10-10-10 Decision Making — Prioritize and Make Better Decisions


“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

A friend shared a simple technique for improving decision making and helping prioritize.

It’s 10-10-10, by Suzy Welch.

You basically test your decisions against time frames to make better decisions.

You can use it to improve decisions at work, life, business, love or anything really.

By testing your decisions against different time frames, you expose your needs, fears, desires, and unconscious agendas.  This can help you identify and live to your deepest goals and values.

How To Use 10-10-10 Decision Making

To use 10-10-10 for decision making, you can simply ask yourself 3 questions:

  • Question 1. What are the consequences of my decision in 10 minutes?
  • Question 2. What are the consequences of my decision in 10 months?
  • Question 3. What are the consequences of my decision in 10 years?

It’s that simple.  Asking these questions helps you quickly assess how relevant or important something is from a time standpoint.   And time often changes what’s important, or how important it is.

Use 10-10-10 Decision Making to Evaluate the Impact on the Future

What I like about the approach is its simple and question driven.  What I also like about the technique is that it’s an effective way to practice temporal skills.

As a project leader, I have to constantly evaluate my decisions against the future impact.  In fact, I would say that leading projects has forced me to develop my anticipation and temporal skills.

When you’re in it for the long-haul, you stop taking short cuts and you go for sustainable results, which means living your values, playing to your strengths, following your passions, and weighting the impact of choices over time.

You Might Also Like

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How To Prioritize with Criteria and Weight


Photo by greeblie.


  1. Hi J.D.
    Once again, you are The Test Master.
    Great tips, I will try it sometime.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Giovanna Garcia
    Imperfect Action is better than No Action

  2. Hi J.D.,
    And this all sounds so simple – three questions! And because it’s simple, it’s also easy to do. And that’s the recipe for something that can “stick”. I’ll try it out!

  3. Hi JD,

    Great advice which is very simple yet powerful. So many times people are unaware that their choices have consequences. What we do in this moment determines the next moment. 🙂

  4. Hi JD

    I’m always in need of help with decision-making. My biggest downfall tends to be getting stuck on the “when is the best time to do it”.

    I’ll give this one a go.


  5. Wow, this is great! I’ve never really thought about it like that before, but those are three excellent questions to ask when making a decision.

  6. I was just spending some time readling one of John Maxwell’s books yesterday that spoke about the 1% idea. That 1% idea is that many small things add up to really large things. The difficult problem with this is that if the 1% ideas are not aligned you end up doing a lot of random work without accomplishing anything. I am thinking that by using the 10/10/10 test it would be a quick test to focus the energy in choosing the right 1%’s.

  7. @ Giovanna

    I’m a fan of testing results. I’m often surprised by what works, and what doesn’t.

    @ Lance

    You’re right – simple is definitely what helps makes things stick.

    @ Nadia

    It’s like a chain of dominoes. It seems like a little reflection goes a long way.

    @ Juliet

    You’re asking the right question. Many things do have an expiration date, and some things have better windows of opportunity than others. One question that helps me is, “what’s the next best thing for me to do?”

    @ Positive Present

    Good things really do come in small packages. I like the fact that the 3 questions can have dramatically different answers.

    @ Jeremy

    Beautiful point. I remember the 1% idea, and you’re right, the 10/10/10 is a great way to focus and prioritize.

    @ Fred

    I like the fact it’s quick and cuts right to the chase. It’s amazing how many things don’t matter in 10 months or 10 years. The 10 year one really shines the light on what sort of things would be highlights in your life.

    @ Alik

    Perspective really changes everything. The better your perspective, the better you’re equipped for better choices.

  8. A very successful CIO with whom I formerly worked uses a similar approach. My current customer distills it down to this: How will this affect my W-2 (clever, but not quite as useful).

  9. […] 10-10-10 Decision Making […]

  10. […] (and maybe you should too?) start using this principle when pondering decisions. Suzy Welch’s 10-10-10 principle is based on these 3 questions: What are the consequences of my decision in 10 minutes? What are the […]

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