First there was FOMO (fear of missing out) and now entering the workplace is FOBO, the fear of better options
What is FOBO? This concept is broader than the workplace, but is something that 68% of workers admit they’ve experienced when making a decision about their career. Moreover, most times experiencing FOBO is accompanied by anxiety, decision paralysis and feeling stressed.
The top five situations where people have said that they feel the fear of better options in the workplace is when they’ve been at a company for a long period of time, when seeking work-life balance, after receiving a job offer, when negotiating a salary and after experiencing major life moments.
The good news is that while it is completely normal to have FOBO, there are ways that you can work through your career paralysis fear and come out ahead.
Be okay with a Mostly Fine Decision (MFD). This MFD technique aims to find a middle ground between going overboard analyzing every single option and making a gut decision. It is impossible to examine every possible option and even those who try usually end up feeling less satisfied because even at the end of their exhaustive analysis they’re still worried a better option is out there. The MFD is the minimum outcome that you’re willing to accept for a decision, it asks you to decide which outcome you would be fine with even if it isn’t the best possible outcome.
Use your network. If you are experiencing career paralysis because you are faced with a professional decision that has overwhelming options, such as receiving a job offer, don’t hesitate to tap into your professional network to get a better lay of the land. You may think that this job offer is one in a million but reaching out to others in your field may help you realize that there are similar openings available regularly. Your network can help offer you a gut check and help you think of other things to consider when faced with an important career decision.
Put a time on it. Allow yourself to worry, analyze, research and do whatever you need to in order to feel comfortable. What you shouldn’t allow yourself to do is be consumed by the options. Decide what a reasonable amount of time is to weigh the options and then stick to it. This may mean that you set aside a chunk of time now to work through it and then tell yourself you will come back to it for a certain number of minutes in two days and then make a decision at that point. What a reasonable amount of time is will vary by the kind of decision you’re making, deciding where to go for dinner may not take 5 minutes but you may want to give yourself 30+ minutes when thinking about negotiating your salary. The point in setting a time for it is to allow yourself enough time to feel like you’ve done your homework but it doesn’t allow your mind free reign to go down a never-ending path of worry.
Be mindful. If you notice your brain starting to slip back to being flooded by options don’t beat yourself up over it. Notice what you’re doing, acknowledge it and then refocus your energy. Learning how to be mindful without creating any guilt or shame will help reduce the stress and decision paralysis of FOBO and is a skill that will serve you well throughout multiple areas of your life.