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Fear of Better Options (FOBO) is The Reason You Can't Make a Tough Decision

The Freedom of Choice

The freedom of choice is generally perceived to be good, but studies show that too much choice can be a hindrance and can impede the decision.

On the contrary, having fewer choices has shown to provide more satisfaction to the decision-maker.

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Fear of Better Options (FOBO) is The Reason You Can't Make a Tough Decision

Fear of Better Options (FOBO) is The Reason You Can't Make a Tough Decision

https://medium.com/swlh/fobo-fear-of-better-options-is-the-reason-you-cant-make-a-decision-294fb91c18f4

medium.com

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Key Ideas

The Freedom of Choice

The freedom of choice is generally perceived to be good, but studies show that too much choice can be a hindrance and can impede the decision.

On the contrary, having fewer choices has shown to provide more satisfaction to the decision-maker.

Fear of Better Options

... or Maximization, is a behavioral trait that makes us look for all possible options before we decide so that we don't miss out on the best option and regret later, after making the decision.

We take into consideration all available options to minimize our frustration and stress.

Maximizers vs Satisficers

  • Maximizers feel less satisfied even if they make better decisions, since they had so much choice, and choosing the best comes down to some sort of compromise.
  • Satisficers: They are the people that make quick decisions with fewer options and that tend to be more satisfied.

Too Much Choice

A decision-maker may never be able to examine every possible option before making a decision. The assumption that one now has complete information for decision making is in itself somewhat unrealistic.

Satisficers make their life easier and less complicated by accepting good enough and moving on.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Tradeoffs
Every decision we take, has a tradeoff, an opportunity cost. Instinctively we try the all-out approach, resulting in failure.
The real problem lies in our judgm...
Striving for Everything

A tradeoff is inevitable in almost every decision we take, as we usually forego some opportunity or benefit in our choices.

Many people strive for everything and believe there are no tradeoffs.

Focussing on less can get you something but focusing on everything may get you nothing.

Having "Everything"

We seem to think that the people around us have everything in life.

Tradeoffs in others take time to become apparent. Everyone lets go of something, making a sacrifice, to be able to focus, investing time and energy in what is important to them.

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The decoy effect
The decoy effect

It happens when consumers change their preference between two options when presented with a third option, or decoy.

The decoy is priced to make one of the other options much more attra...

How decoys work

When consumers are faced with many alternatives, they often experience choice overload that increases anxiety and hinders decision-making.

Consumers try to reduce this anxiety by selecting only a couple of criteria (say price and quantity) to determine the best value for money.

A decoy steers you in a particular direction while giving you the impression that you are making a rational, informed choice.

Decoy example in the market

Consider the price of drinks at a well-known juice bar: a small (350 ml) size costs $6.10; the medium (450 ml) $7.10; and the large (610 ml) $7.50. The medium is a slightly better value than the small, and the large better still. The medium is designed to be the decoy, steering you to see the biggest drink as the best value for money.

If you buy the biggest, was it because you made a sensible choice, or have you been manipulated to opt for bigger than intended?

FOBO: Fear of Better Options

Whether it is deciding what to watch on TV, or which job offer to accept, Fobo (Fear of better options) can affect anyone.

A Fobo-afflicted person may not make a decision due to wanting compl...

Technology accelerates FOBO

Sophisticated apps and social media only accelerate FOBO, giving us unlimited options. We are unable to decide due to a constant flow of new plans, events, invitations or commitments.

Decision-making people: Maximisers

Maximisers compare everything before making a decision, setting very high standards and expectations for themselves.

They often feel disappointed with their final decision after making it.

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Making decisions
Making decisions

Decision making is critical for entrepreneurs. Every day, you have to set out on a course of action, choose tactics, evaluate results, and otherwise choose from arrays of options.

