Sunday, February 28, 2016

Indecision and FOMO

I go to water aerobics class with my mom every week and laugh enough in this one hour span to tide me over through several grumpy days with my kids, if needed. Here's a peek at the fun:

Yes, we have to wear those life preserver belts.
Because of all the laughing, of course.

And yes, I will take down this picture of Mom.
If she makes me. But it does make me smile (you too, right? She did synchronized swimming in college, I'm sure you can totally tell--you rock Lucie!)

Anyway, in addition to discussions in the pool and actual exercise there's a lot of locker room chatter. You don't get that so much when you're my age. Locker rooms at the gym are very quiet, and at the Y they are raucous with screaming children.

But as someone who spends most of her time at home writing and taking care of kids I get a mega-dose of girltalk in this hour because all the women know each other, or are getting to know each other. The groups leader Therese is hilarious (though also a rather severe drill sergeant) and how can you not be happy when you're doing underwater jumping jacks and getting sucked under because you can't coordinate the movement to keep your head in the air. Fabulous stuff, my mom's brilliant for signing us up for this nuttiness.

So after class this week I was trying to jam my wet body into dry clothes and on the periphery of a conversation about how much time older women (retired or working part-time) are willing to give their children for babysitting of grandchildren. While there was some talk of school and summer vacations, and of three week visits (June went this month to New Zealand!) to help with newborns, the real rubber-meets-the-road conversation was about whether you would care for a grandbaby weekly to help your child with daycare costs, and if so how much time would you offer?

How about it? What would you do?
Emerson lays it out for us
(nice image from Quotefancy.com)

The going offer seems to be one day a week. That's the amount of time most women look forward to without getting overtired or feeling taken advantage of. And you have to be ready for the discussion. Despite the nine month warning and then the six weeks or six months of maternity leave, the conversations can sneak up on you.

One woman said a co-worker recently retired, and by happenstance her daughter had a baby at the same time. And The Conversation came up before the woman retired, and before the baby was born, because the parents had to get on a daycare waiting list for a slot. When it did, she said she wasn't ready to commit to a regular babysitting gig. She'd be willing to help out and thought she could do one day but needed to get her bearings and see what her schedule looked like once she retired. Without a set day they could skip, the parents took a full-time slot.

Then the grandmother was upset. Once the baby came she wanted that time alone with her. But any day the baby didn't attend the parents still had to pay for. The grandmother offered a set day at that point but the center said the parents would have to wait for a part-time slot to match, which might not happen. And the grandmother was hurt that she wouldn't have as close a relationship with the child as a result.

From five-part series on FOMO and personal values.
Complete with a QUIZ!
What is this? Indecision and FOMO x 2.

Because you miss out on more by not making a decision than by making the wrong one.

As the story was told, the friend kept saying "she couldn't commit. She couldn't commit. And this is what happens. You lose out."

The whole reason the grandmother couldn't commit was because of the Fear Of Missing Out on something wonderful retirement would offer. Then she retired and realized the child was that "something wonderful" and feared she'd miss out if they weren't alone together every week.

FOMO never goes away. It's always on your shoulder, ready to steal your fun. When you commit to one course of action, yes, you rule out others and if you can't make peace with that quickly then your life will be ruled by indecision, frustration and regrets.

There are a lot of decisions to be made, and the choices overwhelming. Big (when to marry or have children), Medium (where to vacation and with whom) and Small (what to eat and watch), they keep coming at you and the process of weighing your options can lead to a paralysis in decision-making (see articles here from Scientific American, The Economist, The New York Times and Psychology Today, and a counterargument--of course--from The Atlantic).

The research in general says that people are happier with their decision when they choose from a smaller group of options but the results are mixed because all decisions are not equal. Regret over not buying lunch out cannot be equated with one involving who you chose as a life partner, or whether you skip having children.

For those Big Decisions the only solution is to know what's most important to you in vivid technicolor and chose from your gut based on that. Need help? Read these on choices involving love, travel and life.

Or since it's halfway between Valentine's and St. Patrick's Day, use the Irish version of Stephen Covey's Big Rocks  metaphor shared by my good friend Judy.



Slainte and Love, Lisa

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