Wantologist: A coach who sells his or her assistance to people unclear about what they want. A blend of want and -ologist (“specialist”). Derived from Want-ology, a trademark registered in 2008 to Dr. Kevin B. Kreitman, “cybernetician & Renaissance woman.” (“That’s Kevin—just like the man’s name. And yes, I am female.”)
Here’s how the Want-ology website explains it:
To get what you really want, you have to know what you really want. Feel really secure that your dream job won't trap you in a nightmare. And feel confident that you can avoid jumping “out of the frying pan into the fire” when you decide to go for it.
Want-ologyTM is the fundamental course that will focus you on what you truly want in a way that will enable you to make your dreams come true.
In a new book, The Outsourced Life: Intimate Life in Market Times, sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild examines wantologists and their kin: dating coaches, wedding planners, Rent-a-Grandmas, photo-album assemblers, nameologists (who will name your baby for a fee), and so on. This passage comes from an excerpt published in yesterday’s New York Times Sunday Review:
After a 20-year career as a psychologist, Ms. [Katherine] Ziegler expanded her practice to include executive coaching, life coaching and wantology. Originally intended to help business managers make purchasing decisions, wantology is the brainchild of Kevin Kreitman, an industrial engineer who set up a two-day class to train life coaches to apply this method to individuals in private life. Ms. Ziegler took the course and was promptly certified in the new field.
Ms. Ziegler explains that the first step in thinking about a “want,” is to ask your client, “ ‘Are you floating or navigating toward your goal?’ A lot of people float. Then you ask, ‘What do you want to feel like once you have what you want?’ ”
Ms. Ziegler provided a service — albeit one with a wacky name — for a fee. Still, the mere existence of a paid wantologist indicates just how far the market has penetrated our intimate lives. Can it be that we are no longer confident to identify even our most ordinary desires without a professional to guide us?
Hochschild wonders whether wantology represents “the tail end of a larger story”:
Consider some recent shifts in language. Care of family and friends is increasingly referred to as “lay care.” The act of meeting a romantic partner at a flesh-and-blood gathering rather than online is disparaged by some dating coaches as “dating in the wild.”
The very ease with which we reach for market services may help prevent us from noticing the remarkable degree to which the market has come to dominate our very ideas about what can or should be for sale or rent, and who should be included in the dramatic cast — buyers, branders, sellers — that we imagine as part of our personal life. It may even prevent us from noticing how we devalue what we don’t or can’t buy.
Hochschild is not the only author asking these questions. Michael J. Sandel, a professor of government at Harvard, has just published What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, which is also about what money can buy—a prison-cell upgrade and the right to emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, to name just two examples. An excerpt from Sandel’s book appeared in the April issue of the Atlantic.