We've all dealt with paralysing indecision from time to time, but US venture capitalist Patrick McGinnis says that it's become a crippling social phenomenon he's labelled FOBO: the Fear Of Better Options. Whether it's choosing what you want for dinner or deciding on a mortgage, FOBO sees us sucked into a spiral of obsessively researching your options, worried you won't opt for the best one. The eternal search for the perfect possible outcome leads to stress, regret and lower levels of happiness.
"I see FOBO as an affliction of affluence," McGinnis told the New York Times. "In order to have FOBO you must, by definition, have options. It is a byproduct of a hyper-busy, hyper-connected world in which everything seems possible, and, as a result, you are spoiled for choice. It’s also driven by narcissism. People with FOBO put themselves and their needs and wants squarely around the people around them — all of the people who are adversely affected by their FOBO."
He coined the term over 15 years ago (he's also the bloke behind the concept of FOMO) during his time at Harvard Business School.
"I noticed that my classmates and I were always optimising. We hedged, lived in a world of maybes and were paralysed at the prospect of actually committing to something, out of fear that we might be choosing something that wasn’t the absolutely perfect option."
So what can you do to combat your FOBO? McGinnis has two helpful strategies.
For smaller, everyday decisions he will "ask the watch", which is basically like putting it to the universe.
"I whittle something down to two options and then assign each item to a side of my watch," he told the publication. "Then I look down and see where the second hand is at that moment. Decision made."
When it comes to the big stuff, he relies on his venture capitalist experience.
"I write everything down on the topic — pros, cons, etc. — and I read it out loud. That process is basically like writing an investment memo for a V.C. investment, but in this case the investment is of your time, money, energy, etc."
We're adopting these strategies and getting our new joggers delivered ASAP.