Career decision

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
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
Process & Content in Two cognitive Systems
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
We’re Lawyers, Not Scientists
• We hold the belief we want to believe
• Then recruit anything we can to support it.
• Peter Ditto, UC Irvine
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.
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 question:
• 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 cheap data
– I can just make up 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
• AND 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
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
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
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
So Dude, like, get out in
the world and have some
great experiences!