Thursday, April 16, 2009


I'd have to put "I need help making decisions" on my Top 5 Reasons People Come to Therapy list. Whether it's a newly separated woman who isn't used to making decisions on her own, or the man who keeps ending up in jobs he hates, knowing how to make decisions in the absence of a crystal ball is tricky.

Suzy Welch has come up with a shorthand for evaluating decisions in her new book, "10-10-10." It's a simple method where you take your options and evaluate the impact of each in 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years. When I first read the idea, I thought, "She can fill a whole book with that?" Thinking of the long-term implications of your decisions seems, sort of, well, obvious.

But there's more to it. The real message here is how to take stock of your values and make decisions based on what's important in your life. Welch acknowledges the many pressures people face trying to balance work, family, and personal needs. She gives examples of times when she put up with some difficult shorter-term situations (like one example of putting up with sexual harrassment from co-workers) in order to reach longer range goals at work. You might not agree with her decision to put up with it, but at least you understand why she did it. (10 minutes of it might have sucked, but in 10 years - look - she's got a column in O magazine. Can't argue with that).

The best part of Welch's book is the many engaging stories she tells about people torn between aging parents, career concerns, partners and kids. It's interesting to follow each subject's reasoning, and realize that while I might make different choices, my choices are a direct reflection of my values (most of the time), and that was reassuring to realize.

Welch offers the idea that using 10-10-10 to make decisions will avoid regrets, which is probably unrealistic. Still, I will definitely recommend this book to clients wanting to live a more authentic life by aligning their decisions with their values.

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