Usually 10/10/10 will help you make a tough decision
Usually 10/10/10 will help you make a tough decision

You no longer have to torment and procrastinate.

Usually 10/10/10 will help you make a tough decision
Usually 10/10/10 will help you make a tough decision

When faced with a difficult question, it is difficult to think about the future. You are blinded by circumstances, you are stuck in agonizing uncertainty, you change your mind several times a day. In such a state, the worst option is to succumb to emotions. Such decisions, made in the heat of anger, desire, or anxiety, are usually the ones people regret the most. How nice it would be to have a cancel button for them!

But we don't have to be slaves to our emotions. Even the most intense feelings pass. Therefore, they say that it is better to postpone an important decision until the morning, because the morning is wiser than the evening. This is good advice, but not always enough. We need a strategy.

Susie Welch, a business writer and former editor-in-chief of the Harvard Business Review, found the right tool for this - the 10/10/10 rule. It helps you evaluate a solution from three time perspectives. To do this, you need to answer three questions:

  • How will I feel 10 minutes after making a decision?
  • And in 10 months?
  • And in 10 years?

Such questions help to distance yourself from the emotions that are overwhelming at the moment.

A good example of how this rule works is the situation of our friend Annie, who was worried about her relationship with a man named Karl. They had been dating for nine months. According to Annie, Karl is a wonderful person with whom she would like to connect her life. But she was worried that their relationship was not moving forward. Annie wanted to have kids, and at 36 she felt like she didn't have much time left to develop relationships that might go nowhere. During these nine months, she never met Karl's daughter from her first marriage, and none of the couple has yet said "I love you."

Karl went through a terrible divorce and was afraid to start a new serious relationship. After parting with his ex-wife, he decided to keep his daughter away from his personal circumstances. Annie understood all this and sympathized, but it hurt her that such an important part of his life was closed to her.

As Annie and I spoke, she was about to embark on her first long journey with Karl. The woman wondered if she should take the next step herself this weekend. She knew Karl was slow to make decisions. (“He has been thinking for three years whether he should buy a smartphone.”) So maybe she should tell her that she loves him?

We offered Annie the 10/10/10 method and asked her to imagine what would happen if she confessed to Karl this coming weekend. Here are her answers:

  • After 10 minutes: "I will be worried, but proud of myself for taking this risk and talking about my feelings."
  • After 10 months: “I don't think I will regret it. Naturally, I want us to succeed. But water does not flow under a lying stone, does it? "
  • After 10 years: “No matter how he reacts, in 10 years it won't matter. By that time, we will either be together for a long time, or I will be with someone else. "

With the 10/10/10 rule, the solution was simple: Annie should take the initiative. She will be proud of the attempt she made and will not regret it, even if the relationship does not work out in the end. Before that, the situation seemed much more complicated: fear, excitement and fear of hearing a refusal made it difficult to make a decision.

A few months later, we asked Annie what happened during that trip, and this is what she said: “I said I love him. I really try to change the situation so as not to feel in such a limbo … Karl did not say that he loves me too, but in general there is progress in the relationship, and I believe that he just needs a little more time to overcome his fear. I'm glad that I took the risk, and I will not regret my deed, even if in the end we do not work out with him. I think now the probability of staying together is about 80%."

What we feel right now is experienced vividly and sharply, but the future seems rather vague. Because of this, the present gains too much power over us. The 10/10/10 rule forces us to shift the focus from the present to the future.

This does not mean that you need to ignore short-term emotions. They often make it clear what you want out of the situation. But don't let them guide you.

The 10/10/10 rule is useful in any area. For example, you have been planning to have a difficult conversation with a colleague for a long time, but hesitated. Yes, 10 minutes after the conversation, you are likely to feel stressed. But imagine how you will feel in 10 months and 10 years. Surely you will be glad that you have resolved this conflict, and maybe even learn a useful lesson from it.

So, when faced with a difficult decision or the urge to postpone a case for later, answer these three questions. You will find that your momentary emotions are not the only voice worth listening to.

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