Fear of missing out has a more anxious sibling and could stop you going to social events – or buying your Christmas turkey. Here’s what is behind fear of better options

Recently, Mike Hall, 48, a management consultant based in Winchester, decided to get ahead with Christmas preparations. “Do I buy the free range bronze turkey for 10-12, or 12-14, even though there are only seven of us for Christmas Day?” he wondered, attempting to tot up all the different variables. “What about leftovers? Should I buy two turkey crowns instead? And which ones?” Such granular decision-making went on and on, until eventually he gave up in exhaustion. He has not yet bought a turkey.

Indecision when the decision is simple, or the options all acceptable, is the defining characteristic of “fear of better options” – or Fobo – a social phenomenon coined by Patrick McGinnis, a US venture capitalist and the man known for coining the term Fomo, or fear of missing out. Fobo can occur everywhere from minor decisions – what to watch on TV, what to eat for dinner – to more significant ones such as whether to take a new job. Whatever the case, a Fobo-afflicted person may find themselves overwhelmed by the possibilities of what might be (some call this “analysis paralysis”) even when no outcome is guaranteed, and when some of those options aren’t even on the table.

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