Smarter Decisions [10-10-10 Rule]
SUPERHUMAN SCORE: 8.5
Written by: Ben Meer | April 30, 2023
Long-term thinking is a superpower. How to overcome instant gratification with the 10-10-10 Rule.
Popularized by author Suzy Welch, the 10-10-10 Rule is a simple yet effective decision-making strategy.
Before making a decision (big or small), ask yourself: “How will I feel about this decision in 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years?”
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Second-order thinking helps you consider the potential impacts of a decision beyond the immediate and obvious consequences.
It’s especially useful when there’s a bias toward instant gratification. The reason? Second-order thinking will help you think through time. You can take a wider lens and get perspective.
As I learned from Farnam Street, many extraordinary things in life are first-order negative and second-order positive.
For example, starting a new workout regimen. It's painful at first, with little instant gratification (negative). But there IS a long-term health payoff (positive).
Another instance might be a difficult conversation (short-term pain) that would free you from a so-so or toxic relationship (long-term payoff).
Incorporating the 10-10-10 Rule into your decision-making process can help prioritize your values & goals. If you ever feel stuck in a decision, choose the favorable option at 10 months and 10 years.
Note: Sometimes, you can even get positive checks in all three time horizons! Like with a nutritious and delicious lunch.
1. Grab a pen and paper (digital notes also work).
2. Create 3 columns across the top of the page: 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years.
3. Write down how you will feel about the decision across these 3 time zones. Consider the impact on your health, relationships, and finances.
I recommend following the journaling exercise above to build the habit of the 10-10-10 Rule. Writing it down is particularly helpful for big and difficult decisions.
Over time, you’ll internalize this process. Then, with practice, you can filter decisions through the framework in your head—with greater consistency and speed.
BRINGING IT HOME
One of my favorite quotes:
“Your life is the sum result of all the choices you make, both consciously and unconsciously. If you can control the process of choosing, you can take control of all aspects of your life.”-Robert F Bennett.
The promise of the 10-10-10 Rule? To help you better control the process of choosing—to create the life you want.
All systems go,
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