He agreed. "I wasn't sorry or angry for a second," he told me recently. "I feel as if I did the right thing."
Today, Antoine continues to 10-10-10 any and all dilemmas that he encounters both at home and work. In fact, he recently shared the process with his mother, who, he says, immediately used it to make what could prove to be a transformative decision of her own. At the age of fifty-four, she's entered a training program in hopes of starting a small business someday. "I believe this is the beginning of a whole new life for my mother," Antoine says. "For the first time, I see her trying to create her own future."
ABOUT THAT THIRD 10
How exciting that new journey sounds. 10-10-10 does have a way of galvanizing people into forward-thinking action and out of a fixation on the present. But it would be a mistake to think that the only purpose of 10-10-10 is to clang long-term alarm bells during the decision-making process.
Yes, heightening your awareness of ten years out is one purpose of 10-10-10, and a very good one. All too often, we make decisions just to avoid an immediate ouch—the sulking child, the disappointed family, the complicated logistics, the angry coworkers, and so on. The third 10 in 10-10-10 has a powerful way of mitigating that tendency. It helps us decide whether (or not) it's worth it to endure short-term flame-outs in the service of our larger, more deeply held goals in life.
No one, however, should make every decision based on its consequences in the long term. First, such prudence is pretty much guaranteed to make your day-to-day life a total bore. You cannot banish spontaneity! But the main reason not to set your sights exclusively on the third 10 is that it can be too damn risky.
Pete Turkel taught me that.
Pete was an editor on the swing shift at the Associated Press back in the mid-1980s, when I was all of twenty-six years old and a reporter in the Boston bureau. At the time I met Pete, I was working the overnight shift myself, reporting for duty at midnight and released to freedom at 8 AM when, oddly enough, I found myself hungry for a burger and a beer. My skewed body clock was unpleasant enough, but at least I was still able to see friends and family at breakfast and dinner. Pete, who came in at 4 PM and left at midnight, missed everything. He was asleep when his kids left for school and his wife for work, and he was at work when they all came home, ate dinner, and went to bed.
One day, bitching and moaning about my own hours, I turned to Pete—twenty years my senior—and blurted out, "I don't know how you stand it. It's like you're living on another planet or something."
To this day, I admire Pete for not smacking me for my temerity. Instead he smiled in his familiar, good-hearted way. "You'll understand this when you're older, Suzy, and have real bills to pay and a family to raise," he said. "I'm paid a premium for working this shift. If I keep at this job, I'll be able to retire early, send my kids to college without loans, and buy a house with a dock on a lake. What I'm doing will be worth every minute of it when I walk out that door on my last day."