How To Overcome FOWO – Fear Of Wrong Outcome – In Decision Making

If you’ve been stuck in cycles of indecision, feeling ‘lost’, or unsure, it’s likely that you also suffer with an ailment that plagues your decision making – FOWO – fear of the wrong outcome. FOWO sounds like:

“I’m not sure what’s next for me, and I’m slightly scared to commit to one direction.”

“I think I want to pivot into entrepreneurship, but I’m so unsure and the idea scares me but also excites me.”

“This relationship is totally fine but I’m not sure if it’s forever and the idea of facing that now is scary”

I hear variations of this everyday in my coaching practice; women who come saying they “have no clue” what they want to do next in their career.

If you tend to canvas for opinions, get nervous about decisions, or struggle with self-trust, this one’s for you.

There are like few dynamics at play:

1) Fear clouding any decision or movement (see statements above – all fear).

2) They’re detached from their intuition and can’t hear or distinguish the intuitive guidance.

3) They have more clarity on the answer than they might think, but won’t allow themselves permission to indulge this knowing.

Here’s the thing: Most people perceive decision making to be about data gathering, analysis, external inputs, logic, and strategy. They think that making a good decision is done from the head. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Decision making that feels right, that results in lasting fulfillment and satisfaction ALWAYS starts and ends at the heart and body, not the brain.

The body sends 11 million bits of information per second to the brain for processing. Yet the conscious mind only collects 50 bits per second and processes information at a much slower rate.

Additionally, according to research from the HeartMath Institute, “It is not as commonly known that the heart actually sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends to the heart. Moreover, these heart signals have a significant effect on brain function – influencing emotional processing as well as higher cognitive faculties such as attention, perception, memory, and problem-solving. In other words, not only does the heart respond to the brain, but the brain continuously responds to the heart”.

Additionally, our brains are designed to analyze environments in order to keep us safe. It is constantly working to evaluate threats. It can talk us in or out of 100 different scenarios which is why Pro/Con lists are entirely unreliable.

Therefore, the body and the heart are the keepers of more accurate and reliable information than the brain is.

For example, If there’s an invisible threat, the body will tell me so, not the brain. That’s why when you walk into a room you can feel something’s off, or if there’s an unwelcoming energy. Or that guy you would have swiped left on but who you meet in person and it just feels good. It might not be ‘rational’ in your brain, but you can feel it in your body.

Too often do we rely on the brain when we should be tuning into our bodies, and our hearts, which is where our intuition lies.

So how do you do that?

You can start doing one of my meditations for focusing the brain. This calms the brain down such that you can then listen to your heart.

If the decision is binary or has a few options that are clear, you can bring to mind each possible scenario and notice what that feels like in your body. This is called the Body Compass Exercise. Let’s say the the question is, “Do I start my own company, or go to business school or stay at my current job?”

Start by imagining starting your own company. Allow yourself the freedom to imagine the scenario of starting your own company without the doubts or fears. Does it feel constricting, tight, and clammy, Or more open, free, and energizing?

Move onto Scenario 2 – going to business school – and repeat the same process. How does that feel? More free or less free, and open than Scenario 1?

This is a process called Tuning the Body Compass that I teach and use with my clients around decision making. It was taught to me by my teacher Martha Beck who shares more about this in her books Finding Your Own North Star and Steering By Starlight.

I hope this is a step in giving you permission to trust your body and your hearts knowing. It’s a much more intentional process but it’s certainly faster and thousands of times more effective than ruminating on the FOWO!