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Last fall I read the book 10-10-10: 10 Minutes, 10 Months, 10 Years, A Life-Transforming Idea, by Suzy Welch, and my entire family picked up another powerful tool that changed the way we make decisions in all areas of our lives.
The concept is to make decisions by deliberately considering their consequences in the immediate present, near term, and distant future.
It is a reliable and methodical way to arrive at a sound decision that really works, yet takes into consideration your emotions, feelings, and values.
Here’s how to make better purchasing decisions with the power of 10-10-10
Begin with a question. You’ll want to define and refine this so you know exactly what problem you want to fix.
Recently I had had it with our side-by-side refrigerator. It came with the house we bought last year and runs just fine, but it doesn’t hold much, particularly in the freezer section. I began to dream about a shiny new French door model, and actually shopped a bit with my husband, but then caught myself. What problem was I trying to solve?
After doing some brainstorming, I realized the problem was more about my irritation and dislike of side-by-sides because I have to be more careful about how much I purchase or cook so I do have room to store it.
The question then became this: Can we buy a refrigerator we’ll love, that will meet our needs, that is within our budget?
Move onto the information collection to determine options.
For us, that meant figuring out what our optimum storage needs would be and gathering information on pricing. It also meant looking at buying used, as well as what it meant to keep our existing fridge.
Determine the short and long term effect of each option.
This is where the 10-10-10 comes in. The first 10 is the present and could represent today, tomorrow, next week.
The second is that point in the foreseeable future when the initial reaction to your decision has passed but its consequences continue to play out in ways you can reasonably predict. This could be 10 days, 13 weeks, 8 months, depending on your situation.
The final 10 is quite a distance out—so you’ll estimate the effects in more vague terms.
We determined the effects of our options thusly:
The present: We’d have an awesome new fridge that went way over budget, or we’d buy a used one and stay under budget, or we’d keep the one we have until it dies. We’d have plenty of space for storage if we bought something different.
Near future: In about a year, the effect is still the same, although each passing year means the existing unit could stop working. If we bought new, we may really need that money we had to take out of another part of the budget to cover the shortfall in the refrigerator budget, and that might create some hardship.
Future: In five years, we wonder how our need for storage may change, especially since we’ve had closer to three to four persons living here most of the time rather than just the two of us. Also, we’d like to remodel the kitchen and realize the plan would have to work around the newer refrigerator. If we wait, we can save more money and buy what we want and need, assuming the existing unit lasts. That’s a calculated risk we’re willing to take.
Analyze the information alongside your values
Once we started to analyze the effects in concert with our values, the decision was incredibly easy to make.
Living within a budget has given us so much more peace of mind and freedom than we used to have because we are not spending endlessly and mindlessly.
We deeply value our debt freedom, our commitment to be wiser with our finances, and to be great role models for our family.
I wanted a new refrigerator, I did not need a new refrigerator.
We already owned a good used refrigerator, so we decided buying another used one at this time was silly.
We weren’t willing to buy a new refrigerator unless we loved it and it met our current and potential future needs, and we couldn’t do that in the budget we had.
So, the old refrigerator still hums along in the kitchen, but I don’t hate it anymore.
I love that it runs the way it should so that we can continue to save towards a different one down the road.
Sound decisions create a life you love and can live with
When you make your decisions using this process, you will come away with a solution that really works and with which you are really comfortable.
Every time each of us uses 10-10-10, we are thrilled with how it slows the adrenaline rush to buy just enough so you can make a decision that works for today and for your future.
Once you start using 10-10-10, you’ll discover it can be applied in all areas of your life including work, friend and family relationships and responsibilities, marriage and parenting, and finances, and eventually becomes an automatic part of your decision making process.
I highly recommend reading the book for more information and insight!
Comment: What decision can 10-10-10 help you make today?