Cultivating a Willing Readiness to Reflect: Interventions That Facilitate Making Career-Life Decisions
By Edward Anthony Colozzi and Amy Susan Thul-Sigler
Unmet Needs Require Interventions
Facilitating complex processes associated with making informed career-life choices is challenging for service providers dealing with large populations. Too many high school youth leave with a minimum of assistance devoted to exploring and narrowing occupational choices and reviewing post-secondary options. Subsequently, they need and expect post-secondary institutions to more effectively help them discover their “career” path.
Many service providers in colleges and agencies focus on testing to determine the “right” major and work choices for individuals, sometimes influenced by stereotypic views of “test them and tell them” approaches, in contrast with more engaging process-oriented experiences involving reflection and values clarification. Adults experiencing transitions often need more than a test-focused approach to facilitate effective decision-making.
Interventions Require Reframing Career to Career-Life
The main worldview of “career” shared by many service providers and individuals seeking direction is, “career equals work.” This view does not fully represent the reality that most youth and adults are actively playing a minimum of five of nine life roles. Only one provides income – the work role – and each life role affects the others positively and negatively throughout the life journey for all people.
Career is actually much broader, deeper, and richer than being simply viewed as work. Career involves, and always has, simultaneously playing a multitude of life roles and taking responsibility to effectively balance various roles that compete for attention, as individuals strive to make informed decisions that result in success and satisfaction across life roles. This requires interventions that more accurately portray “career” as “career-life” (Colozzi, 1981; Colozzi & Haehnlen, 1981, 1982). However, most practitioners do not sufficiently address this with youth and adults seeking career services.
Interventions Require Process-Oriented Activities and Refection on Values
Effective interventions require time for reflection within a framework that clearly teaches how youth and adults are playing several life roles simultaneously, using age- and culturally-appropriate language. This could include a brief assessment of current time and energy spent across nine potential life roles, using open-ended inquiry. A more self-paced, reflective activity is a simple, one-sided, user-friendly mini-assessment the first author developed, the CAREER-LIFE CARE Assessment & Action Inventory - AV (Colozzi, 1984, 2009, 2014). It has been successfully used with individual and group activities across a variety of populations in multicultural settings.
This intervention includes an opportunity for individuals to reflect on their career-life roles, especially those needing immediate attention, and then create a brief action plan to move forward. Additionally, this intervention can include an overview of the world of work, self-knowledge and Holland types, and a values-based activity requiring refection called DOVE (Depth-Oriented Values Extraction) (Colozzi, 1978, 2003, Colozzi & Byars-Winston, 2014, Colozzi & Haehnlen, 1982).
The second author collaborated with the first author and used a version of the DOVE assessment intervention (Colozzi, 2015) with one experimental group for her doctoral research study (Thul-Sigler, 2016) in which adults were able to reflect on their career-life roles, as well as specific roles that caused a measure of stress or conflict. Being exposed to this information can often can reinforce one’s internal locus of control and raise efficacy beliefs about making decisions and taking action. This research indicated the DOVE values-based intervention was a significant factor in reducing career uncertainty.
Interventions Require a Willing Readiness to Reflect
Process-oriented interventions require a willing readiness to reflect (Colozzi & Colozzi, 2000). Not all individuals are ready to reflect about themselves, their challenges, fears, dreams or even the personal responsibility and commitment required to fully engage in exploring options and making decisions. Many individuals visit a counselor, take an interest inventory, or use a computer guidance system they believe will give them answers. Many of these same individuals become overwhelmed and easily discouraged when they realize the career choice process requires personal responsibility, commitment, and time. While they may indicate an interest in exploration, because they have a reluctant readiness to reflect (Colozzi & Colozzi, 2000), they will eventually, and often quickly, disengage. These individuals are not yet ready to fully engage with reflection and make a personal commitment, for any number of reasons, and there is very little they or others can do to trigger full engagement.
One can be aroused to readiness, but only if one is ready to be aroused. A willing readiness to reflect is required, and individuals who are initially curious about exploration and making decisions but only have a reluctant readiness to reflect are less likely to sufficiently engage in the complex processes associated with making informed choices. This has important implications for student and client attrition across settings.
