Nancy, a recent graduate of Fairfield University, came in for a career counseling session as she was suffering from complete information overload. She had studied nearly a dozen different career paths. She noted the advantages and disadvantages of each and how each could or might not be suited to different parts of personality.
Increasingly, part of my career counseling role is to unravel this paradox of choice. That phrase comes from a terrific book by Barry Schwartz regarding the peculiar notion that, while we want a lot of variety, we actually either freeze or make bad choices when we have too much.
In relation to career counseling, many of our clients are waiting for some hypothetical choice that will suit all their needs. They will tell me aspects of different career paths that they want. Some say crazy things like I want the money that investment banker makes yet I want the hours of a teacher’s aide.
As we went through Nancy’s options, 12 choices became 4 very quickly. From there, we narrowed the choices down to 2 that made sense within my happiness-success paradigm. We created pilot programs for Nancy to explore each option. While she has not made her decision yet, she has been released from career confusion.