Jan 5, 2017

6 questions to evaluate new opportunities

 A couple of weeks back, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine. He is happy in his current role, earns well and settled in his organization for 5+ years. But he wants to try out something different - a new opportunity that is quite different from what he has been doing so far, a complete shift towards a new career path.

Our hour-long conversation was mainly around me asking him a few questions and let him talk and share his perspectives. Sometimes, we need to articulate to ourselves on why we are keen on certain decisions/life-changing opportunities.

So if you are in a similar situation where you need to decide on a new opportunity / new direction in your career, sit down with a pen and paper and answer the following questions. Or if you don’t like to write it down, talk to someone whom you trust and can open up freely, without the fear of being judged/ridiculed.

1) Why are you interested in this opportunity? What are the goals of yours that this opportunity will help you to achieve?
2) Can the same goals be achieved through other means? Have you evaluated them?
3) Do you plan to go all out towards this new opportunity? Or would you mind trying it out as a side-project and see where it takes you?
4) What is the opportunity cost if you say Yes to this new initiative/idea? What would you gain by going after this new idea? What would you lose out by moving away from your existing career path?
5) Are there any ways by which you can balance it out? Say, by steadying the ship in your current role and conducting focused experiments to evaluate the new opportunity for a few months?
6) What’s going well in your current role/path? What’s missing that makes you want to shift or try something new?

We all have the same time in our hands. When we say Yes to a new opportunity, it also means we are saying No to many others. Years ago, in microeconomics, I had learned about this concept of opportunity cost. Not only for businesses, it is equally applicable to individual decision making, Cost should be measured not just in monetary terms, but we also need to consider the time required, physical effort, mental energy, impact on our relationships etc.

Whatever decision we take, one necessary condition is that we shouldn’t regret it down the line. The way to prevent regret from creeping in is to take the time out and write down clearly why we are pursuing a new opportunity (or otherwise) - the reasons, criteria used and our process of evaluation.

What’s your approach when you had to evaluate a new opportunity/idea in the recent past? Please share in the comments below.

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