The second author seems to have provided some evidence of this behavior based on her quasi-experimental study designed to focus on whether career indecision of adults could be reduced by participation in a process-oriented, values-based webinar (Thul-Sigler, 2016). All subjects were divided into three groups: two experimental groups and one control group. One experimental group was required to reflect and engage with process-oriented activities in a values-based webinar. They showed the largest decrease in career uncertainty, and also experienced the largest attrition, 24%, compared with the other two groups. The second experimental group participated in an interest-based webinar which was less process-oriented, and they experienced less attrition, 18%. The control group that required no participation with process-oriented activities and only took the pre- and post-test, experienced the lowest attrition, 13%.
A Call for Action
Results from the second author’s research provide insight into the effectiveness of incorporating values with decision-making and demonstrate the usefulness and importance of reflection. Using a values-based approach can be beneficial for most areas of counseling and education including agencies, corporate, private practice and mental health settings where the creative incorporation of values into research and practice can provide new and effective interventions. Despite an individual’s particular interests, conflict in occupations typically occurs when values and interests do not align. This could be avoided if more process-oriented activities with values are included and incorporated within the reality-rich context of career-life.
Exposing K-6 youth to the career-life paradigm with fun, creative individual reflection and group sharing can initiate and support increased awareness about their self-knowledge, their unique interests and gifts. This experience contributes to the important cultivation, clarification, and further development of interests, attitudes, beliefs, and the important core values that are critical to the very essence of self-knowledge.
Everyone has self-knowledge; the challenge is to facilitate increased awareness of one’s self-knowledge. Reflection is the human activity that powerfully leads to increased self-awareness. Our strong belief is that reflection, especially during the formative K-6 years, will lead to increased readiness in middle and high school. This readiness will inspire one’s willing readiness to reflect in later years that is useful throughout numerous transitions that comprise the career-life journey.
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Colozzi, E. A. (1981). The Leeward experience - a report on data localization and demonstration activities relating to career kokua - the Hawaii career information system. Unpublished manuscript, Leeward Community College, Oahu, Hawaii.
Colozzi, E. A. (1984). Creating careers with confidence. DELTA RAINBOW, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Colozzi, E. A. (2003). Depth-oriented values extraction (DOVE), Career Development Quarterly, 52,(2), 180-189.
Colozzi, E. A. (2009). Creating careers with confidence. Pearson/Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, N.J.
Colozzi, E. A. (2014). Career-life CARE assessment & action inventory (AV). Unpublished assessment based on a paper introducing paradigm Career as CARE, presented for the Society for Vocational Psychology Conference at Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts.
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Colozzi, E. A., & Byars-Winston, A. (2014). DOVE (Depth-oriented values extraction): Helping clients create career-life choices. In M. Pope, L. Y. Flores, & P. J. Rottinghaus (Eds.). The role of values in careers. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.
Colozzi, E. A. & Colozzi, L. C. (2000). College students’ callings and careers: an integrated values-oriented perspective, in D. Luzzo (Ed.), Career Counseling of College Students: An Empirical Guide to Strategies That Work (pp.63-94). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
Colozzi, E. A. & Haehnlen, F. P. (1981). The impact of a computerized career information system on a selected community college in an island state. Paper presented for the International Consultation on Career Guidance in Higher Education Conference. Robinson College, Cambridge, UK.
Colozzi, E. A. & Haehnlen, F. P. (1982). The impact of a computerized career information system on a community in an island state. International Journal for the Advancement of Counseling, 5, 273-282, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague.
Colozzi, E. A. (n.d.). Creating Careers with Confidence. Retrieved from www.creatingcareerswithconfidence.com
Thul-Sigler, A. (2016). The effects of career interventions on the career uncertainty of adults. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.
Edward Anthony Colozzi, Ed.D., is owner of Career Development and Counseling Services. He is a MA state licensed mental health counselor, a nationally certified counselor, a master career counselor, a MA State Certified Trainer, an NCDA Fellow, and is President of the MA Career Development Association (MCDA). Learn more about Dr. Colozzi at www.creatingcareerswithconfidence.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy Thul-Sigler, D.Ed. is currently an Associate Director and Instructor at Penn State University, Health Policy and Administration. She holds a doctoral degree in adult education from Penn State University. She also is a Global Career Development Facilitator and a Field Editor for Career Convergence. She can be reached at email@example.com