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Make better long term decisions with this simple tip

In the last year we have had to make a lot of decisions.

Do we accept the job and move from Germany to New York?

Do we put our son in public or private school?

What car do we buy?

Should we rent or buy a house?

The list of decisions seemed endles. Some had big consequences, some were on a much smaller scale. Some had emotional value, like the decision to attend my grandparents’ 65th weding anniversary or not, at the cost of one very expensive airplane ticket to The Netherlands.

The more emotional the decision, the harder it is to get the right perspective. Imagine having to choose between attending a funeral or making an important presentation at work that may get you the promotion at your job you’ve been working for for years. Which do you choose?


I recently read a book that gave a very simple tip to make better long term decisions. It’s called the 10/10/10 approach. Here’s how it works: imagine how you will feel about your decision in ten minutes, in ten months, and in ten years.

Let’s take the decision to fly to The Netherlands for my grandparent’s 65th wedding anniversary. We had wanted to go as a family, but unfortunately the anniversary was not during a school break and we couldn’t keep our son out of school that long. That meant I would have to go by myself. But was it worth it?

The tickets were expensive, plus I would have to arrange for child care since my husband had to work. So I did the 10/10/10 analysis. In ten minutes I would still be on the fence, doubting whether I had made the right decision. In ten months, my grandparents could have very well been with the Lord, as my granddad is 93 and my grandma 88. If I had never seen them again before their deaths, I would have felt heart broken to have missed this. And in ten years, they would definitely be gone and I would be so grateful to have spent those last moments with them, celebrating their faith to God and to each other. Plus it would be one of the last opportunities to see my whole family together, since my grandparents are what brings us together. So I decided to go.

I am absolutely convinced I made the right decision, despite the costs. And when I had decided to go, my husband decided to take that week off to have some time for himself, and to be there for our son after school. I had an amazing week in The Netherlands and was able to say goodbye to my grandparents, knowing we would probably not see each other again on this side of eternity.

Now, six months later, I know we made the right decision. The costs did not matter as much as being there for them, for my family, and for myself.

If you have long term decisions to make, especially ones that have emotional components, try the 10/10/10 approach. It will help you get a better long term perspective, instead of giving too much weight to the short term negative consequences. They may feel emotionally ‘heavier’, but taking the time to think about how you feel feel ten months, or ten years from now will help you give them the appropriate emotional weight.

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