Thursday, May 24, 2018
Business

A backup plan may set your job search up to fail

Landing your dream job is a daunting prospect for anyone. So you might be forgiven for thinking that the smartest thing to do when pursuing an ambitious career is also thinking up a Plan B, in case your Plan A goes wrong. Right?

Making plans is usually thought to be a good thing, and having a backup plan can certainly make you feel less nervous about the future — not to mention keeping you off the street if times get tight. But unfortunately, new research shows that thinking through a back-up plan may have big unintended costs. It appears that merely contemplating options other than success can actually make your goals harder to achieve.

Jihae Shin of the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin and Katherine Milkman of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania carried out a series of studies to investigate how forming a backup plan affected people. The research was inspired by a conversation the two had when Shin was a Ph.D. student of Milkman's at Wharton and was thinking about how to land a job in academia.

Shin found herself believing that she should go all in on academia, because coming up with a more realistic backup plan might actually derail her progress. Then she realized that attitude contrasted with some of the most common popular wisdom about achieving one's goals. It was that contrast that convinced her and Milkman to investigate the effects of having a backup plan.

Shin and Milkman carried out a series of experiments with hundreds of students on campus and people online to test these ideas. In one study, they gave students the task of unscrambling sentences, and told them that those who did well would be given a free snack or allowed to leave the test early. Some of the respondents were then told to come up with other ideas about where they could get free food or make up time later in the day, in case they didn't perform well enough on the test. The other studies similarly offered some people rewards for performing well on tests, then asked some to contemplate backup plans in case they did not receive those rewards.

Their results showed that those who made those backup plan ended up performing worse on the task at hand. And the researchers' follow-up questions showed that this was due, at least in part, to a diminished drive for success.

This could be because having a backup plan helps to reduce the negative emotions you expect to feel if you fail to achieve your goal, the researchers say. Past research suggests that those unpleasant emotions, painful as they are, are important at driving people to work toward their goals. "By making a backup plan, you are effectively constructing an emotional safety net, which may dampen your goal desire," Shin and Milkman write.

In situations where luck or skill is required to achieve a goal, making a backup plan doesn't appear to have the same potential to derail your progress, the researchers say. But in situations that require effort, you may want to weigh the costs and benefits of making a backup plan, lest you allow yourself to fall back on it prematurely.

If you're working in a group, one option is to outsource your backup plan, the researchers say. You can leave one group of employees in a company in charge of the contingency plan, for example, and leave the rest to pursue the primary goal. If you're on your own, however, you might want to wait until you've done everything you can do to achieve your primary goal before considering other options, says Shin.

Comments
Behind the deal: $52 million boutique hotel coming to Ybor City started with cafe con leche at La Tropicana Cafe

Behind the deal: $52 million boutique hotel coming to Ybor City started with cafe con leche at La Tropicana Cafe

TAMPA ó Joe Capitano Sr. invested in the 1400 block of E Seventh Avenue in 1985, never doubting the huge potential of the property for Ybor City.But the deal to build a $52 million boutique hotel on the site didnít start to come together until six ye...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Riverview

Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Riverview

RIVERVIEW ó Sprouts Farmers Market is opening a new location in Riverview, the chain announced Thursday. The new store will be located at Summerfield Crossing Shopping Center, though Sprouts did not have a specific opening date.The announcement comes...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Electric to shut down Big Bend coal unit that killed 5

Tampa Electric to shut down Big Bend coal unit that killed 5

APOLLO BEACH ó Tampa Electric Co. is taking a big step away from coal. The Tampa-based utility is spending $853 million to convert its coal-fired Unit 1 at its Big Bend Power Station to natural gas and retire coal-fired Unit 2 in 2021.Five workers di...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hooper: More than a restaurant, Lee Roy Selmonís was a meeting place

Hooper: More than a restaurant, Lee Roy Selmonís was a meeting place

Itís where former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Doug Williams had lunch with current Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.Itís where University of South Florida fans often gathered to watch the programís biggest road games.Itís where folks showed up in...
Updated: 3 hours ago
An Amazon Echo recorded a familyís conversation, then sent it to a random person in their contacts, report says

An Amazon Echo recorded a familyís conversation, then sent it to a random person in their contacts, report says

A family in Portland, Oregon, received a nightmarish phone call two weeks ago."Unplug your Alexa devices right now," a voice on the other line said. "Youíre being hacked."Apparently, one of Amazon.comís Alexa-powered Echo devices in their house had s...
Updated: 3 hours ago
As home sale prices rise, a lack of homes makes it tough on buyers

As home sale prices rise, a lack of homes makes it tough on buyers

Home sale prices continued to rise both nationally and statewide in April as a prolonged dearth of available homes on the market is making it tough on buyers. A total of 24,804 single-family homes changed hands across Florida last month, up 4.1 perce...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Brink: A 25-cent hike in the federal gas tax is a rotten idea for Florida

Brink: A 25-cent hike in the federal gas tax is a rotten idea for Florida

No matter your politics, the proposed 25-cent hike in the federal gas tax is a lousy idea.Itís regressive, burdening the poor and working class more than the rich.Federal interference with state transportation projects can raise costs, layer on regul...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Tutor looks to empower athletes in Wesley Chapel

Tutor looks to empower athletes in Wesley Chapel

Rashay Hudson operates a tutoring business in Wesley Chapel, and NaDorian Hudson has played basketball his entire life, including in college and the ABA. Now, the husband and wife duo are combining their areas of expertise with a new program for kids...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Bar builder finds solid success in Tampa

Bar builder finds solid success in Tampa

TAMPA ó Ever since he was a little boy, Chris Davenport loved to build things with Legos and erector sets. As he grew older, he spent time working with his dad, a carpenter, and then took welding classes in high school. While in college studying engi...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Metro Diner brings fare to South Tampa

Metro Diner brings fare to South Tampa

Metro Diner, having already established several locations across Florida, including St. Petersburg, now brings its large portion-sized comfort food options across the bay.The local diner is slated to open Tuesday (May 29) at 4011 W Kennedy Blvd and w...
Updated: 8 hours ago