When it comes to making a decision about our career -- such as whether to take a new job or jump into a new project -- we often are in a state of anxiety. We start to pick apart small things (the new job doesn't offer free parking) or feel compelled to accept the big project because all our friends seem to be involved in projects that make them happy. We feel anxious about whether it's the right move -- or whether we'll regret it in six months.
Several years ago I interview Dan Heath, who authored "Decisive: How to Make Better Decisions in Life and Work" with his brother, Chip. He offered some advice about making better decisions about a job:
• Do a 10/10/10 analysis. Think about how you would feel about your job choice 10 minutes from now, 10 months from now and 10 years from now.
"This is the best advice, especially if you're young. This will free you from the sense you need to pick the right job right now. No one will do that," he says. "Rather than agonize over it, why not just try it?"
• Use a vanishing options test. If you take away your current job offer, what would you do?
"When people imagine they cannot have the option, they move their mental spotlight," Dan Heath says. This exercise helps job seekers consider other options that might not otherwise have crossed their minds and come up with a more practical solution.
• Dip a toe in. If you're considering a big career or job shift, don't think that you have to jump in completely.
Maybe volunteering or moonlighting would give you a chance to try out a particular type of work, or you could shadow someone on the job for a few weeks, he suggests.
"Sometimes when you're dissatisfied with a job, every path looks like the yellow brick road," he says.
• Use multi-tracking. If you're house hunting and you only view one house, you may begin to rationalize away its faults.
But if you weigh several houses at one time, you will be more honest with yourself about the pros and cons, Dan Heath says. Job hunters should use the same strategy and look at multiple jobs at one time.
• Conduct a premortem. Envision what the job you're considering would be like six months from now and the worst-case scenario.
Is that something you're willing to risk? If not, you might want to move on.
Finally, Heath advises you to beware that you may have blinders on regarding other options.
"People are more likely to select information that supports their pre-existing attitudes, beliefs and actions," he says.