxiety, which many people avoid.
Because of this avoidance, FOBO can also result in indecision and lower happiness.
FOMO and FOBO
FOMO and FOBO are opposite sides of the same coin since they both hurt our overall well-being.
FOMO can cause anxiety and dissatisfaction when we feel that other people are having a better time than us or that we may have missed some opportunities. This feeling has been more prevalent since the advent of social media.
As a result of FOMO, we may have the urge to accept every invitation that comes our way, thinking that we may be the only ones who will miss the fun if we don’t come, which is often exhaustive, especially for introverts.
On the other hand, FOBO happens when we want to restrict our options and commitments by limiting the choices we will consider in a paralyzing manner.
Unfortunately, this may lead to regret and indecision, resulting in not committing at all to anything.
FOMO and FOBO Scenario
Here’s an example of how FOMO and FOBO can work side-by-side. Say you received an invitation from your workmates to go out the next Friday (which is a holiday) to a party, to which you enthusiastically agreed.
Then on Thursday, you received an unexpected invitation from your old high school buddies for a mini-reunion on the same Friday, which you had to decline because of prior commitments.
Then at the party with your workmates that you would normally be excited about, you feel jealous because you see pictures of your old friends having fun, sadly without you. This is where FOMO causes us to overthink and become anxious.
So the next time your workmates invite you to an event on holiday, you don’t have the same enthusiasm as before and do not answer their invitation outright in fear that a better event will happen at the same time. This is where FOBO messes up with our decision.
How to Avoid Having FOBO?
1. Limit your options by establishing personal rules.
FOBO happens because we are having problems with many options. So, by establishing personal rules when selecting between choices, you can eliminate some of the less beneficial ones.
2. Stand by your decision.
The problem with the FOBO mindset is the fear of negative feelings, like regret and anxiety, similar to buyer’s remorse when you buy something and realize it is not what you wanted.
So, during your decision process and after limiting your options, you need to have peace that what you chose is the best option at the time. However, you must also be ready to adjust if there are changes.
3. Accept that there may always be a better option.
Like FOMO, FOBO happens because we are afraid to face negative emotions resulting from choices. However, we still need to be decisive.
By accepting that you can never know if there are better options in the future, you may minimize its effect on your life.
The Fear of Better Options is less popular than the Fear of Missing Out. However, its impact on our lives will also produce negative consequences if we don’t find ways to overcome them.
So, when presented with choices, we need to be more decisive. We can never predict certain things in life, but we need to stand by them.
I hope we can avoid this decision-making killer by being more self-aware and less emotional about our decisions.
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