I was one year gone from the AP when Pete was killed in a car crash. (His wife was gravely injured and died later.) But it was never lost on me that Pete was postponing life— for all the "right" reasons—at the time of his death. I still think about Pete. His life reminds me that while it's important to consider the long-term consequences of every 10-10-10 decision, they cannot be consistently more important than the short- and midterm. The far-off future often matters more than we give it credit for and should influence our thinking more than it usually does. But it should not trump all other time frame considerations, all the time.
If there is one piece of push back I receive about 10-10-10, it concerns timing and it generally goes like this: "I'm just too busy to do that kind of thing."
With life-changing decisions, it's true that 10-10-10 can take hours or longer to conduct. Later on, we will meet an advertising executive who leaned on 10-10-10 to help her decide what to do about her career after her son was diagnosed with a genetic mental illness. Because it required the gathering of medical opinions, her 10-10-10 decision unfurled over the course of two weeks.
Far more often, however, 10-10-10 slows you down just enough to get your decision right. It doesn't squander your time as much as invests it wisely.
Take Natalie, a tech company manager I met last year. Along with her busy job, Natalie tries to stay deeply present in the lives of her two teenage sons, both high school athletes, and her husband of eighteen years. Most days, she keeps all of her balls in the air, but when a new one gets tossed into the mix, sometimes unexpected decisions need to be made—quickly.
Natalie's uncle, Charlie, had never been a big part of her life, but when he passed away at the age of eightythree, Natalie felt more conflicted than she had expected about attending his funeral service. "I barely knew him. He was my mother's brother-in-law," she explained to me. "But I also knew that showing up would mean the world to my parents and the rest of my extended family. They would take it as a sign of respect."
With that realization, Natalie decided she needed to be at the ceremony. She made plans to leave work early, but just as she was about to head out the door, her fifteen-year old son text-messaged her. His lift to soccer practice had fallen through; could she help? Before Natalie could even react, another text message came in, this one from her husband. He had to stay late at work. Could she cover for him and drive their younger son to the orthodontist? "Well, there goes the funeral," Natalie groaned in frustration, picking up the phone to call her mother. But then she stopped. Why not, she reasoned, 10-10-10 the problem? She had learned about the process from another working mother, and had been using it ever since to sort out the kind of mini work-life balance conflicts that come with the territory.