Career Design Lab

Imagine possible futures

How to avoid WYSIATI on your career path
person with a telescope

Cognitive limits

Career decision-making can be overwhelming. On one hand there is an overload of information available as we are bombarded with news, stories and social media posts via a variety of communication channels. On the other, there is simultaneously lack of information as past truths and solutions are becoming obsolete in the radically changing world.

One of the ways we simplify information processing is WYSIATI. This acronym, coined by Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel laureate and cognitive psychologist, stands for What You See Is All There Is. In other words, we consider information that is readily available to us and ignore other possibilities. When it comes to careers this may mean that we consider only options that we already know (e.g. what our parents, friends or media tell us).

Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.

Gloria Steinem

What if...?

When we are faced with an important problem or a decision, we typically begin to work on the problem by collecting and analyzing data. We think that working linearly on the problem is the way to a solution. However, the more complex the problem, the more inefficient this approach seems to be.

Career design is essentially a process of creative problem solving. One of the design thinking tools it uses is What if thinking. In other words, instead of resorting to your first idea or looking for one right answer, the point is to generate many options from which to choose. This helps you challenge your habitual ways of thinking and see your problem from many perspectives. It also connects you with your emotions and intuition as it aims to suspend your critical mind for a moment.


Ideate 10 different future careers for yourself. You can use one of the instructions below to help you ideate.

a) Begin with your current idea and then think of the next option, assuming the earlier ideas are not possible.

b) List 10 biggest challenges in the world and think how you could work to solve them.

c) List 10 jobs/careers you could do if money was not an object.

Learn more

a laughing woman in an art workshop

Design a Meaningful Career (external link)

In this self-paced online course you will learn how to shape your career as you go in the radically changing world of work.

  • Published:
  • Updated: