Taking on new opportunities can enhance your diagnostic mindset.

The more and more you do the same type of work, or the same type of activities, the harder it is to focus on what’s the right thing to do. The more of an expert you become, the easier it is to jump to conclusions about what you need to do given a particular situation. This is simply how your mind works. You habitually get better and better at what you do.

This can be both good and bad. Knowing what to do is a good thing given the right situation. And it’s a bad thing given the wrong situation. Either way you’ll know exactly what to do. You can become very good at solving problems that shouldn’t be solved.

You can get around this by taking the time to assess the situation before acting on your intuition. This broadens your perspective and affords the opportunity to determine alternative actions. It also gives you the chance to assess the benefits and decide if action is justifiable.

Taking the time to diagnose a situation is always a good idea but actually diagnosing doesn’t happen naturally. And the more of an expert you are, given the right situation that relates to your expertise, the less likely you are to diagnose and the more likely you are to jump to prescription.

One way to nurture your diagnostic mindset is to make sure you are trying new things. To make sure you’re expanding your expertise. Every year you should be doing things that you’ve never done before. Or you should be expanding something you’ve done before into uncharted territory. In doing so you can leverage the fact that your brain won’t have an immediate conclusion about what needs to be done. You’re less likely to jump to conclusions. And instead you can focus on diagnosing the situation and finding out what’s the right thing to do.

In these situations, do not be afraid of the fact that you don’t immediately know what to do. That’s a blessing, it’s what you want to happen. In fact, you should be excited when you don’t know what you will do given the situation. Probe the desired outcome, see if you feel comfortable with what you find, and then figure out what you have to do along the way.