Need perspective? Try 10/10/10


Whether you’re deciding what to cook for dinner or when to plan a beach trip or should you buy a new car, there are processes to help you. I’ve been reading several in Chip Heath and Dan Heath’s book Decisive.

One strategy they recommend is: Attain some distance before deciding. (It’s the “A” of their WRAP strategy.) Don’t base your decision on short-term emotions only (well, maybe on supper plans you can; time does matter there).

How? Use 10/10/10.

It’s three questions you ask yourself (and it’s also a book by Suzy Welch, its inventor). It puts your decision in three different time frames:

  • How will I feel about it 10 minutes from now?
  • How about 10 months from now?
  • How about 10 years from now?

I’m currently trying to decide about a mission trip this fall to Guatemala.

  • In the heat of the moment, if I say, “Yes!” I’ll be excited, but also a little anxious about details to work through.
  • In ten months from now, if I decided yes to go, I’ll have had a new experience with God that I’ll still be working through and some new friends as well. If I decided not to go, no change except more money in the bank.
  • And ten years from now? It’ll either be a memory of something I recommend (or not!), or I won’t even remember it was an option.

I have more prayer and conversations ahead before I make a final decision, but this framework of putting things into perspective does help.

* * *

What helps you make decisions? Have you tried this approach before? I’d love to hear.

26 thoughts on “Need perspective? Try 10/10/10

  1. Dianna

    I’ve not heard of the 10/10/10 method before, but it certainly sounds like something that is worth a try. The closest I’ve come to it in decision making would be if I have to have an answer NOW, it is no. Oh my goodness…how many times I’ve said yes in the excitement of the moment and then 20 minutes later said to myself, “what have I gotten myself into?” Thanks for sharing, Lisa!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I like that philosophy too, Dianna. If I’m being pushed too hard into saying yes, I’ll likely say no. (But not always with wisdom; sometimes it’s just that I’m too rebellious…God’s still working on me with that.)

  2. Linda@Creekside

    Lisa … I LOVE these little questions! I’m tucking them in my pocket and will be sharing them with the women I talk with. So simple, yet so very profound.

    P.S. I can’t wait to hear what you decide, friend!


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Sometimes it’s the simple things that can affect me the most (maybe because it’s easier for me to remember the simple things? ha). I’ll let you know what I decide; hopefully it will be soon.

  3. Davy S

    I am not good at making decisions, so 10/10/10 sounds like a good strategy. I also like what Dianna said about saying no if a decision has to be made immediately. Thanks for sharing your post on Winsome Wednesday.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think many of us struggle with making decisions, Davy, or at least with certain kinds of decisions. So I try to be open to new strategies. I appreciate you deciding to stop by today. πŸ™‚

  4. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    In the past I’ve tended to make decisions quickly, without a lot of introspection. I used a quick risk-reward calculation, and then made the choice.

    Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.

    Now I tend to look at decisions in terms of what the needed payoff is, and when it has to happen. A decision taken to solve an urgent situation NOW may have ramifications later…and later is when I’ll deal with them if the ‘now’ is critical.

    I like the 10/10/10 approach, but it’s probably not for me. I may not be here in ten months; and certainly I don’t have a ten year horizon!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Honestly, I’m still fighting against accepting that you might not be here in 10 months, Andrew. πŸ™ But realistically, who knows which of us may or may not be? Nonetheless, I need to be realistic about your prognosis, and thus I want to keep listening to your words of wisdom while you are here to share them. I think something deep awakens in us when we realize there’s a clock ticking.

  5. Kristin Hill Taylor

    I love the way 10/10/10 helps give perspective. I’m going to remember that one when I need to make a decision, which will probably be in about 5 minutes. πŸ™‚ I’m glad I linked up near you at #TellHisStory today.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’ve probably had to make many decisions since you left this comment, Kristen. πŸ™‚ I wonder how many we make in a day, consciously or unconsciously…. I’m glad too that we both decided to link up at #TellHisStory about the same time this morning.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      The closest I’ve come to using this approach in the past is this tried-and-true question: “In 100 years, will it matter?” It’s still something I like to ask myself to help gain perspective. And most of the time the answer is no.

  6. Ceil

    Hi Lisa! I love your meme. What a great question to ask! I have been so guilty of snap decisions in my life, and they rarely turn out well. Making some space between myself and the decision is a really good idea.

    I hope that whatever you decide with your mission trip opportunity, you will have peace with it. And I really commend you for waiting a bit and praying. I know you’ll come to the right choice.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It’s interesting to me how some people make decisions so slowly and other people make them so quickly. I once dated a guy who decided things so quickly that it made my head spin. ha. (We didn’t last very long.)

      It’s sometimes hard to find a middle ground with when is the right time to pull the trigger. I think I’m dragging my feet a little too much on the mission decision. I probably should set a deadline for myself. Thanks for your encouragement about it.

