The Power of 10
Stuck at a decisions crossroad? Try the rule of 10-10-10 to solve your dilemma
For 11 years, I’ve been struggling with the daily challenges of trying to do it all as a working mother-of-three juggling multiple hats. Like many women, I want it all – I want to be there for my kids; I want to do work that feeds my soul and still put enough in the bank so that one day, I’ll be able to save enough to treat my folks to a holiday; I want to be the perfect wife for my husband; I want to hang out with my bosom buddies and be that girlfriend that you can always count on; I want to be fit enough to attempt an Ironman 70.3 someday; I want to engage in activities that enable me to grow as a person and feel fulfilled – and I want to look amazing while I’m doing it all.
The reality however, looks nothing quite like the picture I’ve painted in my head. Life isn’t tidy, and it rarely unfolds exactly the way we envision it to. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it is to embrace the (happy) chaos that has been introduced into my life, ever since the arrival of my firstborn.
We all have just 24 hours in a day. There’s only so much we can do before something gives – something always has to give when you go over your bandwidth. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I cannot do it all, simply because it’s not humanly possible. I’ve had some hard lessons along the way, including the loss a friendship that once upon a time, had meant the world to me.
Sometimes, we win…
Sometimes, we learn…
In this accelerated world that we live in today, I’ve learned that because of the lack of time and resources, there will always be hard choices that I have to make, and things that I’ll have to give up as a result of my choices. However, many poor decisions tend to stem from the result of stress and guilt, rather than a lack of knowledge or understanding. And this is where the 10-10-10 method has come in really handy for me. I picked it up a few years ago from the self-help book 10-10-10: A Life Transforming Idea by Suzy Welch, and while it is not an instant solution to all my problems, 10-10-10 allows me to make values-driven choices that I want to live by, enabling me to cultivate the peace of mind that comes with living intentionally.
If you’re wondering how the 10-10-10 method works, consider this scenario: you’ve had a major fallout with your best friend and you’ve sworn never to talk to her again – what do you do next? The following three questions will help you to hush the noise so that your mind can see what it needs to:
In 10 minutes
Ask yourself what the immediate consequences of your actions will be… In 10 minutes time, you’ll probably still be stinging from the fight and feeling like you’re better off going separate ways since you can’t see eye to eye.
In 10 months
Contemplate the emotional, physical, and financial impact of your decision. After about a year’s time, the dust would have settled, and any hard feelings from the past may be long forgotten. Sure, you may have moved on and gotten really busy with life and kids. But by the same token, you would likely also be missing your best friend and the good times you used to have together.
And in 10 years
A decade later, you may be looking at a big black hole – best friend gone, along with your grown up kids. The pangs of regret may hit you hard then, and would that be an outcome you’re willing to accept? Consider how your current options will affect you and your loved ones in the long-term, and decide whether the long-run benefits outweigh the short-term damage. In the end, it is the answer to this last question that may have the greatest impact on your life.
It’s important to make sure that you’re not basing too many decisions on a particular time frame – for example, if you’re responding mostly to 10-minute consequences, you may be living too impulsively. Be patient and stay calm if answers don’t come to you right away. It is better to stop and slowly consider all your options, than to make snappy judgments that you may regret later.