Keeping healthy is not easy – every minute there is another choice. What should I have for lunch? What time should I go to bed? Is it OK to have a second glass of wine? Can I skip the flu shot this year? In the abstract, the answers are clear but it’s not so easy to make a quick decision at the time. Suzy Welch has devised a way to evaluate these decisions: the rule of 10-10-10.
What are the consequences of my decision in 10 minutes? In 10 months? And in 10 years?
A very simple example: should I have a piece of cake for dessert? Let’s say that it’s your child’s birthday party and there is a Carvel ice cream cake. You have just served fifteen people and there is melted ice cream everywhere. Most of the kids didn’t finish their serving and you are busy wiping hands to minimize the mess. Should you have a piece? You feel you need a reward and ten minutes later you justify the treat. Who doesn’t like ice cream? In 10 months, you still haven’t lost the last few pounds. And in 10 years? Who remembers an individual Carvel cake? There are plenty more in the store, and you have been to dozens of birthday parties.
Another birthday party, your own. You and your special someone have been planning a trip to a destination restaurant for months. The dinner was exquisite. When the waiter hands you the dessert menu you defer, still thinking of those last few pounds. So what if the pastry chef is world-renowned. Ten minutes later you feel virtuous. Ten months later you are still thinking about your missed opportunity. Ten years later you realize that how silly you were.
In the first instance, skipping the cake would have been the right decision. In the second case, skipping the cake was wrong, wrong, wrong.