FOBO is a serious medical disease that, if not treated properly, can cause lasting effects. I’m kidding, but FOBO—or fear of better options—could really be holding you back from living your best life. How do you know if you’re experiencing this condition? Here are some warning signs.
You let comfort control your decisions. When you experience FOBO, it’s very likely that you’re stuck in your comfort zone. You allow comfort to be your deciding factor in all decisions and you filter out any logical reasoning for doing something outside the box. You hold on to what feels good in the now versus what will feel good (and be good for you) in five years. You let superficial desires dictate your emotional and spiritual needs, leaving you at a standstill.
You put up with your sh*tty relationship because you’re afraid of being single. One of the most common cases of FOBO occurs within a relationship. Signs of unhappiness and unhealthy traits may be staring you directly in your face, but you worry you’ll be single forever if you pick up and leave. You start reasoning with yourself and soon accept toxic actions as normal. You begin questioning what life would be like if you were to leave but ultimately decide it’s too late to leave now and you’ll never find better.
You stay in friendships you’ve outgrown. Romantic flings aren’t the only relationships affected by FOBO. Naturally, people grow and change, which means you can outgrow even the strongest of friendships. As you grow, you find people who fit in better with your present life. Once you realize this, you still continue to put up with old, negative friends. Your thought process may sound a little like, “Jen knows me so well and all of our goals align, but I’ve been friends with Sam since middle school so I need to stick with Sam.” This kind of thinking will only stunt your growth and leave you fearing better options.
You settle at a job you hate because it pays the bills. Jobs are a lot like relationships. You become so comfortable and accustomed to your job that you fail to see the dead end it’s leading you toward. Even if you do recognize the signs, you’re scared of quitting because it supports your lifestyle. You put up with the stressful, draining environment because you fear you’ll never find a better job. Although it may be difficult to up and leave, you have to realize there are plenty of better opportunities out there. When signs of FOBO start to creep up, ask yourself, “Is money more important than my happiness?”
You fear your passion will never take you far. You may think to yourself, “Sure, I love cooking, but there’s no way I could ever make a living out of it,” or, “I could make a side job out of it, but this 9 to 5 job will pay better.” Wrong. Some of the richest, happiest people in the world often live by the phrase, “You don’t work a day in your life when you do what you love.” How do you think professional athletes make it to such an elite level? How do you think entrepreneurs lead the biggest companies in the world? It’s because they followed their passion and pushed their fear of better options aside.
You struggle to take that leap of faith. It’s easy to see the potential your future has, but the path to success worries you. You fear if you do take that leap, you’ll fall flat on your face. For a while, you probably will fail more often than not, but picking yourself up and moving forward will always lead you to success. A world of possibilities is an understandable fear when you’re stuck in your comfort zone, but how will you experience better options if you don’t give it a go? The life you have always dreamed off sits just beyond FOBO.
You make excuses to avoid every possible opportunity. We can all think of at least one person who has an excuse for everything. If you can’t think of one person, you probably are that person. Excuses are a coping mechanism that help you feel better about a decision you made. They seem logical at the time, but never once has an excuse led to personal growth. If you don’t believe me, think of the last time you made an excuse and reflect on your outcome. Did you feel good about your decision? Probably. Did you accomplish anything by making that excuse? Probably not. If you suffer from FOBO, it’s probably because you’re full of excuses.
You’re afraid to speak up. Consider a time you kept your mouth shut because you were scared of the end result. You knew what you had to say was important and would possibly even lead to a better outcome, but that wasn’t enough to give voice to your opinions. Your thought process got so caught up with a hypothetical scenario that it ended up holding you back.
You hold unrealistic standards. Standards are a good thing to have, but when they’re too high, they become a burden. When you’re going through some serious FOBO, take a look at the standards you’re holding onto. You may often use phrases such as, “I would never date him, he’s too short,” or “I refuse to work for minimum wage, I’m smarter than that.” Not only are you holding unrealistic standards, but you’re limiting your opportunity for better things.
You’re 100% aware you suffer from FOBO. After reading this, you may think, “Yep, I definitely have a serious case of FOBO!” but don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Your solution simply rests within the title: stop fearing better options. It’s easy to fall into a comfort zone and remain there. The problem with this is that you’ll never grow. Deciding to leave your comfort zone means eliminating excuses, speaking up for yourself, and not fearing the consequences. You can do it.
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