Decision Making

Things to do
while you’re waiting for luck
Thomas S. Krieshok
University of Kansas
Key Points:
• The human brain is not designed for happiness
• When we try to predict what will make us happy,
we make errors
• Implications of this for career counseling
Members of the A (Adaptability)
Team over the years:
Chris Ebberwein
Mike Black
Robyn McKay
Rich Scott
Melanie Noble
Selby Conrad
Shawn Bubany
Brian Cole
John Jacobson
Craig Beeson
Kate Sirridge
Kristin Rasmussen
Maggie Syme
Sarah Brown
Mary Krogmann
Matt Robinson
Dan Cox
Eric Lyche
Jeff Rettew
Rhea Owens
Thomas Motl
Abby Bjornsen
Wendy Shoemaker
Matt Davis
Carrissa Huffman
Kirsten Wells
Michael Rosen
Benjamin Rutt
Alex Vuyk
Aaron Gates
Brittany Stewart
Erik Clarke
Craig Warlick
Marlon Beach
Michael Ternes
Jamie Kratky
The readiness is all.
Consider happiness
• “The word happiness exists in every
language; it is plausible the thing itself
exists.” Jorge Luis Borges
• How might the research on happiness
inform aspects of career counseling
Consider happiness
• We want that which we believe will make us happy
• We set about getting that
• But often end up less happy than we imagined
Not designed for happiness
• Humans not designed for Happiness,
but Survival and Reproduction
• We always want just a bit more
wealth, privilege, beauty, and youth
• Precursors to survival and reproductive
• The Hedonic Treadmill
Not designed for happiness
• The human mind as an experience simulator
• We are not so adept at predicting the
intensity and duration of our future
emotional reactions
• Affective Forecasting (Wilson & Gilbert)
Side Effects of human design
• 1. We overestimate our ability to get things
done in the future
• 2. We underestimate our resourcefulness for
dealing with obstacles
• 3. Consciousness only sees a movie about
Side Effects of human design
• Leads to Miswanting
• We think something will make us happier
than it does
...and based on faulty assumptions,
• We avoid things we expect will be difficult
Side Effects of human design
• So we want things we won't end up liking
• And we resist wanting things we would end
up liking
Doing better but feeling worse
(Iyengar, Wells, & Schwartz)
• College seniors: Maximizers vs. Satisficers
• Perceived value of possible outcomes
influenced by:
– Mis-predicted expectations during the decision
– Affect experienced during the decision process
– Social values
Doing better but feeling worse
(Iyengar, Wells, & Schwartz)
• Even when they get what they want
• Maximizers may not want what they get
Human Design Issues
• The brain is part of the problem
• Areas for Wanting ≠ Areas for Liking
Human Design Issues
• Amalgam of brain systems
• Cobbled together over time
• To adapt to evolving environmental
System 1 and System 2
• System 1: Intuitive, non-conscious mind
-related to “older” functions of the brain
• System 2: Rational, often conscious mind
-related to “newer” functions of the brain
-especially language
System 1 and System 2
• The Elephant and the Rider (Haidt)
– The elephant - System 1
• (Bargh’s ‘Wise Unconscious’)
• Makes most day to day decisions
– The rider - System 2
Has some input, but not as much as we think
Acts as an Interpreter Module (Gazzaniga)
Fabricates reasons for behavior
Makes errors in guessing those reasons
Wanting vs. Liking
• Liking depends more on System 1 and
• Wanting depends more on System 2
– Influenced by socialization, gender
proscriptions, ...
– Subject to heuristics and errors
Wanting vs. Liking
• What do I want? is really:
What would somebody like me want?
What would/should somebody with my
identity/self concept want?
• But identity is a socially constructed entity
• My story is ABOUT reality, not reality itself
The heart has its reasons, that
reason knows not of.
There’s someone in my
head, but it’s not me.
Pink Floyd
Wanting ≠ Liking
• Implications for career counseling
• A particular issue for the matching model
Matching Model
• Self-knowledge
– What do you want in your work?
• World of work knowledge
– What's out there?
• True reasoning
– Match the first to the second
• Match me to work that will bring me
Matching Model
• What I really need to match to:
– Is not what I WANT
– But what I'd LIKE
Matching Model
• A better quesion:
• What kind of work will give me what I Like?
