Every day we are faced with decisions. Some are more urgent than others while others can just appear that way.
Some decisions are easy, while others can make us break out in a cold sweat so much that we can’t really decide.
Some decisions fill us with so much angst that we don’t know how to get unstuck from our analysis paralysis.
Do I stay with my current job or take the new job opportunity in a new city?
Do I stay late at work tonight as my boss asked me, even though I had plans with the family?
Do I buy a new car or lease one?
Do I quit my job, sell all my belongings, and go traveling?
Do I go to Church this Sunday or sleep in?
Do I accept the proposal or not?
We are faced with so many decisions each day that it’s difficult to know the repercussions of our decisions, particularly as there are competing priorities and we are faced with information overload.
One technique which I have successfully used is the 10-10-10 method.
This method was proposed by Suzy Welch and I first read about it back in a 2006 issue of ‘O’ magazine when Suzy had a recurring column in the magazine.
While browsing a bookstore recently, I came across Suzy’s new book called 10-10-10 and it brought back how useful the method was for when facing decisions and I thought I would share it with you.
We all use different methods when making decisions.
How do you normally make decisions? Do you use your gut? Using your gut reaction to something can be done on the small things in life, but do you really want to rely on gut instinct for your major life decisions?
Do you go with the decision that everyone else thinks you should go with? That kind of gives everyone else the power over your own life though, doesn’t it? Why abdicate your life to the consensus of others? Are they going to live with the consequences of the decisions? Only you can live your life.
Do you take the easy way out and do nothing? Sure, that can alleviate some pain in the short-term, but how about in the long-term? Your entire life can be wasted away while you do nothing. Time stands still for no (wo)man.
The 10-10-10 method puts your decisions into perspective so that you can quantify your decision-making and it also allows you to live authentically according to your values.
The first step in the method is to determine your personal values in life.
Does family or relationships come first? Or maybe it’s your career or your faith? Do you value your independence above all else or is it the mighty dollar?
When you are clear what your values are you can then ask yourself the important questions to use 10-10-10 for any decision that is facing you.
You have an important decision ahead of you. You don’t know what to do.
Try the 10-10-10 method and ask yourself the following questions:
- What are the positive and negative consequences of the decision options across 3 timeframes?
- How will this decision play out in 10 minutes?
- How about in 10 months?
- What are the long-term consequences of this decision in 10 years?
It can be fairly easy to see how a decision will play out in 10 minutes. It gets a little harder when it’s 10 months, but when we think of the long-term consequences of our decisions, things can put into perspective.
Would you make the same decision today if you knew the ramifications of that decision 10 years from now?
For instance, let’s say that you are thinking of ending a relationship that doesn’t seem to be working out quite the way you expected. You will have to decide what your values are before you can decide anything. If you value family and relationships above all else, you will be using that bias when looking at the different timeframes.
Ask yourself: what are the pros and cons of staying within this relationship in the next 10 minutes? Perhaps a pro would be that you have someone who is cooking your dinner. A con is that in ten minutes you know the food will be eaten and you’ll have to clean up the kitchen because they never do.
What about in 10 months? If you end the relationship, where will you be in ten months? A pro might be that you have learned to take care of your own finances because your partner was very foolhardy with money. You may provide them with 10 months to see positive action on their part and to re-evaluate again. A con might be that you faced depression and embarrassment 10 months from now because you failed again in another relationship.
What about in 10 years? If family and relationships are values that mean the most to you, how will your decision play out in 10 years? A pro may be that because you are no longer in that downward spiral of a relationship, you had time to work on what’s important to you and you have gained confidence in yourself. You’re now able to better understand what you want and don’t want in a partner. A con could be that you are still single and are not in a relationship. You are not able to provide financially as much as before and your living standard as suffered.
Your answers to the 10-10-10 questions will be entirely different because everyone is different and their values affect how they see the various timeframes play out on their decisions.
The important part is to ask yourself how a decision affecting you right now will play out in the short-term, middle-term and in the long-term. Suzy says that the 10-10-10 doesn’t necessarily have to be 10 minutes, 10 months or 10 years. It the concept of the various timeframes that is important to consider when analyzing your decision.
I may think that staying in the relationship right now would be best for me, but would it still be best for me in 10 months and in 10 years? I’m able to analyze the long-term consequences of my decision using this method.
No longer are we governed by the pressure of the moment when you are using the 10-10-10 method. The 10-10-10 method gives us time to deliberate over the various timeframes and then act according to our personal values and analysis.
Try it out the 10-10-10 method and let me know if it helps you make better decisions for you.
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