We’ve all heard of F.O.M.O, which is a clever acronym and short form for ‘Fear Of Missing Out.’
Property investors that suffer from FOMO are usually urgently scrambling to buy property – in some cases, any property. And are trying to avoid missing out on the potential for huge gains, most often in a bull market. FOMO, however, can lead to a lack of due diligence, a lack of planning, and a whole lot of costly mistakes.
Just the smell of a new investor suffering from FOMO will make the seasoned property spruiker foam at the mouth. After all, there is nothing more attractive to a property shark than a drop of FOMO blood. (See what I did there?)
That being said, there is a fear that many of my clients suffer from that is much more prevalent than FOMO, and also much more crippling. It is a fear that stops an investor dead in their tracks. A fear that even an experienced investor can suffer from, especially so as we transition into more of a bear market. In fact, it is the complete opposite of FOMO, and as Newton’s third law formally states: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
That reaction is FOBO.
Now before you go into a conniption allow me to answer the million dollar question.
What is FOBO?
Well, FOBO is the reason that you can’t make a decision. It’s also the reason that you have been procrastinating for months, if not years.
FOBO is… a Fear Of Better Options.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
According to The New York Times, the term F.O.B.O, “along with its undoubtedly more ubiquitous cousin, F.O.M.O” was first coined in 2003 by then Harvard Business School student Patrick McGinnis. It has since been re-birthed – and it perfectly labels a specific type of consumer and investor.
Do You Suffer From FOBO?
If you suffer from FOBO then you likely exhibit the following symptoms:
- You have a severe case of analysis paralysis
- You feel overwhelmed by all the information and choices
- You show signs of self-doubt
- You feel like you don’t know who to trust
- The thought of buyer’s remorse creates anxiety
- You get cold feet when you’re on the verge of making a decision
And to make matters worse, despite all your research, all your analysis, all your due diligence, and all the advice you have sought from numerous others — you are now more confused than ever before.
If it does, don’t worry! You’re definitely not alone.
As a property strategist, I have personally coached hundreds of clients to create wealth through property. What I have always found interesting is that the most successful investors are usually not the most analytical or detail-oriented one.
The most successful investors are simply the ones that are the most decisive. The ones that take action! Now, if you are both analytical and decisive then that is the perfect combination. Because that means that you can do your due diligence and analyze the options but you are also able to pull the trigger when you need to.
However, I find it’s usually the analytical thinkers and detail-oriented clients who suffer from FOBO the most. Analytical thinkers are the ones that procrastinate the most and are also the ones that absolutely struggle to make a decision.
They are usually the clients that come prepared to see me with a detailed spreadsheet populated with all sorts of formulas and projections. They project the growth and performance of their investments, ongoing costs, cash flow, net worth, and use a number of formulas to determine their financial position in 20-30 years.
I once saw a 40-50 year projection and was disappointed that it did not include any predictions as to whether or not a man will ever land on the moon again. Yes, I am being facetious, but my point is, you can do all the analysis and due diligence you want, but if you do not have the ability to be decisive and take action, then unfortunately you are really just treading water.
The reason that those that suffer from FOBO struggle to make a decision is because they are in an endless pursuit to find the best option or perfect option.
The Problem is, on this Endless Pursuit, No Option Will Ever Be Good Enough
For most people that suffer from FOBO, not making a decision is much easier than committing to one.
Accordingly, they are trapped in this vicious cycle of analysis, procrastination, and regret — as multiple opportunities pass them by, and more importantly, so does time.
Put it this way, everyone has that one friend or family member that has been single (and looking) for far too long. They have been in an endless pursuit to find the perfect partner for so long now that nobody can meet their unrealistic and unreasonable expectations. They likely have a ‘perfect partner’ checklist that’s 2 pages long and struggle to commit to anyone that does not tick every box.
It sounds like every single episode of ‘Sex and the City’ (notice I used the word ‘single’), and guess what? That is textbook FOBO. It doesn’t work for relationships and certainly doesn’t work for investments — especially with a lack of perspective.
Now, I would never present a problem without providing a solution. And the good news is, there is a solution for overcoming FOBO. There is also a cure to relieve you of its symptoms. And don’t worry it does not involve attending a weekly FA meeting (that is ‘FOBO’s Anonymous’ for the uninitiated).
So, What is the Cure for FOBO?
Well the cure is simple, in fact, you can be cured in 3 easy-to-follow steps:
- Do your research and your due diligence.
- Set a time limit or deadline by which your research and due diligence must be accomplished.
- Be decisive.
Now, I understand that step 3 is easier said than done. But the fact of the matter is, if you suffer from FOBO then you need to acknowledge that you suffer from FOBO. And if you wish to be a successful investor, yet you have the inability to be decisive, then you must engage an expert in the field who can be decisive for you.
Analysis Should Be Accompanied by Decisions
There is certainly a time and place for being analytical. After all, as a property strategist, I analyze millions of data points – my days are spent in the process of due diligence.
Yet, make sure you use your power for analysis sparingly, as much more important than analysis is having the necessary experience that gives you perspective. It is perspective in the industry that enables you to comfortably make an informed decision.
And again, if you don’t have a level of perspective or the inability to be decisive then you should be engaging an expert who can provide some direction.
FOBO is a learned behavior, and as long as you acknowledge the problem, then anything that is learned can certainly be unlearned and transformed.
This article has been reprinted with permission from Ahmad Imam’s Linkedin page.