Saturday, March 24, 2012

how to know when an idea is good

I'm pretty obsessed with lifestyle design and the decision-making process that defines it, for good or bad. As such, I'm pretty obsessed with the factors that drive our decisions as well as how decisions - both good and bad - come about. I have recently reflected on how to decipher between the two of these, and offer you my thoughts:

1. Good decisions feel easy.
You don't have to think about it very long to decide to do something that's a good idea. It just seems obvious - even if only to you.

I once put the entire deposit down for a 3-bedroom apartment before even having roommates lined up. It felt incredibly easy to make that decision, I was so sure of the apartment. I stayed sure about that decision for every one of the very happy 365 days I lived there (with the two roommates I did, in fact, ultimately find.)

2. Bad decisions feel "sticky."
The horrible decisions feel obviously not good. If the very process of even having to consider the decision makes you unhappy - if weighing your options feels off - leaning toward the outcome that would create a change won't be good.

On the other hand, maybe a decision does not immediately make you feel exactly ill at ease, and yet there's something about it that just sticks around. You can't say for sure yes or no, and something about it is poking you in the ribs a little bit. Maybe you want to like a certain outcome (say, accepting a job) but the decision feels... sticky. Not easy. Not horrible, but not obvious. Don't accept this job.

 3. Good decisions feel take little imagination
If you can immediately see yourself on the other end of a decision, it's a good one. If you can envision yourself waking up every two hours to bottle-feed a newborn, maybe you're ready to have one. If, on the other hand, you have a hard time envisioning yourself burping a baby, maybe you're not. Because...

4. Bad decisions seem foggy.
If you can't easily visualize yourself working with the team that just interviewed you, maybe you shouldn't accept the offer. If you walk around a city without feeling "at home," maybe you shouldn't move there. If the idea of starting a bakery seems like a cake deal on paper, but you're not clearly sure where you see yourself in the mix of the everyday business, it's probably not for you.

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