My eyes opened at 6.30 am, 30 minutes before my alarm clock was due to chime. Too early for me to get up for breakfast so I lie there. The first thought to pour into my mind was the decision I had to make this week.
It’s official – I was stressed. Know how this feels?
Every so often we’re presented with opportunities and we have to make a big decision which to take. Some of them are no-brainers to accept and some easy to dismiss. But some of them stop and make us think:
What’s the best thing to do?
They can be small, but interesting opportunities – like the chance to be involved in a cool sounding project for X number of hours per week. Or they can be big & risky, like an offer to work on a project that would mean lifestyle or income changes or even a move to another part of the world.
Both of these types of opportunities can lead to difficult decisions – particularly the latter.
And of course, just to make things interesting – the better you get at stuff & the more successful you become, the better the opportunities present themselves (this of course makes sense), and hence the harder the decisions you must make.
I’ve written before about opportunities that present themselves – such as one time I made a bad choice and started a PhD simply because it was a good opportunity rather than what I wanted to do, and how starting this blog leads to a lot of opportunities. To sum both these up – making the right decision is important because it gets you to your goals faster.
Thing is – sometimes deciding what is the right thing to do is hard. It causes you to really dig deep and think is this opportunity is right for you – and forget what other people think.
“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” — Bill Cosby
This can be easy in theory but difficult in practice, so I’ve discovered 4 questions that I ask myself whenever I’m present with a new opportunity. Before I share these 4 questions below, I want to show you the following video about life choices given by Steve Jobs in his 2005 commencement speech – he speaks about how to make big decisions (if you haven’t already seen it – I highly recommend you watch it):
To sum up his main points:
- You can’t connect the dots looking forward – only backwards, so you gotta have faith that they’ll connect for you
- You gotta love what you do – don’t settle
- Ever morning ask yourself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to spend it doing what I’m about to do’ – if the answer is ‘No’ for too many days, it’s time for a change
- Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown your own inner voice
- Have the courage to follow your own heart and intuition – they already know what you want to become
How to make the difficult decisions
Whenever I’m presented with an opportunity now – I run it by the following the following 4 questions to see if it’s something I should pursue:
- Will it make me so excited that I want to get up at 6am each morning, simply so I can spend the maximum number of hours available in the day on it?
- Will it being me closer to my life goals (as opposed to putting them on hold)?
- Will I be learning new skills and challenging myself?
- Will I be working with great and successful people?
If the answer to all these questions is an instant ‘Yes’ then I’d seriously consider it. If the answer to any of these is No – I’d think twice about going ahead.
And thankfully, once the decision is made you can go back to having a full night’s sleep.
To echo Steve’s send-off: Stay young, stay foolish