Four pitfalls that prevent you from making a career change. And what approach should you take.
A recent Microsoft study of 30,000 people showed that after several years of a pandemic, 46% of workers are thinking about how to change their activities radically. For many, this means not just finding a new position but completely changing the field of activity. But in practice, only a few manage to achieve the goal.
The hardest part many pros get stuck in is just getting started. The article is about the traps that hold us back and how to deal with them.
The test Menteora will help you get off the ground. He will tell you in which direction to change.
Significant change is challenging for senior leaders: a leader’s identity is tied to their job, and change means some life decisions must be rethought and alternative paths must be considered. And while a leader may have experience in strategic planning and change at the organizational level, reinvention at the personal level is separate from the business school curriculum.
The habits that determine leaders’ success prevent them from changing on a personal level. Heather Cairns-Lee, Associate Professor at IMD (Lausanne, Switzerland) and former President of Business Professional Women Lake Geneva, and Bill Fisher, Innovation Management Lecturer at IMD, shared tips on identifying obstacles and starting the path to personal transformation.
Leaders take pride in their independence. They rely on their input, work well alone, and rarely need outside motivation or guidance. It is these qualities that bring them managerial positions.
However, self-sufficiency also has a downside. It can limit connections with others and reduce access to new ideas, feedback, and inspiration. Sometimes the manager hides doubts and insecurities behind this habit.
To overcome this trap, self-sufficient people need outside help. But it takes courage to ask for it.
If you find asking for or accepting help complex, this may signify the self-sufficiency life trap. Find someone you trust and tell them you need to discuss change.
Former GE CEO Jack Welch used this in “reverse mentoring,” where older executives approached younger employees to improve their digital literacy.
Analytical skills are essential to solve problems and to lead in difficult situations. However, when contemplating drastic changes, it is easy to get caught up in reflection before even a single step is taken.
The self-digging trap occurs when a person becomes accustomed to relying on analysis and logic to solve problems, ignoring other ways of knowing — emotional, intuitive, visual, or practical.
As a result, the manager needs to catch up on signals from these sources and learn from experiments. However, the path to change on a personal level cannot be planned. If you find yourself frequently saying, “I need to think first,” you are probably prone to introspection. Instead, try to turn to other data sources — emotional and intuitive — and experiment.
Desire to find the correct answer
Since the school article, we have been accustomed to believing the answers are correct. Life and career changes come with too much uncertainty. Leaders who confidently answer questions in their current position are suddenly silenced.
If you keep finding yourself wanting to make the right choice, it may be a sign that you need more time to be ready to experiment or put up with mistakes on the way to new knowledge and growth. It’s always good to ask yourself what options you have.
The easiest way to refuse life changes is to remember urgent work. Successful leaders are rewarded with more responsibility, which means they have less time to focus on long-term plans.
Limited bandwidth can also fuel anxiety: it’s hard to imagine a future when today’s needs are real.
Many people have put off change. We’re waiting for insight. Psychology teaches us to procrastinate. Personal changes fit all the boxes.
If you tend to procrastinate, consider why you procrastinate on essential life decisions. Why are you prioritizing other things? Be inspired by the slogan “Just do it” (Do it). Remember, making major career and life changes is a multi-step process. Therefore, even a small first step will be more beneficial than a well-thought-out but never tested idea.
All these traps have one thing in common — they are not bad habits in and of themselves. On the contrary, leaders who follow these strategies succeed. However, all this can prevent them from seeing new opportunities.
Take the test Menteora, and you will see new opportunities to change your career and life for the better.
20 cognitive biases that prevent you from making good decisions
Human thinking is imperfect: we often make systematic errors that affect reasoning and conclusions. Cognitive distortions cannot be eliminated, but they can be considered. Let’s see how they work.
Fundamental attribution error
We tend to attribute other people’s actions to their character (rather than the situation or context). In doing so, we explain our actions by the situation or context, not by our character. Therefore, people tend to shift responsibility to others.
