Archive for September, 2011
A few weeks ago I wrote about regulatory focus theory (approach and avoidance motivations) and its possible impact on your career satisfaction.
To summarise quickly: approach or promotion focus is about trying to achieve positive outcomes, whereas avoidance or prevention focus is about trying to preclude negative outcomes.
Different types of goals and situations can induce either prevention or promotion focus. Benign environments tend to lead to promotion focus because people feel more inclined to take risks, whereas threatening environments tend to encourage prevention focus so that they are less likely to make damaging mistakes.
Having said that, most people will have a default approach they take to new situations. Generally, people feel more motivated about their goals if they can pursue them in a manner which fits with their regulatory focus. So, promotion-oriented individuals will feel more engaged if they are allowed to pursue goals in a positive, eager manner and prevention-oriented individuals feel better if they are allowed to be careful and vigilant.
A recent study by Righetti et al. (2011) looked at how the regulatory focus of someone trying to achieve a goal was affected by the focus of someone who was advising or supporting them.
Rachel Mulvey’s post last week on the existential nature of continuing professional development has turned my thoughts once again to the concept of meaningfulness.
Partly inspired by Rachel’s idea, I have been writing an article for the Journal of the National Institute for Career Education and Counselling on the use of narrative techniques in reflective practice for guidance practitioners (I know, exciting stuff, huh?). As part of my research for this piece I came across an article by W.D. Joske on ‘Philosophy and the meaning of life’. Unlike many of the philosophy articles I’ve tried (and failed) to get to grips with, this was actually quite readable because Joske demonstrates a subtle, dry sense of humour in his writing.
…many people are afraid of philosophy precisely because they dread being forced to the horrifying conclusion that life is meaningless, so that human activities are ultimately insignificant, absurd and inconsequential
The world is neutral and cannot give meaning to men, If someone wants life to be meaningful he cannot discover that meaning but must provide it himself. How we go about giving meaning to life seems to depend upon the society we accept as our own; a Frenchman might leap into the dark, an American go to a psycho-analyst, and an Englishman cease asking embarrassing questions.
As well as being amusing, Joske is quite analytical and, in his attempt to explore meaning, he breaks down the meaninglessness of activities into four essential elements: worthlessness, pointlessness, triviality and futility.
A few months ago I delivered a keynote address on continuing professional development as part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Seminar Series entitled Re-framing Service Delivery, Professional Practices and Professional Identities in UK Careers Work. At heart, these seminars bring people together (across professional disciplines) to share ideas about aspects of career work. There are two more still to come, the next is scheduled for November 2011 in Glasgow at the University of the West of Scotland.
Every now and again during interview coaching, I will stop and ask the client, “What do you think I’m looking for with that question?”. Having read an article by some organisational psychologists at the University of Zurich (Kleinmann et al., 2011), I’m going to ask that question a lot more.