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  • [TED: Ideas worth spreading.]

  • You're probably familiar with FOMO.

  • That's short for "Fear Of Missing Out."

  • It's that feeling you get when it seems like everyone else is doing something better than what you're doing right now.

  • But there's another FO you need to know about, and it's far more dangerous.

  • It's called FOBO, and it's short for "fear of a better option."

  • [TED: The way we work.]

  • [Made possible with the support of Dropbox.]

  • We live in a world of overwhelming choice.

  • Even decisions that used to be simple, like choosing a restaurant or making everyday purchases, are now fraught with overanalysis.

  • Technology has only made the issue more pronounced.

  • If you want to buy a pair of white shoelaces online, you have to sort through thousands of items and read through hundreds of reviews.

  • That's an astounding amount of information to process to just buy two pieces of string that cost less than your morning latte.

  • Chances are you've experienced FOBO when you've struggled to choose just one from a group of perfectly acceptable outcomes.

  • It's a symptom of a culture which sees value in collecting and preserving as many options as possible.

  • You might wonder why all of this is so bad.

  • It seems counterintuitive.

  • Shouldn't it be a privilege to have so many good options to choose from?

  • The problem is, FOBO induces such severe analysis paralysis that it can negatively impact both your personal and your professional life.

  • When you can't make decisions with conviction, you waste precious time and energy.

  • Luckily, there is a way to overcome FOBO.

  • Here's a secret.

  • With any decision you make, you first have to determine the stakes, as this will inform your decision-making strategy.

  • When it comes down to it, you only really face three types of decisions in life: high stakes, low stakes, and no stakes.

  • Let's start with no-stakes decisions.

  • These are the minor details of life, where there is almost never an incorrect answer, and in a few hours, you won't even remember making the decision in the first place.

  • A good example of this is choosing what to watch on TV.

  • With thousands of shows, it's easy to get overwhelmed, yet no matter what you pick, the consequences are basically nonexistent.

  • So spending more than a few moments on FOBO is a massive waste of energy.

  • You just need to move on.

  • When it comes to no-stakes decisions, the key is to outsource them to the universe.

  • For example, you can whittle down your choices to just two and then flip a coin.

  • Or try my personal favorite, ask the watch.

  • Assign each one of your choices to one half of your watch, then let the second hand tell you what you're going to do.

  • Looks like I'll be having the fish.

  • That brings us to low-stakes decisions.

  • These have consequences, but none are earth-shattering, and there are plenty of acceptable outcomes.

  • Many routine things at work, like purchasing a printer, booking a hotel or choosing between possible venues for an off-site are classically low-stakes in nature.

  • Some thinking is required, but these aren't make-or-break deliberations, and you'll probably have forgotten about them in a few weeks.

  • Here, you can also outsource decision-makingbut you want some critical thinking involved, as there are some stakes.

  • This time, you'll outsource to a person.

  • Set some basic criteria, select someone to present a recommendation, and then take their advice.

  • Make sure to avoid the temptation to canvass.

  • Your goal is to clear your plate, not to kick the can down the road.

  • Now that you tackled low-stakes and no-stakes decisions, you've created the space and time you'll need to handle high-stakes decisions.

  • These are things like "Which house should I buy?" or "Which job should I accept?"

  • Since the stakes are high and there are long-term implications, you absolutely want to get it right.

  • Before we get to work, let's establish a few basic principles to guide you through the process.

  • First, think about what really matters to you, and set your criteria accordingly.

  • Second, gather the relevant facts.

  • Make sure you collect data about all of the options, so you can be confident that you're truly making an informed decision.

  • And third, remember that FOBO, by nature, comes when you struggle to choose just one from a group of perfectly acceptable options.

  • So no matter what you choose, you can rest assured that the downside is limited.

  • Now that you've established some ground rules, the process can begin.

  • Start by identifying a front-runner based on your intuition, then compare each of your options head-to-head with the front-runner, one-by-one.

  • Each time, choose the better of the two based on the criteria, and discard the other one.

  • Here's the trick to avoiding FOBO.

  • When you eliminate an option, it's gone forever.

  • If you keep returning to discarded options, you risk getting stuck.

  • Now repeat this process until you get down to one final choice.

  • If you follow this system, you will usually end up with a decision on your own.

  • On the rare occasion that you get stuck, you will outsource the final decision to a small group of qualified people who you trust and who are equipped to provide you with guidance on this particular topic.

  • Engage a group of five or less, ideally an odd number of people so that you have a built-in tiebreaker if you need it.

  • Now that you've made your choice, one last challenge remains.

  • You have to commit.

  • I can't promise you that you'll ever truly know if you've made the perfect decision, but I can tell you this: a significant percentage of people in the world will never have to worry about FOBO.

  • Unlike the billions of people who have few options, if any, due to war, poverty or illness, you have plentiful opportunities to live decisively.

  • You may not get everything you want, but the mere fact you get to decide is powerful.

  • In fact, it's a gift.

  • Make the most of it.

[TED: Ideas worth spreading.]

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How to make faster decisions | The Way We Work, a TED series

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    Seraya posted on 2020/03/25
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