10-10-10 Rule

Benefit: Better decisions


The 10/10/10 is the framing of the outcome of a decision across three timeframes:

  • How will the user feel about the outcome 10 minutes from now?
  • How about 10 months from now?
  • How about 10 years from now?

The answers to these questions provide a different perspective and usually help the user to find the correct answer without being misguided by circumstances at the time of making the decision.


  1. Think of a decision you’re going to make.
  2. Write down how you feel for after
    • 10 minutes from now
    • 10 months from now
    • 10 years from now


When I was 22, I had just moved to NYC, and I was trying to start my career by landing an interview on Wall Street. Of course, it was imperative for me to dress the part to land the job. With a rapidly evaporating savings account, I knew for a fact that I couldn’t afford a new suit.

I was presented with a dilemma: I could stay in every weekend and start saving up enough to buy the suit… or I could buy the suit by getting a credit card (while enjoying the city life), and hope to pay it off eventually.

Here’s how the 10:10:10 method played out when I thought about buying on credit:

  • How will I feel 10 minutes after buying the suit with a credit card?

I’ll feel good about myself! I don’t want my weekends to be defined by one purchase, and I don’t want to spend my life scrounging pennies.

  • How will I feel 10 months after buying on credit?

If I land a job by then, I’ll be glad I got to enjoy my weekends! But if I don’t, I’ll have to worry about paying off that dress (and not having any income).

  • How will I feel 10 years after buying on credit?

Either way, I’ll (hopefully!) have a job by then. If it takes me a while to land a job, though, I know that credit card debt can snowball very quickly, and I could end up regretting pilling on debt for years to come.

Sure enough, I lived very frugally for a while and saved up to buy the suit, and although I did land a job fairly quickly, I avoided going into debt in the process. And, as I learned, job security on Wall Street isn’t the best, so I was very happy about the extra cash cushion I had built up in case the job didn’t pan out.