Man is a social being. This property has not only helped us to achieve prosperity but also has a particular disadvantage. The opinions of others highly influence our words, actions, or beliefs.
The herd effect resembles groupthink.
People tend to exaggerate everything connected with their person. For example, our contribution to the project is often much more significant during group work than others.
We value ourselves very highly (see egocentric distortion) while considering our view of the world objective.
Therefore, if someone disagrees with us, he is uneducated, does not have information, or is influenced by cognitive distortions.
It is worth learning about something new, and we seem to meet it everywhere. The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is explained by the fact that increased attention to the phenomenon creates the illusion that it appears more often.
High expectations lead to high performance (and vice versa).
Those with high expectations are more likely to adopt this belief and perform better. This cognitive bias is beneficial for leaders to be aware of.
People tend to see and interpret information in a way that confirms their beliefs.
Does the new data support the idea? Perfect hit!
Do new data refute it? There must be some mistake in them.
It’s a widespread and very harmful phenomenon.
This is a more dangerous version of confirmation bias. If a person is presented with evidence that contradicts his position, he only strengthens his opinion.
An anchor is a reference point, usually the first piece of information a person has received on a topic. A person builds all subsequent thoughts and decisions based on this anchor.
The existence of this effect has been proven over and over again by scientists and used car dealers.
People with insufficient knowledge of some skills tend to overestimate their capabilities. It is challenging to determine one’s competence objectively.
Ben Franklin effect
“The one who once did you well will help you gain than the one whom you helped,” said one of the American founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin. Thus, by helping someone, we strengthen our objective perception.
Fear of loss
This distortion was formulated by famous scientists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman for the first time. Fear of loss means that the pain of losing something is greater than the pleasure of owning it.
Generally, people will put more effort into avoiding loss rather than gaining something.
If something belongs to us, we do not want to give it up. People will demand more than they would be willing to pay to give up an object to acquire it.
People evaluate the situation based on the most available data in their memory.
This is how the news cycle affects our thinking. The constant flow of negative information reinforces the belief that the world is unfair.
The winners write history.
Focusing only on the “survivors” and systematically ignoring everyone else distorts the conclusions. We often overestimate our chances of success because we only read success stories.
We consider objects that we have created or assembled much more valuable, regardless of the quality of the final product.
Working on something, we put a particle of ourselves into the object. Thus, its value grows in our eyes.
Tendency to belated judgments
People often think past events are more predictable than they are. We are looking at the past we already know. But we do not feel how hindsight affects our judgments. It can significantly distort our memories.
Plan continuation bias
We love plans. Even if they get frustrated (or already out of place in the current situation), we tend to keep working on them.
The desire to always stick to a given plan is only sometimes valid.
By nature, it is difficult for us to estimate probabilities.
The Gambler’s Fallacy tells us that we tend to believe that past events determine the outcome of the future (even when they don’t).
Curse of Knowledge
Experts (in a broad sense — educated people) often mistakenly assume that others have the same experience and knowledge as they do.
Because of this, they can only effectively train or lead if subordinates have enough knowledge.
Cognitive biases affect how we think and make decisions daily. Knowing how they work, we can more objectively assess what is happening.
The test Menteora will help you understand which of the 20 cognitive biases prevents you from making good decisions.
Five approaches to decision making and how to get the best out of them
When faced with a difficult choice, we behave differently: some prefer to study the problem, while others rely on intuition and do not spend time thinking. In any case, we apply the standard approach to different situations.
However, finding high-quality ideas and seeing the big picture makes it easier in the material — about approaches to decision-making, disadvantages, and advantages.
First of all, identify your strengths and blind spots. What mental errors and cognitive biases are holding you back? It will allow you to see the whole situation and ensure that the decision considers all factors.
What do you do when making an important but challenging decision? Looking for advice? Looking for information? Asking friends or colleagues? Do you rely on intuition? By understanding what you pay attention to, you can understand why decisions are made a certain way — and how you can improve your approach to thinking outside the box.
Cheryl Strauss Einhorn is Decisive's writer, founder, and CEO, providing advice to individuals, businesses, and NGOs. She identifies five archetypes depending on how they make decisions.
