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“Research assistants posed as jam suppliers and set up sampling tables at a gourmet store. In one condition of the experiment, six flavours of jam were available. On another condition, twenty-four flavours of jam were featured.”

This experiment proved to be an ideal method of understanding career choices. By giving the customers a variety of options, they noted how the quantity subconsciously affects the pattern of purchase more than the variety of options.

After laying out the choices, the researchers noticed that the twenty-four-flavour table have attracted more attention from the customers, but very few went on to purchase from the set. While, at the six-flavour set up, more customers were able to pick their choice easily and proceeded on buying a jar of jam.

Twentysomethings hear they are standing in front of a boundless array of choices. Being told they can do anything or go anywhere.

Based on the study, Meg Jay explains that one of the reasons we feel stuck on our dilemma is because of the overwhelming thought that we can do anything we want, if we want to. “Twentysomethings hear they are standing in front of a boundless array of choices. Being told they can do anything or go anywhere.”

But she elaborates that the idea of a ‘twenty-four-flavour table’ is just a myth. This much amount of options hardly exist even for those gifted with multiple talents. At best, each of us is choosing from our own six-flavour set.

So how do you begin to decide, really?

Well, “you’ve spent more than two decades shaping who you are. You have strengths, weaknesses, experiences, interests, diplomas, hang-ups and priorities…You’re standing in front of six flavours of jam and you know something about whether you prefer kiwi or black cherry.”

You’re standing in front of six flavours of jam and you know something about whether you prefer kiwi or black cherry.

Each bottle of jam represents bits and pieces of your ‘self’ reflecting your past, present and desired future. Choosing your options is merely just laying out the flavours of jam in your life and picking the one that tastes best for you. You can even go back to pick another variety next time.

from CHOOSING A CAREER IS LIKE PICKING A BOTTLE OF JAM by Dreamlist

and first read in Meg Jay’s book THE DEFINING DECADE

::: check out her TEDTalk HERE

 

 

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