F.O.B.O. stands for Fear of Better Options. People who suffer from it can spend untold hours, days, or weeks trying to make a decision while searching for — you guessed it — the best possible option.
F.O.B.O. Suffers Unite!
The decisions can range from complex, big, life-changing career or marital questions to simple daily queries.
For me, here’s a frequent F.O.B.O. dilemma: What to make for dinner? I grant you it’s not an earth-shaking problem but still, it’s a constant conundrum.
To avoid this daily vexation, I ask Handsome Hubby what he wants and often get this most unhelpful reply, “I dunno. Whatever’s easy.”
“Thanks, big guy,” I mutter, cursing under my breath.
He just doesn’t get it. Deciding what to cook is the hardest part. I have cookbooks galore and as for recipes … Well, I’ve saved enough of those to wallpaper the Sistine Chapel. Yet, picking “whatever” to cook — that’s the challenge.
Experts say that F.O.B.O. can result in relentless, gut-wrenching Internet searches and internal debates which, in turn, can lead to paralysis (or in my household, a costly need to order take-out).
In extreme cases, F.O.B.O. sufferers face regret and lower levels of happiness. To combat these problems, experts urge people to recognize that the “best” option isn’t always required. Sometimes, they say, a “mostly fine” outcome is just fine.
So, in my case, instead of seeking out an impossible-to-make Julia Child recipe for chateaubriand, I should select an Ina Garten easy-peasy flank steak dinner to cook.
Indecision Be Gone!
In the old days, we used to call people who carefully considered their options “perfectionists.” It was mostly a compliment, right? They were the folks we turned to when we wanted things done “right.” Now I guess we’re supposed to worry they suffer from F.O.B.O. and suggest they ease up on their perfectionist ways!
Interestingly, while I “sweat” the little stuff, I handle life’s big decisions with comparative ease. I thank my big brother Gil for this. He was a consummate list writer. Whenever I face an important decision, I list the pros and cons. Then, make my choice based on the resulting logic. If the logic doesn’t feel “right,” I think about it some more. If all else fails, I throw all the logic to the wind and follow my heart. The system rarely fails me.
Maybe I need to try that system to conquer my nightly dinner F.O.B.O. fears? But then I’d be writing groceries lists plus endless pros and cons lists for endless meal options. That’s too much to contemplate! I think I’ll just order takeout. Clearly that’s the best — and easiest — option. Don’t you agree?
Meanwhile, if you want more info about F.O.B.O., here’s the link to a New York Times interview with the man who coined the term.