Seeker of adventures. Makes decisions quickly and trusts intuition. He would do what seemed right in a difficult situation. He knows who he is and what he needs.
Detective. Values information and is always looking for facts and data. He does not trust sensations — he needs confirmation. He believes that the more he learns and dives into the details, the better.
Listener. In his life, he has a massive number of people he trusts. He relies on their advice and opinion when faced with a difficult situation. He is comfortable knowing he does not need to decide independently.
Thinker. He quickly suppresses the urge to make a quick decision, carefully weighs the options, and tries to evaluate each option’s advantages and disadvantages. He doesn’t need a lot of data. The main thing is to have enough time and space for reflection to feel that his choice is rational. It’s not the speed that matters. It’s the process. Visionary. Conventional solutions do not suit him, and he prefers to act his way.
If he chooses several solutions, he is more interested in finding another — preferably something that did not occur to others. He likes to surprise others with his decisions. Most of us can combine these approaches, but one of them will dominate. By identifying your decision-making style, you can determine how to get the most out of it.
Cognitive biases and the process of problem-solving
Undoubtedly, each archetype has its advantages — but disadvantages inevitably accompany them. Let’s consider what cognitive distortions they are characterized by.
Seeker of adventures
The optimism bias makes you feel unstoppable, which can be dangerous. Quickly making decisions and looking positively at everything, he does not constantly soberly assess the deadlines. It leads to scheduling bias and the risk of running behind schedule before finishing anything.
Solution: pay attention to the first impulse. What does intuition say? What has been the result of this decision in the past? It might be better to take a different approach now. It is equally helpful to consult with other interested parties. However, it is vital to be aware of their goals and guidelines. Also, take into account any possible concerns about timing.
He may need to catch the big picture and solve the wrong problem (or only part) by focusing on a particular one. The abundance of information only sometimes helps to get closer to the exit — sometimes, it distracts from it.
It is also easy for the detective to fall prey to confirmation bias: he only pays attention to data that supports his chosen hypothesis.
Solution: listen to other opinions. Information is not only data but also surroundings. Communicate with other sources, and use the experience and knowledge of colleagues.
It is common for this archetype to rely too much on the decisions of others — be it relatives, friends, or colleagues. He falls prey to the bias of authority and is susceptible to the opinions of those of higher status.
Loyalty causes decisions to be made based on liking someone or something. However, other people’s opinions are only sometimes correct.
Solution: Recognize the value of your voice. Before consulting with others, determine which of the consequences of this decision will be necessary to you. Only then can you listen to other people’s thoughts and reasoning. Pay attention not only to opinions but also their diversity — it may be worth looking for someone with an alternative point of view.
This archetype is very cautious and is characterized by loss aversion. He will prefer the safe solution to the best one. And because he likes to compare and weigh the possibilities between himself, cognitive bias can prevent him from seeing the world objectively.
Solution: Don’t let yourself get hung up. Your time is precious. Set a deadline by which you need to make a decision so you know how much time to spend thinking.
In team and individual settings, it is handy for thinkers to determine the desired result and solve the problem from the opposite. This makes it easier for them to focus and interact with colleagues.
He is attracted to ideas and easily impresses the brightest or boldest solutions, even if they are sometimes the best. He also has a scarcity bias: he overestimates originality and tends to act differently than everyone else rather than looking for an intelligent solution.
Solution: Recognize that conventional approaches can be valuable. Share your original ideas with others to understand which ones are right now and which are better to wait in the wings. Ask for feedback. The answers of colleagues will help to be more objective.
There are many approaches to decision-making. Although the solutions we are used to seeing are successful in some situations, combining different ways of thinking is the most effective.
Try to take a non-standard approach for yourself — this will allow you to notice your cognitive distortions and see the whole picture. And although this can be difficult, it is worth remembering that by developing the flexibility and strength of thinking, we can make the right decisions in the most critical issues.
Take the test Menteora to find out exactly how you make decisions.