• Figure out what you Like
• & Plan with that knowledge
Wanting is cheap
Liking is expensive
• Wanting is easy: I can tell you what I want
• Liking is expensive data
– I have to develop a history of likes across
Knowing my Likes
• Thomas Motl: Teasing out wanting & liking
• Beforehand: Do you think you will like it?
• While you are doing it: Do you like it?
• Tomorrow: Did you like it?
• Ask me on an interest inventory:
– "Is this something you like?"
Knowing my Likes
• System 1: You have to put yourself in places
where you have the opportunity
To Like or To Not Like
• System 2: You have to pay attention to what
• You have to know that System 2 is subject to
errors and distortions
Trilateral Model of Adaptive CDM
System 2,
Rational System,
Reflective System.
System 1,
Experiential System,
Reflexive System.
Activities that increase
one’s fund of
and experience.
The Case for Engagement
• “… taking part in behaviors that contribute
to the career decision-maker’s fund of
information and experience.”
• Makes both Rational & Intuitive tools more
informed and less naive
The Case for Engagement
Implications for Career Counseling
• Career Counseling clients need convincing
about all of this
• Hard Sells
– Invest time and energy in learning your Likes
– Move out of your comfort zone
– Recognize your mind is something of a parasite
Implications for Career Counseling
• Integrate well-researched counseling
interventions that address behavior change
Implications for Career Counseling
• Stages of change
– I need to do the work to learn my likes
– Where am I in that process?
Implications for Career Counseling
• Motivational Interviewing
– I'm ambivalent about engaging in that hard work
Implications for Career Counseling
• Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
– My thoughts (System 2) are subject to all
manner of social influence
– My thoughts are not reality
– My thoughts have an agenda of their own,
often not the same as my agenda for my life
Takeaway message
• Happiness research tells us:
– Knowing what you like is hard
– That makes matching more complicated
– Career counselors can use behavior change tools
to encourage engagement
An Extremist Position
• Three frightening things about the way we
have traditionally thought about decision
Radical Argument 1:
• You don’t get to keep your decision anyway.
• Even if there was a time when matching did work,
today’s world of work is so turbulent that we can no
longer count on keeping our match.
Radical Argument 2:
• We can’t help you choose rationally, because
that’s not how people make choices
Ridiculous Argument 3:
Opportunity Costs
• The matching model implies more control
than you really have, and distracts you from
doing that which you should really be doing
Radical Argument 2:
Soelberg’s 1967 study with MIT grads
• We identify a ‘favorite’ early on
• We engage in an ‘exercise in prejudice’ to ensure
our favorite wins
• We only commit once we have an adequate
Mark Twain:
• It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into
• It’s what you know for sure that ain’t so that
gets you into trouble.
Examples of Occupational Engagement
Studying abroad
Being involved in organizations
Talking to anyone at anytime about anything
Job shadowing
Reading a section of the newspaper you normally don’t
Anti-Engagement Messages
Students Hear
 Choose a major by the time you have 45 credit hours
 You already have a good paying summer job,
 don’t take an internship that pays less
 Study Abroad will only extend your time in college
 Your school work is your job,
 So don’t volunteer or get a part time job.
 Go take that test, it will tell you what to do.
 All you can do with a history degree is teach
 The most important thing is your grades
Our firmest conclusion:
• Be Engaged!!!
– Better chance your intuition will be expert
• Be prepared! (always be engaged)
– Ebberwein’s study of laid off workers
Ridiculous Argument 3:
Opportunity Costs
• The matching model implies more control
than you really have, and distracts you from
doing that which you should really be doing
Chaos in the world of work
• Science lets us predict on a grand scale
– Can predict 10% unemployment
• Not so much at the elemental level
– Which workers will lose their jobs
– Which businesses or industries will survive
Understanding & Believing in chaos is important
• Make your job loss less personal
• Make your job search less trusting in a fair
system of job hunting
Getting a job is ALWAYS a matter of
being in a right place at the right time.
• -There are NO exceptions to this rule
• -In spite of how it looks
– or what others try to tell you
Drat that chaos!
