Whether you’re faced with a life-changing decision, are planning a big trip, or simply need to decide what to have for dinner, you might think adopting an analytical attitude is the best way to tackle the task at hand and avoid unnecessary procrastination.
As such, we often turn to pros-and-cons lists to aid the process, something we have done for centuries.
In fact, it’s believed that as far back as 1772, Benjamin Franklin advised scientist Joseph Priestley to divide a sheet of paper into two columns, writing pro on one side and con on the other to help him make a decision. And if it’s good enough for one of the Founding Fathers…
But could you be setting yourself up for failure by taking such a linear approach when it comes to your future career?
While you might think weighing up every element of a job is the most practical way to decide if you should take it or not, you could be unfairly weighing some aspects, based on your own unconscious bias.
While health insurance and parental leave might appeal to someone who is further on in their career, a new graduate who is potentially on their parent’s health insurance plan (and hasn’t even contemplated having a family) might not see how this points to company values, and can be interpreted as a pro.
Similarly, in-office pool tables and unlimited snacks might seem great on paper. But it could hint at a culture of micromanagement that prefers workers to be in close proximity to their managers so they can keep a close eye on their productivity. This might lead candidates to unfairly dismiss some potential employers without taking the wider context into consideration.
Lack of foresight
When it comes to writing things down in pros and cons columns, people tend to focus on the here and now, and frame facts in the context of the present instead of envisaging how they could impact your life in the future.
As mentioned above, honing in on things that matter now will serve you well in the short term––but following a decision-making format that doesn’t look at the bigger picture, such as a pros-and-cons list, can often detract from other important elements that should be factored in.
We’re often led to believe that emotion in the workplace is a bad thing but by being too clinical and removing emotion from the equation, this could mean we’re ignoring our gut intuition. Often described as our sixth sense, gut feelings or a hunch can help strengthen our decision-making.
According to leading psychologist Dr. Elaine Aron, highly sensitive people make better decisions and perform better than their peers who don’t have high levels of emotional intelligence. This is backed up by data from Georgetown University: researchers were able to uncover how people with higher emotional intelligence are better able to manage their bodies’ stress response, and ultimately make better decisions based on the facts in front of them.
Holistic decision-making is an alternative approach that asks you to look at how your actions will impact your broader goals. Originally devised as a farming framework by permaculturist Dan Palmer, holistic decision-making forces you to look at how something or someone will impact both your professional and personal life.
It asks you to identify the various elements you need to do in order to achieve your goal. It also forces you to monitor your decisions on an ongoing basis to ensure you’re not deviating from your original aims.
So if you’re ready to put your knowledge to the test, accelerate your career prospects and secure your next internship or entry-level role, The GradCafe Job Board has hundreds of opportunities across the country in companies that are actively hiring.