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

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Added by Mel in Variety


In a world of endless reviews and options, it's easy to become paralyzed by indecision. Investor and writer Patrick McGinnis shares the dangers of "FOBO" -- the fear of better options -- and how to overcome it.






Video Script::

Translator: TED Translators admin
Reviewer: Krystian Aparta You're probably familiar with FOMO. [This guy invented the term] That's short for "Fear Of Missing Out." It's that feeling you get when it seems everyone else
is doing something better than what you're doing 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." [The Way We Work] 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 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. 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 forget
about them in a few weeks. Here, you can also
outsource decision-making, but 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.


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