How to Use The Airport Test to Make Better Decisions


Yesterday I listened to an episode of The Lively Show interviewing Pat Flynn. One moment from the interview really stood out to me – in fact, it literally made me stop in my tracks, turn off the episode, get out my notebook and write down my thoughts.

Pat has just written a new book called Will It Fly?, which is about testing out your business ideas to see whether they’ll take off and be successful or never really get off the ground and flop. His techniques are designed to stop you pouring time and money into ideas that aren’t going to work.

One thing I found very interesting about his approach was that he suggests not only market-testing, but self-testing. That is, he’s not only interested in whether a particular idea is a good fit for your audience and the marketplace, but whether it is a good fit for you. In the episode he shared one type of self-test in particular that I found very powerful, called the Airport Test.

Here’s how to do the Airport Test:

1. Imagine that five years from now, you run into an acquaintance at the airport whom you haven’t seen for the past five years. They ask you how things are, and you truthfully respond with, “Things are absolutely amazing! They couldn’t be any better.”

2. Get out a piece of paper and divide it into four sections

2. Write down the four most important areas of your life as headings for each section – for example, family, professional, health and finances.

3. Fill in each section with the ideas that come up for you as you imagine that airport scenario and how it would feel to talk about all the wonderful things happening in your life.

What I love about this exercise is that it includes an emotional component. You have to think about what would make you feel like everything is going beautifully in your life, and that makes it a little easier to imagine what those things might be. I ended up having some insights and ideas that I didn’t even see coming.

I also love that it makes things clearer and it becomes easier to see the bigger picture. You can see what you want the general themes of your life to be, which can help you to decide between various options starting from today. It can help you identify whether a certain job, activity, or relationship is going to get you closer to that vision of the future or steer you further away from it.

Of course, dreams change over time and we should try to stay open to new opportunities and types of growth. I also think it’s important to trust your gut and check in every so often to see if you feel differently. But I think having a guide, even a rough one, to where you want to go can help you make start to make smart, thoughtful decisions right now.

Ps. Here’s another of my very favourite techniques for making better decisions, and how I try to live more intentionally.

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