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How to Ditch the Endless Quest for Perfect and Find the Career and Life That's Right for You

Monday, Jul. 25, 2011

In a post-feminist, post-Sex & The City, post-economic boom and bust world, women have all the doors of opportunity open. Women are riding an economic rollercoaster against the background of some amazing firsts: the first female presidential candidate; the first female speaker of the house; the first female vice-presidential candidate on the Republican ticket; the first female astronaut to command the International Space Station.

And yet, could the feminists from the ‘60s onward ever have predicted that when fighting for unlimited choices, the fallout for the next generation might instead be a level of commitment phobia that borders on pathological, analysis paralysis, or a perpetual case of “grass-is-greener” syndrome? A world where women seem to have it all – good education, great job, cool place to live – but are still unsatisfied? Did these feminists leave the job unfinished? Are present day women expecting too much? Where are women to go from here?

In UNDECIDED: How to Ditch the Endless Quest for Perfect and Find the Career – and Life – That’s Right for You, Santa Clara University Communication Lecturer Barbara Kelley and her daughter Shannon Kelley share stories from women who have been blessed by limitless choices – but find that with the more options available, the harder it is to feel satisfied. The Kelleys pull together current information from the media and the academic world to present a well-rounded picture of this phenomenon of “analysis paralysis” – the syndrome of being paralyzed by too many choices – and the angst that arises from this choice overload.

UNDECIDED covers every angle of the current employment and life dilemmas women face – from internal pressure to being a stay at home mom to being the model “successful career woman” or the woman who has landed a successful job (and maybe even profound “success”) but still yearns for something more.

The Kelleys explore the reason behind women’s generational epidemic of chronic indecision, contextualizing this “problem that has no name” using research, interviews with experts, and oral histories from undecided women in their 20s through their 60s. The book explores such issues as:

  • How women arrived at the frustrating place of having too many options, too much pressure, and too many promises;
  • How feminism hasn’t gone far enough: women are living in an unchanged world whose reality is far different from the messaging they’re fed;
  • The science of decision-making;
  • How the message that “you can do anything you want” can turn around to leave you feeling as if anything short of amazing is a bit like failure;
  • Why women feel like they chose “wrong” in their quest for perfect;
  • How this indecision is a new phenomenon for women: men also have lots of options, but women do not have generations of role models who have gone through the same experience to look to for guidance.

Media Contact
Connie Kim Coutain | | 408-554-5126 O | 408-829-4836 C

Tags: Barbara Kelley, book, Undecided

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