What is FOBO?

 You might have heard of the term - FOMO; "fear of missing out". Let me introduce you to it's cousin FOBO.

FOBO - is Fear of Better Option.

If you are taking too long to decide on buying something, there's a good chance you have a FOBO. You are worried you are committing to something which may not be the best deal.

Have you seen couples looking to buy houses for months and even years sometimes and never coming to a decision? It is likely they are doing this out of FOBO. They fear they are picking something when more and better options may be available in future. It could be because they think, prices may go down or it may be because they think they can get better upgrades at same price..or something similar.

It's the classic "maximization" attitude, called out in Behavioral Economics. When we face too many attractive choices we feel anxious of missing out on the best ones.

It also happens during the Thanksgiving season. Suddenly there's a deluge of "deals" everywhere. In your face. And now you start researching. You know there's no such thing as a deal. No company in the world is saying - 'ya, let me make a loss this year. Let me hand out stuff and make a huge loss.'

The most extraordinary deal is still making profit. Which means you are still paying at or above the product's intrinsic value. Yet you psych yourself to believe you are getting "a deal"

And more importantly if you have a serious FOBO syndrome even that deal you are seeing on your screen may not satisfy you. You may still do more research to find a "better deal"

This can lead you to a rabbit hole, and you may even lose the deal you originally saw.

Another example I can think of is in stock investments. You wait and wait for a great stock. It's either that or you are waiting for the "stock to fall". 

Of course you can and should wait for a good valued stock and never rush into buying anything. But if you wait endlessly, you are probably missing out on even the good ones. And you may end up buying terrible ones out of desperation. 

It is perfectly normal to strive for better options. But when you are obsessed with missing out you will always be in the state of indecision. And that can be a huge drawback..

Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple and a person I greatly admire once said - "I am learning to say "No" to good ideas". What that essentially means is that there are thousands of good ideas but I cannot run after every new good idea. I have to pick one or two and run with it. Instead of keep looking for "good ideas" all the time.

This is so relevant to so many things in the world full of attractive choices.

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