Archive for category Action

Multifinality constraints – ends and means

Lumber

Lots of ends here

Quite a few of the journal articles I scan in order to generate material for this blog get filed under “Well, duh!”. They usually report studies that have gone to great lengths to prove something that was blindingly obvious to anyone with common sense. To be fair, these studies can be completely valid; they are providing concrete evidence for things we assume to be true. However, they don’t really make for interesting blog posts — ‘Here’s proof of something you knew already’.

The article by Köpetz et al. (2011) could easily fall into that category. The findings are not exactly startling. Here’s the abstract:

In the presence of several objectives, goal conflict may be avoided via multifinal means, which advance all of the active goals at once. Because such means observe multiple constraints, they are fewer in number than the unconstrained means to a single goal. Five experimental studies investigated the process of choosing or generating such means for multiple goals. We found that the simultaneous activation of multiple goals restricted the set of acceptable means to ones that benefitted (or at least, did not harm) the entire set of active goals. Two moderators of this phenomenon were identified: (a) the feasibility of identifying multifinal means, which was dependent on the relations between the different active goals, and (b) the enhanced importance of the focal goal, which resulted in the inhibition of its alternatives and the consequent relaxation of multifinality constraints.

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Non-stop action

Savage Chickens - Action MovieI came across the Contextual Action Theory (CAT) of careers and counselling quite a while ago. It was developed in the 1990s by Richard Young and Ladislav Valach.

When I first read about it, my immediate reaction was ‘I like this. It appeals to my penchant for simple, well-constructed, easy to remember theories’. But there was one problem. I couldn’t for the life of me think how it would be useful.

Actually, that’s not quite true. It was quite obvious that this was a useful theory and that it was already being used… by researchers.

Valach and Young have been using CAT as a framework for investigating individual’s career choices and the career counselling interaction for a number of years.

However, I couldn’t work out how it might be used by career practitioners in their work with clients. As usual, it was lack of imagination on my part, rather than lack of potential in the theory.

Now, I have come up with two ways in which thinking about this theory might enhance my practice.

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Anticipation versus consummation

Sailing and a Key West Sunset by Asten

If you dream it will be plain sailing, you may never set off

In a recent post (What might have been), I discussed a way of looking back to the past called counterfactual thinking. In this post, I would like to start exploring the ways in which we look forward into the future and some of the pitfalls involved in that activity.

Being able to speculate about and imagine the future is an essential part of decision making and it should be an area of interest for anyone involved in supporting other people to make decisions.

However, the way we go about that speculation may have a profound impact on our ability to bring that future into existence.

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Will you read this post? Think about it…

Will he or won't he?

Will he or won't he?

What do you think would motivate people more — getting them to focus on what they are about to do or asking them to think about whether they will do it or not?

When a group of students were given one or the other of these contemplative tasks before facing an anagrams exercise, the ones who had asked themselves whether they would do it completed more anagrams than the group who were just thinking about doing it.

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The danger of goals and power

Archer aiming for the target

How long will it take to hit the target?

Two of the frequent aims of career coaching or counselling are to empower clients and to help them develop amibtious personal goals. Nothing could possibly be wrong with that, you might think.

However, according to studies performed by Mario Weick, from the University of Kent, and Ana Guinote, from University College London, people who experience feelings of power can seriously underestimate how long it will take to achieve their goals.

Weick, M., & Guinote, A. (2010). How Long Will It Take? Power Biases Time Predictions Journal of Experimental Social Psychology DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2010.03.005

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Does it flow?

Flow

Go with it...

Have you ever been… in the zone … in the pipe … in the groove … with your head in the game … on the ball … lost in concentration … in hackmode?

Hearing about the ‘experiencing self’ from the post on Daniel Kahneman’s TED talk, made me think of the concept of Flow developed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi (apparently pronounced Me-high-ee Cheek-sent-me-high-ee). When watching artists and composers as part of his research he would often see them so intent on their work that they were oblivious to the outside world. I can remember that feeling from times in the past when I did a lot of painting. Sometimes I would start soon after I woke up and when I finished it would be dark outside and I’d be stiff, starving and desperate for a pee. I hadn’t noticed anything apart from what I was creating. Read the rest of this entry »

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A New Hope

Hope by Ernesto Lago

How big is your hope

Several years ago I made a New Year’s resolution which I have managed to keep ever since. I resolved never to make a New Year’s resolution again. It makes things a lot simpler and I no longer disappoint myself when inevitably I revert to my old ways after a couple of weeks.

At the New Year many people resolve to do something about their career — get out of that dead end job, find work that is more meaningful, make faster progress, etc. As a result we often see increased interest in our careers consultancy service, C2, in January.

How successful are such career resolutions likely to be and what could give people genuine hope for the future?

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Interesting shorts – recession and resilience

Impact of a recession on beliefs


My! Those are interesting shorts!

How will the recession affect the world-view beliefs of those young people living through it?

A discussion paper from the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in Germany, analyses certain beliefs held by United States citizens and tries to link these beliefs with an individual’s exposure to recessions. They found that people who experienced a recession during a key impressionable age range (18-25 years old) were more likely to believe that success in life was down to luck rather than hard work. They also found that this belief tended to persist throughout the person’s life.

This belief that success in life is beyond your control can lead someone to make less effort, which then makes the belief a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Giuliano, P. & Spilimbergo, A. (2009) Growing Up in a Recession: Beliefs and the Macroeconomy. Institute for the Study of Labour IZA Discussion Paper No. 4365.
  • Should we be working with the students currently at university in order to encourage a belief in the benefits of effort and hard work?
  • Do you think it would be useful to let students know about this research directly?
  • What do you attribute success to?

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Go on! Impress me!

Footprint in the sand

What sort of impression are you making?

Aminder Nijjar’s recent post about Career Image sent me off on a little journey into the world of impression management.

  • How do people try to control or influence the images they present to their work colleagues?
  • To what extent is career success linked to one’s ability to present an acceptable image?

A commonly used list of impression management tactics was produced by Jones and Pitman in 1982. They listed the following tactics:

  • Ingratiation — getting people to like you
  • Self-promotion — telling people how good you are
  • Exemplification — convincing people that you work really hard
  • Supplication — getting people to sympathise with you
  • Intimidation — threatening or appearing dangerous

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How can careers advice be positive in a recession?

lady luck

Is it all a game of chance?

In a world of employment gloom where graduate jobs are on the decline it seems to me the time is ripe to inject a bit of planned happenstance theory into our careers sessions.

Many successful people, when asked about their career, will talk about an element of luck.  But being in the right pace at the right time usually involves taking action to get there.  The person fortunate enough to be offered a job during work experience gets the opportunity not only because they had the initiative to get the experience in the first place but also because they made an impact once through the door.

Planned happenstance is a useful tool for advising in a difficult economic climate, when the R-word hold sway.  First, because it encourages open-mindedness in career planning, rather than searching for a rigid career goal.  Secondly, it promotes positive action regardless of whether this leads to an obvious outcome.

But how does this impact on our work?

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