IN LIFE and at work, it is said there are two kinds of people. The first are promotion-focused while the second are prevention-focused.

Mooted by psychologists Heidi Grant Halvorson and E. Tory Higgins, this framework allows you to determine where you best fit in a continuum of career choices.



The first type — promotion-focused people — see their goals as a way to advance forward. They zoom in on the rewards that can be realised when goals are achieved. Eager to “play to win”, they like to dream big and stretch their imaginations in whatever they do.

Risk takers and gamblers, promotion-focused people like to act quickly. Action-oriented, they love to let their momentum carry them forward, and are buoyantly optimistic about their chances of success.

Unfortunately, all that enthusiastic entrepreneurial fervour also means they are less likely to have a contingency plan. If something catastrophic occurs, they will be rained out of their parade. For them, this is the price they need to pay.



On the other side of the fence, we have the prevention-focused people. Seeing their goals as responsibilities, they prefer to stay on the bright side of the tried-and-tested road.

Worriers of the worst-case scenario, prevention-focused people are often careful, methodical and meticulous. They ensure they do not lose what they have, and work towards maintaining the status

Risk-averse, analytical and problem-solvers by nature, prevention-focused people are better students of experience. They are pessimists who prefer to go through each activity with a fine-tooth comb. Often, they keep a careful watch over what they do, and are great with details.


Which suits you better

Naturally, we all fall somewhere along the spectrum of promotion-prevention.

Some of us are more gung-ho about starting new businesses or embarking on fresh projects. We are willing to brave the winds to invest money, time and energy in risky endeavours. The greater the gamble, the higher the thrill.

Others, however, prefer to take the tried-and-tested path to success. These people prefer to work in large and stable organisations, and are more comfortable following clear and established career paths en route to climbing the corporate ladder.

Profession-wise, there is a distinct divide between the two personality and psychological profile

If you are the promoter-focused type, you are better off as an entrepreneur or in jobs like marketing, design, video production, art curation, sales and business development.

However, if you are a prevention-focused type, jobs in accounting, finance, tax consulting, security, emergency services and healthcare may better suit your temperament and disposition.

Do you prefer to win or not to lose? Think about which roles would suit you better when planning your next career move.


Article by Walter Lim, a senior marketer, publicist and social influencer with almost 19 years of experience. He provides free business and management advice at For more information, e-mail him at