67 - Introducing pause in rash decisions - the 10/10/10 method

08-06-2023

decision-making

If you find yourself making rash decisions or agonizing over decisions, this is for you.

Moments of raw emotion carry the power to make us feel obligated that we need to decide that very instant. And such moments come in all manner–from letting a bare wall tell you you need a bigger television to going back and forth on whether or not to propose to your partner of several years.

Finding you in the grip of such emotion, friends may advise you to ‘sleep on it’. Yet, sleep is scarce when faced with a tough choice. What you need is a ‘sleep-on-it’ strategy. Thankfully, there’s one. It’s called 10/10/10 and there’s a book on it by business writer Suzy Welch.

The hack in the strategy is to imagine your future emotional states before you decide. When you’re experiencing regret, you see the ‘what might have beens’. But what if you could consider consequences before the judgment and avoid any lapse.

Here’s a simple protocol to apply the 10/10/10 strategy.

1️⃣Set a tripwire: This is to recognize the emotional trigger. A stinker that just landed in your inbox, a tempting offer on the phone, your best friend who just got married to the man of her dreams. There are situations when you’re likely to be impulsive. You don’t need a definition for such situations; just go with how you feel inside. Feeling sick, angry, overwhelmed are trusty red flags.

2️⃣Take a timeout: Once the tripwire is activated, take a forced break as a rule. Don’t tell yourself you’re in control. You’re blind to your blindness. The timeout forces you to reflect.

3️⃣Time-travel: This is the main part where you take help from future-you to make a decision that present-you is likely to be rash about. You can evaluate your options using the 10/10/10 system. Ask:

‘What are the consequences of each of my options in 10 minutes? In 10 months? In 10 years?’

You can go with the bigness of the decision to decide the time frame. It could even be 10 minutes, 10 hours, and 10 days if it’s cheating on your diet that’s up for debate.

If you don’t get a clear answer from the future-you, Annie Duke, author of Thinking in Bets, suggests a great addition to the practice. Talk to your past-you. Ask: ‘How would I feel now if I had made this decision 10 minutes ago? 10 months ago? 10 years ago?’

Anticipating regret before it has happened may sound novel but is not. It is a (not so) simple matter of attaining distance before deciding. We do it every day, just not intentionally enough. Making a habit out of imagining regret can save us from going on guilt trips later by forcing us to reflect on the consequences of our actions ahead of time.

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