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BK Blog Post
Posted by Liz Guthridge, Managing Director, Connect Consulting Group.
Liz Guthridge is a coach, consultant and facilitator who helps leaders turn their blue-sky ideas into greener-pasture actions. She uses applied neuroscience, behavior design and mindful communications.
To paraphrase the pop standard, “I got it bad and that ain’t good.”
My crime: nurturing biases in affective forecasting. Affective forecasting is the prediction of one’s affect —emotional state—in the future, which I’ve been studying in my applied neuroscience program.
My brain didn’t consider all the available data when I predicted how I’d feel about a future event, which has led to a major case of “miswanting.”
The real problem with miswanting is that it leads you to want the wrong things and make poor judgments about what will really make you happy, Timothy Wilson and Daniel Gilbert describe in their article Affective Forecasting: Knowing What to Want.
In my case, my husband and I both thought we’d love to downsize when we moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Charleston, South Carolina last year. After 13 months of living in a two-story “dollhouse” though, we’re selling it and buying a one-story larger place for us, the dog and our stuff.
And yes, we’re moving twice in a short-time period, which is time consuming and costly.
However, rather than mope about “immune neglect”—a poor ability to cope with negative events—we’re practicing “mental contrasting.” This combines positive thinking—and action in our case— with “realism,” which author and professor Gabriele Oettingen suggests as a healthy alternative to either positively fantasizing or dwelling on obstacles.
Is it possible to practice mental contrasting before making costly life mistakes? Yes. Do what I neglected to do.
By taking one, two or all three steps that opens up your mind, you’re better able to think through your decision more thoroughly. You also can picture yourself better in the new scenario and identify more accurately how you’ll feel about yourself and the situation. You may not prevent miswanting, but at least it won’t be a severe case that requires more big changes.
How are you opening your mind to envision a better, more accurate future for yourself?