Use The 10-10-10 Decision-Making Method To Make Choices Easier
I am notoriously indecisive. When it comes to making decisions about pretty much anything in my life, I profoundly struggle.
So, when I heard about the 10-10-10 method, a practice devised by business author Suzy Welch, my interest was piqued. Welch says that many of the decisions we make are rooted in how we feel about something; we often only take into consideration the short-term impacts of what we choose.
The 10-10-10 method is a way of separating emotions from the decision-making process, and taking a step back to analyse the long- and short-term consequences of the choices we make. It’s fairly simple. Every time we make a decision, Welch advises, we should consider how we will feel about it in:
- 10 minutes
- 10 months
- and 10 years.
“This process… forces us to dissect and analyse what we’re deciding and why, and it pushes us to empathise with who we might become,” explains Welch. “It helps us decide whether or not it’s worth it to endure short-term flame-outs in the service of our larger, more deeply held goals in life.”
Knowing the week ahead would involve making some hefty career and life decisions, I decided (it’s already working!) to apply Welch’s rule to the conscious choices I made for the next seven days.
It’s a chilly London Monday morning, and I can’t face up to the idea of eating cereal for breakfast. I want a bagel instead. As I walk to work I ponder: how will I feel about this decision 10 minutes from when I make it? Good, I decide; I will be eating a bagel. In 10 months? I will not remember this decision. In 10 years? Forget about it. I go ahead with my bagel purchase.
Today I am faced with two major decisions. I’ve been applying for new jobs, and have had several promising interviews. My current boss sits me down for a meeting and offers me not only a promotion, but to sponsor me to stay in the UK beyond my current visa.
The promotion is a great opportunity. I’ll be given much more responsibility. But, my background is in magazines, and there’s a job I’ve been interviewing for at one of the biggest in the UK. Within 10 minutes of accepting this new position at my current company, I might regret losing the perks (travel, freebies) that come with magazine work. In 10 months I’ll probably be grateful that I took the promotion, as it will mean a higher salary and more responsibility. In 10 years, I’ll likely have a higher earning potential than I would in the flailing magazine industry. I accept the job.
In 10 years, I’ll likely have a higher earning potential than I would in the flailing magazine industry. I accept the job.
Mulling over the possibility of staying in London past the two years I initially planned is more difficult. In 10 minutes it won’t affect me. In 10 months I would have been packing my bags to head back to Australia, likely feeling as though I hadn’t seen enough of the UK or Europe, and forcing my partner to return as well. In 10 years I will be grateful for the opportunity to live in another country for an extended period of time. But, I will have missed time with my family and friends. As much as it kills me, with emotions set aside. I decide I will stay for two more years to enhance my future career prospects.
Big life decisions out of the way, it’s back to the smaller ones. Usually I walk to work to save money on public transport. I figure that the decision to catch the tube to work won’t affect me in the short- or long-term; I hop on a train and skip my morning coffee to make up for it.
I have a free Friday night. I could use it to catch up on freelance work, or use it to watch Netflix. In 10 minutes I’ll be enjoying the latest season of Stranger Things, in 10 months I’ll possibly regret missing a deadline and losing future work, and in 10 years the editor I have let down could be the hiring manager at another company and think I’m unreliable. I choose to write one article and then watch Netflix, and set aside time on Sunday to complete another.
My friends and I are trying to decide whether we should fork out for a roast at the pub. Within 10 minutes of buying the roast, I doubt I’ll feel bad about the decision; in 10 months my budget will have recovered and in 10 years I’m sure I’ll be fondly remembering eating roasts on chilly London Sundays. I go for the roast.
While this decision-making process did seem effective when it came to making life-changing decisions, for smaller choices it’s not as helpful. The best way to apply this process would be by allowing some flexibility in the timing.
Suzy Welch allows for this, saying “The name of the process is just a totem meant to directionally suggest time frames along the lines of: in the heat of the moment, somewhat later, and when all is said and done.”
If you take that bit of advice into consideration, and the idea of separating decision-making from your emotions, this could be an effective way to make some — but definitely not all — decisions. Trying the 10-10-10 method was definitely a great way to start thinking about my decisions more logically, and in a way which considers my future. That’s a life lesson which I can apply to big decisions from hereon.