4 common mistakes that can trip you up
  1. Monumentalizing the Trivial. Place a limit on how long you're willing to spend addressing the issue. When the time ends, make your choice and move on.
  2. Dredging Sunk Costs. Estimate how much the decision would take in total to follow through. If the cost is higher than the benefit, change your decision.
  3. Drowning in Data. Identify less than 10 pieces of relevant data that will have a strong impact on your decision's outcome. Then forget everything else.
  4. Do-or-Die Mentality. Realize that every decision is temporary. Use an overall decision-making strategy that stretches over time, not that imagines each moment to be the most critical one for the business.
The 37%

Mathematics dictates that you should take 37% of the time or options you have to simply look and after that, you should commit to the first option that is better than everything you’ve ...

The brain when we make decisions

The 2 systems of the brain that wok during decision making:

  • System 1 is automatic and quick (like "something feeling off").
  • System 2 is deliberate and slow (like an algorithm).

At times, these systems are at odds with each other, but research shows it's always best to trust an algorithm than your own gut.

Pros-and-cons lists are flawed

There are a few biases they don't address:

  • Narrow framing: the tendency to view an option as your only option.
  • Confirmation bias: our tendency to gather the information that supports our preferred option.
  • Short-term emotion: our tendency to have our judgment clouded when emotions run high.
  • Overconfidence: our tendency to make a decision with too much optimism about how things will play out.

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Tony Robbins' process to make the best decision
  1. Get clear on your outcomes.
  2. Write down all of your options, including those that initially may sound far fetched. 
  3. Kn...
Endless choice leads to inertia

Very few of us feel competent enough to choose between an overwhelming amount of options. When you are offered 156 different kinds of retirement plans, for instance, it can make you miserab...

Areas with increased choices
  • With too many options, people increasingly rely on recommendation engines to help them cope with choice.
  • We pay more for the same stuff. To watch the good things on TV now involves paying monthly subscriptions to many services, where once you only had to pay a TV license. 
  • Privatization of companies leads to many companies offering the same service - but we still feel that we are possibly paying too much.
  • Education becomes a consumer good.
The ideology of choice

The ideology of choice makes us forget that not all things should be bought and sold. Moreover, more choice does not increase our happiness, security, and contentment. It does leave us overwhelmed and anxious so that we often turn to denial and willful blindness.

At least we are thinking about choice and do not merely follow the whims of the market.

Overthinking And Inaction

Overthinking and getting lost in endless options reduces their effectiveness and intelligence by producing inaction.

The solution is to cut through the indecision and overthinking with act...

The Trap of Overthinking

Overthinking becomes an endless cycle of thinking through options, researching it, and through the research finding even more things to think about. 

The uncertainty in this kind of thinking is what keeps us stuck in indecision.

Cutting Through with Action

We should always contemplate the pros and cons, take a step back from the action and get some perspective, see the big picture, consider the deeper Why of what we’re doing. But at some point, we have to say, “Enough!” And then take action.

The costs of indecisiveness
  • Not taking action can cost you an opportunity, or cost money and time as you delay.
  • People waiting for you to make a decision can get frustrated.
  • You can feel stress about your...
How we deal with uncertainty

These are some of the common ways we habitually deal with the uncertainty of a decision. But none of them solve the problem for us:

  • Doing some research. 
  • Writing out a pros and cons list.
  • Asking a bunch of people about their opinion.
  • Putting off the decision.
We are uncertain about
  • What the best choice might be.
  • Whether there will be negative consequences of the choice.
  • Whether we’ll look dumb to others if we make the wrong choice.
  • Whether we’ll feel dumb, or ripped off, and regret it for years to come.
  • Whether we’ll be OK if we make the wrong choice.

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Paradox of Choice
Paradox of Choice
It means that while increased choice allows us to achieve objectively better results, it also leads to greater anxiety, indecision, paralysis, and dissatisfaction.
Overthinking lowers your performance

Our working memory is what allows us to focus on the information we need to get things done at the moment we’re doing them. It is also in limited supply. You can think of it like our brain’s computer memory. Once it’s used up, nothing more can fit in.

When you overanalyze a situation, the repetitive thoughts, anxiety, and self-doubt decrease the amount of working memory you have available to complete challenging tasks, causing your productivity to plummet.

Overthinking kills your creativity

A recent Stanford study suggests that over-thinking not only impedes our ability to perform cognitive tasks but keeps us from reaching our creative potential as well.

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