Mind & Body

The Opportunity Checklist Helps You Decide Whether or Not to Go for It

Decisions are hard. From choosing which career path to pursue to deciding on your favorite article on Curiosity (if such a thing is possible), indecision can be borderline mentally crippling. That's why your brain subconsciously has 40 percent of your life on autopilot. But for those tough potential business opportunities, there's a neat little system you can use to do the deciding for you.

Related Video: How Many Choices Are Too Many?

Decisions, Decisions

We have long misunderstood the nature of decision-making. In particular, subscribing to the concept of ego depletion has been screwing with us. This is the idea that you wake up with a finite reservoir of willpower for the day, putting the pressure on to really use it wisely. Since that junk was debunked in 2015, approaching decision-making should be less intimidating. Still, even the most trivial choices can seem like life-or-death.

It's hard, we get it. Time doesn't help: Thinking too much about a decision on the table only makes it more difficult to make. More options don't help either: The more choices you have, the less happy you are with your final decision. Where will it end?!

Check Yourself

One way to quickly decide on some of the most important matters in your life is the opportunities checklist presented in Harvard Business Review, which the author attributes to Dan Sullivan, the co-founder of Strategic Coach. It goes like this: When you come across a new opportunity or look for a new one to pursue, you can make that decision by scoring five key factors. Rank each of the following items from -1 to +5 and tally your score (yes, that's a negative one in there. Remember that an opportunity can detract from your goals, too.) If your final score is 15 or higher, you should probably jump on that opportunity. If it falls below, ditch it and move on.

  1. Ability. Will this opportunity really showcase your unique skills? Will it utilize what you're good at to let your talent shine through? If your answer is a resounding yes, score this one a four or five.
  2. Reward. What's the payoff? Is this opportunity worth its weight in gold bullion? Even low-paying gigs can have a high reward, by the way. It all depends on what you value and what makes you feel satisfied at the end of the day.
  3. Enhancement. Will this opportunity help you grow and learn? Shoot for the moon, don't move in reverse.
  4. Appreciation. According to the HBR, appreciation in a business sense means "an increase in value for the audience or customer base." Will this opportunity help you help others? For example, the appreciation for teaching a group of kindergarteners how to plan for retirement is quite low. Helping a group of Baby Boomers on their retirement path provides much greater value.
  5. Referral. Is this opportunity a dead end? Ideally, you want to take opportunities that can help you land to next thing and the next thing. One-off experiences aren't going to serve you too well in the long run.

Want to learn more from strategic coach Dan Sullivan? Check out his book "The Dan Sullivan Question: Ask It and Transform Anyone's Future." We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Joanie Faletto November 5, 2017

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