From Where I Sit – 10-10-10

Because my mind and soul are promised to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for several more days, my ability to generate my own column topic this week was kaput. So when someone suggested I discuss the concept in Suzy Welch’s book 10-10-10, I jumped on it. My task became to read the book and hope that through the miracle of osmosis the underlying message would become an integral part of my life?and a great column, too.

Many how-to or self-improvement books take forever to get to the promised ?secret? to success. The hype eventually builds to a crescendo, but even so there’s a 50/50 chance it isn’t as promised.

In Welch’s book you get the gist of the three-step process right up-front?on ages 10 and 11. Further refinements are discussed on page 63, but the remaining 200-some pages are filled with real-life stories of men and women using this decision-making tool in all aspects of their lives.

So what is 10-10-10? First, some background. Suzy Welch, a career-driven mother of four in an unhappy marriage, had a meltdown and needed a solution. Through trying to resolve problems in her own life she developed a deceptively simple process, one which can be applied to love, career, parenting, and other decisions.

In a nutshell:

? Pose your problem in the form of a question. For example: Should I change jobs? Should I marry so-and-so? Should I work late or attend the school recital?

? Collect data?in your head, on paper, on the computer, or in dialogue with someone. Here you are considering the consequences of your options in the context of 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years. There is nothing literal or magical about the 10s; if you prefer, think of them as right now, the foreseeable future, and the distant future.

? Analyze your answers in conjunction with your values (or beliefs, goals, dreams, and needs) and decide which option best serves you in creating the life you want.

Let’s pretend I had used 10-10-10 in late October to decide: Should I take part in National Novel Writing Month?

Ten minutes: No. Easier not to, save the required planning time, don’t risk failure, save the financial donation, don’t mess with my routine. Yes. Get caught up in the madness of the challenge, spend a few bucks, risk success, kick-start a new routine, join the club. On the other hand, definitely harder.

Ten months: No. Means I walked away from a potential game-changer because I didn’t test myself, didn’t inconvenience myself. Yes. Mucho bragging rights, potential for a new work ethic, proof positive that I can do what I set my mind to, great time saver in creating honking big first draft, possible saleable product after revisions.

Ten years: No. Lost opportunity, maybe still wondering if I coulda/shoulda. Yes: Anywhere from zero to nine more NaNoWriMo novels to my credit, pride of accomplishment, enduring e-book sales of backlist titles.

Three weeks in, I’m thrilled I said yes. But doing 10-10-10 before the decision would have been preferable, from where I sit.