If you’ve ever lost a job, or been through a breakup, or failed an exam, you’ll know that the aftermath can be painful and disorienting. But for some percentage of those who experience these disappointing outcomes, unforeseen opportunities will arise.
In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at the occasional upside of being forced to quit a career, or a relationship, or even a favorite route to work.
Kassia St. Clair brings us the story of William Henry Perkin. As a young man in 19th-century London, Perkin had set his sights on a career in chemistry and medicine. He devoted his time and energy to the search for a treatment for malaria, which was a growing problem around the world. Unfortunately, he failed in his quest, but his failure opened the door to a surprising new discovery that transformed an entire industry.
Kassia St. Clair is a design journalist and the author of The Secret Lives of Color.
Next, Annie Duke joins Katy to explain how events like a shutdown of the London subway system, or the COVID-19 pandemic, can sometimes surface new and previously unexplored options. She also discusses how our identities can be wrapped up in our choices, blinding us to alternatives that may actually serve us better.
Annie Duke is a speaker and decision strategist. She’s also the author of How to Decide: Simple Tools for Making Better Choices.
Finally, Katy explains that while giving up on important jobs, relationships, or habits may not always be the best option, the behavioral bias of escalation of commitment can cause us to experiment and explore too little in life.
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