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Rules for Life

Check your three boxes

Looking for a new job? Thinking about asking the girl you’re seeing to be exclusive? Considering a move to a new city? No matter what the “big decision” is, it’s always important to weigh the pros and cons so you know what you’re getting yourself into and feel comfortable with your decision. This is why I tell many young men they need to ensure the decision “checks their three boxes”.

But wait, what boxes? Think of your desires for any situation as a checklist. If you were looking for a job, what would you want out of the job?:

  • Specific salary
  • Short commute
  • Ability to advance
  • Strong benefits
  • Boss you can learn from
  • The actual work is interesting
  • Great culture
  • Chance to expand network
  • Competitive bonus / equity structure
  • Opportunity to travel

And so on and so forth. Think of these categories as your “boxes”. In this specific example, there are ten boxes. Every once in awhile, the job you find will check every box, but the odds of that happening are small.

A really valuable exercise to run through while considering an important decision is actually ranking the value of these ten boxes. Evaluate which are absolutely necessary versus which are “nice to have”, and put them in that specific order.

For example, if you’re a very competitive person that is highly motivated by making money, you may rank these boxes in the following way:

    Specific salary
    Competitive bonus / equity structure
    Ability to advance
    Boss you can learn from
    Chance to expand network
    Strong benefits
    Opportunity to travel
    The actual work is interesting
    Great culture
    Short commute

You could be considering two job offers, so running through this exercise will help you drill down to the most important factors and make the best decision possible. Be realistic; most situations are not perfect, so while seven of your boxes may be checked, three might go completely unchecked. That’s okay, as long as your “big three” boxes are checked.

After you’ve ranked your top three categories, compare the two job opportunities to ensure both do check those boxes. It might be an easy, clear-cut decision if one does and the other falls short. However, if both job opportunities fulfill your top three needs, you have two ways of analyzing this further:

Weigh your top three boxes for each opportunity to see which offer is stronger, or consider boxes four and five to determine which is a more well-rounded opportunity.

Option 1) Weigh the boxes:

  • Specific salary:
  • MARVEL $65k / DC $75k
  • ADVANTAGE: DC
  • Competitive bonus / equity structure:
  • MARVEL $25k / DC $15k
  • ADVANTAGE: MARVEL
  • Ability to advance:
  • MARVEL yes within a year/ DC yes, but less structured
  • ADVANTAGE: Undetermined.

Option 2) Most well rounded:

  • Boss you can learn from:
  • MARVEL: boss travels a lot DC: boss is experienced and accessible
  • ADVANTAGE: DC
  • Opportunity to grow network:
  • MARVEL: Bigger team, smaller client networking opportunity DC: smaller team, more opportunity to meet new clients
  • ADVANTAGE: DC

Remember, all big decisions should be thoroughly analyzed before the choice is made. You should never do this in haste, and anyone that pressures you to decide too quickly doesn’t have your best interests in mind. Take your time and fully understand what you’re getting yourself into before making the big move. Good luck out there.

– Your Big Bro