  7. Trudy

    Sounds like a good approach, Lisa. Thanks for sharing it. A few months ago a woman in Bible Study asked how a person KNOWS God wants us to go. By experience, someone responded that sometimes we just have to keep praying and waiting, and if it’s meant to be, God will open the doors and/or show us in your heart what to do. I think it takes quite a leap of faith whether sure or not. Praying God will guide you and give you wisdom in this decision, Lisa.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks for your prayers, Trudy, and for passing along that wisdom. I’m sitting here thinking that the doors are open right now, so maybe that’s what I need to go on….

  8. Sharon

    I like this advice! First of all, I am not very good at making decisions. I’m always afraid that I’m going to make the wrong one. And even if I’m able to *pull the trigger* – I always have second thoughts! A few years ago we did a house remodel. It was a nightmare for me – too many decisions, too many afterthoughts!! Usually I ask for the opinions of people I trust, and that helps me.

    One of the hardest decisions I have had to make was two years ago. My husband wanted to move out of the city. I’d lived in the same house, same city for 29 years, and it wasn’t a decision that I came to easily. I kept wondering, and praying desperately – wanting to do what God wanted us to do. Finally, hearing no definitive “No” – we moved forward, trusting that God would stop us if it wasn’t His will. Sometimes I think He reveals His will after we start walking!!


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I like things simple, so something like a house remodel would drive me crazy too. When we built our house, we made many of the lesser-important decisions quickly just to get them over with. ha. It is definitely a blessing to help people we can ask for help in making our decisions. I have a few go-to people that I love to get opinions from.

      Moving to a new city after 29 years is something I can’t even imagine. Wow–that was definitely a huge decision. But I love your conclusion that sometimes God reveals his will AFTER we start walking in faith. Hmm…I need to think on that now and then put on my walking shoes! Thanks, Sharon. Good advice.

  9. Mary

    I like this philosophy! Sometimes I ask myself, “will it matter next week, next month or next year?” before making a decision. Amazing how my answer changes when viewed through that lens.

    This is a tough week for me friend…you know what I mean.


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That’s cool that you intuitively do this already. I hope I’ll remember to ask myself these questions more often now. When they’re really big decisions I tend to, but those kind don’t come around TOO often (thank God). But even in smaller things, I need to consider all kinds of perspective.

      I do know exactly what you mean about the week…. Love you!

  10. Beverley

    I am living in panic mode right now, not sure why but i only seem to be able to cope if i make the decision. However i have a good friend, who actually lives in Luxembourg now and yet she is often in the area visiting family and although i knew she was due for a visit, i didn’t know it was this week. But on Tues i received a text from her asking if i would like to go to lunch today. My first reaction was panic and a need to come up with some excuse as to why i couldn’t, but i am really glad that a waited a little while, calmed myself down and said yes, because i had a fantastic day, spent too much money in a wool shop i am now in love with but my lovely daughters will have some treats from Grandma. Sometimes we do need to pause and think – they do teach this principle at the mental health group Mind, which i sometimes attend. I think it is a good thing!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad you had a good visit with your friend, Beverley! And found a sweet wool shop as part of it.

      Having a little time to make a decision is usually helpful for me too. I can feel flustered if I have to decide on the spot. I think that’s one reason I like texting versus phone calls–it gives me a little bit more breathing space to think about my reply.

  11. David

    Dear Lisa

    I’ll pray that you make the right decision (for you) about Guatemala πŸ˜€ Sorry if that’s gauche. I’m full of beginner’s enthusiasm (and praying is one of my biggest treats).

    Supper plans: bad idea to rush there imho. We try and make a menu for the week to come at the weekend. When we manage that, the week’s food is better, and making it is less stressful (e.g., I generally work at home on Wednesdays, so we make sure I have all the ingredients ready for something that will last a few days).

    I like the idea of distance – or of thinking about my future self.


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I feel very honored that you’ll pray for my decision, David. I love this: “praying is one of my biggest treats.” That is a wonderful enthusiasm to treasure and keep.

      You’re right about supper plans. Sigh. I used to make weekly plans, but now I’m back in the night-to-night rut, and it’s not good. It takes discipline to plan ahead, but it is worth it. Thanks for the push; I need to get started back with that.

  12. Pat Baer

    What a clever, easy to remember formula. It puts a tidy frame around the decision making process with healthy perimeters to reason within. I love it.
    Looking back I can see many decisions I’ve made that would have benefited from a delayed response or this kind of analysis. Often a decision is made strictly from an ethical standpoint which isn’t necessarily the only criteria for deciding something.
    I’ll be sharing your perspective. Thanks for the well written tips.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad this speaks to you, too, Pat. I thought it was a handy way to get perspective on a decision. So many factors go into our choices, but looking at perspective in the short term, middle term, and long term is definitely something we don’t need to leave out.

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