It’s coming up for January and we’re getting ready to make decisions about the year ahead, so how do you make a decision that’s right for you? Are you thinking about changing jobs? Moving your relationship to the next stage? Starting up something completely new? Making smarter decisions could be the key to becoming the person you want to be and creating the life you want to live.

The Really Good Idea Test

The Really Good Idea Test

Here’s 5 things that will help you to look before you leap

1. Be clear about your goal. What is it you are actually trying to achieve? Go to the nearest mirror and look yourself in the eye - it’s time to be really honest with yourself. Are you sure that this change is a step towards achieving that goal, or are you just making a change for change’s sake?

2. Identify what you’re afraid of. What is the biggest risk with taking this course of action? If you feel there are risks, then it is probably because you have not been in this position before, and you have no prior experience. While you will never remove all risks, you can reduce them by gathering some more information upon which to base your decision.

3. Go and talk with five people who have been in this boat before. Find five people who have made a similar decision in the past and who had the same reservations as you. Find out how they felt, what they did and how that worked out for them. Be careful not to take to heart advice from people who tell you what to do, especially if they have not been there and done it themselves. While close friends and family have your best interests at heart, they have a tendency to tell you what you want to hear, so best to steer clear.

4. Listen extremely carefully to how they answer your questions. Right now, you are trying to get some intel, you want to hear other people’s stories to gather evidence that will help you make your decision. So this isn’t a chat about what they think you should do, it is about how they felt, thought and what they did. It is about what worked out well for them and what did not. This is not about you, it is about them!

5. Use this evidence to make your decision. Review everything you have heard from these people who had the same reservations as you. Be objective. What have you learned? Were you making any incorrect assumptions? Now what does your gut tell you to do? Has that changed from where you started out?

Trying to make the right decision can take up a lot of headspace and take hours as you weigh up the different options and try to imagine the impact of each path. Break out by doing your own research and using this new information to help you make the decision. You will never get rid of all the risk, there is always uncertainty when going down a new path, but you can improve the chances of making a good decision by making “evidence-based decisions” rather than just relying on your instinct alone.

Julia Shalet is author of new book, The Really Good Idea Test, published by Pearson, £16.99.

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