10 10 10

It is the last day of a large, seven-day event and your building is in move-out strike mode. Your family is planning to have your first dinner together in more than a week. On top of that, your daughter has a dance recital tomorrow night that you’ve planned on for more than two months, and she has a smile on her face every time she asks if you are going and you say, “Yes.” The evening is wrapping up and the conversion crew has already clocked out for the night. You are elated because you are about to leave for home when a high-profile return client calls and is in an urgent pinch. They need to add a pop-up event starting tomorrow, and the room needs to be set tonight for the 6 a.m. breakfast, with many fine touches that they’ve come to be accustomed to. Not only that, but they have asked you to personally attend their pre-function and gala dinner on the next night, as their special invited guest. Your deputy is working the graveyard shift tonight, and there are labor calls already scheduled to be onsite tomorrow.

Sound familiar?

We all know that our jobs are as dynamic as they come, but this type of scenario comes up too many times to count. Do you decide to forgo the family dinner and stay to oversee the overnight set? Or do you go home as planned for the commitment you made to your family? And worse yet, you are faced with another decision. Do you agree to attend the VIP client dinner function tomorrow night so that you don’t disappoint your client, but then miss your daughter’s recital? Such choices are heart wrenching, and we’ve all been there.

Don’t you wish there was a way to hop in a DeLorean and go back in time or have another chance to make a choice? Well, I can’t promise you a Dr. Emmett Brown by your side, but I can impart a technique that I’ve learned that helps assess life decisions in life. Whether big or small, or professional or personal, this tool can guide you through the tough times of impasse.

10-10-10 = 10 minutes… 10 days… 10 years

It is actually very straightforward. Take the decision that is facing you, and it may sound too simple but … answer it. Simply choose a decision. But don’t worry—it doesn’t have to the “right” one, or even the one that you’re leaning toward. Any decision at this point will do.

Then ask yourself three questions:

  1. What will happen in the next 10 minutes?
  2. What will happen in the next 10 days? (this one can also be modified for 10 months, depending on the situation)
  3. What will happen in the next 10 years?

You will find that you can even use this technique with a spouse or loved one, as an extra way to communicate your thoughts to your significant other on a decision that may have impacts to your family.

So you decide to stay for the overnight setting of the room, for example. Ask yourself…

What happens in the next 10 minutes? You have to make the call to your family, to tell them you are not coming home and will miss dinner (again). You’ll still be home at some point, but probably after your family has gone to bed. On the other side of this, you now have the assurance that you will be directly working on the set and know that it’s done correctly and to your client’s standards. So there will be less loss of sleep over that being done incorrectly by someone else, and having to scramble to fix it in the morning.

What happens in the next 10 days? This one is a little tougher and will stretch your mind (and heart) more, so be prepared. The client was ecstatic on their breakfast meeting and says “they owe you one.” Maybe it even leads to another booking by this client because they now know you are truly dedicated and you’ve saved the day at work. On the other hand, your family feels a little more distant than before, even though you commit to being home for family dinners for the whole next month. You may not have had to see your children’s faces on the night you came home since they were already sound asleep, but now you’ve had several days of their sad faces and looks of disappointment from your significant other. They say that they understand and with a sigh, that there will be a “next time.”

What happens in 10 years from now? This one may be even tougher to ascertain in your crystal ball. Your kids are now grown and out of the house and onto college. You don’t see them very often, other than holidays and find that you relish any time you have with them. On the work side, maybe you’ve received a promotion, possibly because of your dedication and client service priorities. You have reinforced that particular client relationship over the years, and it has grown into a true working partnership and multiple revenue streams.

So with those three 10-10-10 questions answered, how do you feel about your decision? Do you feel good about it overall? Or are you fretting that you’ve made the wrong choice? If it’s the latter, then go through this same exercise for a different decision, and see the new outcome.

In reality, missing the one single family dinner that is used in this example is probably not going to create a monumental bump in the space-time continuum. But there’s also no doubt that multiple decisions like this may have a compounding effect.

The 10-10-10 tool may not be able to perfectly solve all of your life’s decisions, but consider it as an option when you get stuck in decision paralysis. And when all else fails, you can still try to find the DeLorean. FM

(Image: woodleywonderworks/Creative Commons)