• Wisdom and science tell us:
Vision and Planning fare better.
• But what of those who fail with a plan
– or succeed without?
• Getting a job is always a matter of being in the right
place at the right time.
Need to accept the limited amount of
order in the World of Work
• learn to adapt on the fly
• capitalize on idiosyncratic events
• let go of our demand that the world be
completely ordered
• and soften our rigid hold on reality
Chinese proverb
• To be uncertain is uncomfortable,
• But to be certain is ridiculous.
On being human
• Things change
– We adapt
– We survive
On being human
• Things are changing on a massive scale
– We are adapting, but at a human pace
• If we fail to adapt, we risk negative
– personally, nationally, globally
But adaptability is limited
• As humans, we require predictability for
– And predictability yearns for stability
– Language tends to create patterns of
predictability, even when they aren’t there
• I’ll take the devil I know vs. the devil I don’t
Ideal vs. Real
• Ideal starting point: Adaptable, Wise, Smart
• Real starting point: Real humans, with
modular brains, language bound, chaos
• Ideal environment: Savannah
• Real environment: Chaos
Leads to several dialectics
Dialectic #1: Decidedness
 Decidedness feels better than undecidedness:
so work to get decided
 Decidedness cannot be forced. If it happens,
so be it; if not, you have to leave it alone. And
it might never come.
Dialectic #2: Planning
 Having a good plan is essential
 It’s always a matter of being in the right place
at the right time.
Dialectic #3: Flow
 Our STORY about work is that it’s a drudgery.
 The reality is that we are in flow when we are
at work more so than in any other role.
Dialectic #4: The Zen of Career
 Act as though every moment is absolutely
critical to your career success
 Laugh at the idea that career success is
important at all.
Dialectic #5:
Commitment within Relativism
 Be out front with a passionate plan
 Wake up every day to the possibility that today
might be the day you receive your next calling.
Planned Happenstance
John Krumboltz
• Combines planfulness with an
appreciation for happenstance
– How might we exploit chaos in a positive way?
– How might we learn to embrace situations?
– Can we create such situations?
Planned Happenstance Take-home
• Reinforce the role of chaos in the world of
• Identify past experiences of happenstance
• Encourage creativity in planning for
A Proposed NEW Biggest Problem:
– Developing an Adaptive relationship to the
Adaptability in the marketplace
• Ability to move about in…
• Transition into and out of…
• Accurately appraise one’s strengths and weaknesses
as a player in the marketplace
• Not one’s abilities as a worker per se
Adaptability as the new
GOLD Standard
• From Match-Making to Meaning-Making.
• Development is continually adapting to a
changing environment
– RATHER THAN an internal impetus to maturation
Things to do
while you’re waiting for luck
• 1. Being a great student and worker is not enough
– We need to be adaptive agents
– With a healthy relationship to the marketplace.
• 2. Avoid choosing until you have developed your expertise
– Differentiate Decidedness from Commitment
• 3. Don’t always trust what your thoughts are telling you.
– Your thoughts are not your friends.
– Rational explanations may be driven by other agendas
Things to do
while you’re waiting for luck
• 4. Feed your intuition
Engage your 11,000,000 bit processor
Instead of your 20 bit processor
• 5. Consult with trusted others, especially on your strengths
• 6. Don’t spend too much time in self assessment
Things to do
while you’re waiting for luck
• 7. Most of all, ENGAGE
– Set yourself up for planned happenstance
• 8. Once (re)employed, STAY engaged
• 9. Choose Action over Decision (Savickas)
• 10. Lead a value-driven life
– Instead of a quest for a pain-free life
To summarize:
• 1. Feed your intuition
• 2. Avoid choosing until you have developed your expertise
• 3. Don’t always trust what your thoughts are telling you.
– Rational explanations may be driven by other agendas
To summarize more
• 4. Consult with trusted others, especially on
your strengths
• 5. Don’t spend too much time in self
• 6. Most of all, ENGAGE
– Set yourself up for planned happenstance
To summarize one last time
• 7. Once (re)employed, STAY engaged
– Check the smoke alarms once a month, rather
than once a year (Rich Scott)
So Dude, like, get out in
the world and have some
great experiences!
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