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The 10-10-10 Analysis and How It’s Changing My Life

The 10-10-10 Analysis

Do you have a difficult time making wise decisions, especially when the answer is expected within a really quick time frame? I recently discovered the 10-10-10 analysis for making wise decisions that Alli Worthington talks about in her book Breaking Busy, and I love it.

In her book, Alli talks about how important decision making is in our lives. First, she quotes Andy Stanley with this really challenging thought:

“Direction — not intentions, hopes, dreams, prayers, beliefs, intellect, or education — determines destination. I know it’s tempting to believe that our good intentions, aspirations, and dreams somehow have the ability to do an end run around the decisions we make on a daily basis. However, you and I will win or lose in life by the paths we choose.”

From there, Alli follows with her thoughts on how decision making affects our future:

“Like it or not, every single decision we make takes us down the road close to the destination that is our future. What we think, believe, hope for, study, or dream about doesn’t affect the outcome of our future. The decisions we make and the actions we take DO.”

Direction determines destination. I want to challenge you to consider what choices you are making daily that are affecting where you’re going. What things are you doing or not doing that are helping or hurting your direction and your ability to get where you want to go? The little decisions that we make throughout the day make an impact on our direction in life.

We have to start breaking busy before the busy breaks us. Breaking Busy book

So what is this 10-10-10 analysis that Alli talks about in Breaking Busy? Sometimes, we aren’t given a very long time to think about and process information before making a decision. This is where Alli relies on Suzy Welch’s 10-10-10 decision-making process. It’s simple:

Ask yourself how you will feel about your decision after 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years.

Everything you do has impact. So when you’re struggling to make a decision, to know what direction you should take, or what your answer should be, ask yourself these questions.

That really, really challenged me. I thought it was a fantastic way to approach decision making. Sometimes we don’t have enough time to decide, but before we say yes, we can stop to ask ourselves how we would feel within those time intervals to help us decide what to do.

Sometimes we make a decision because it feels good right now, in this moment. But will it feel good or right in 10 months or years? It might be a hard and awkward no in those first 10 minutes that will save you so much misery, heartache, and stress over the next 10 months or years.

Why we need to start Breaking Busy

Inspired by the 10-10-10 analysis and as part of my Year of Rest, I’ve been challenging myself to not only ask myself, “How am I going to feel about this commitment in 10 minutes from now, 10 months from now, and 10 years from now?”, but then I’m going on and asking myself the following four questions before I say “yes” to any extra commitment:

  1. Is this extra commitment in line with my priorities and goals for this year?
  2. Am I absolutely, positively, and totally excited about doing this/making this commitment?
  3. Do I have the time, capacity, and energy to do this and maintain a restful pace of life?
  4. Is my husband fully on board with me saying “yes” to this opportunity?

Here’s what I’m discovering: once I’ve gone through the 10-10-10 analysis and asked myself these four questions, I am hardly saying “yes” to any extra commitments. And it feels amazing!

By doing so, I’m able to really, really give my best to those few things I’m saying yes to. I’m able to focus on them, pour into them, and give my all to them instead of giving my leftovers or what little tiny capacity I could muster up because I was stretched so thin and exhausted by all the demands of the other things I’ve committed to.

And not only that, but by only saying “yes” to a few things, it’s allowing me to be so much more fully present and have margin and breathing room for what’s most important:

  • To be able to really listen to my child or pay attention as they go through all of the steps of how their latest LEGO Puzzle Box works.
  • To stop and just snuggle with my husband, flirt with my husband, or have a 15-second kiss (or more!). To have an impromptu phone call with a friend who is struggling.
  • To stop what I’m doing and give counsel to a friend who is wrestling with an issue.
  • To write a note of encouragement to someone who could use some cheering up.
  • To take time express gratitude in a meaningful way…

If it doesn't add to your life it doesn't belong in your life

We only get one shot at life. I’ve spent enough time chasing and rushing and hustling. This year, instead of living life at breakneck speed, I’m focusing on breaking busy. And let me tell you, after one month of living like this and experiencing the benefits, I’m thinking of turning my Year of Rest into a Life of Rest!

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  • Kristen S. says:

    I love that analysis! It really puts decisions into context. So often we don’t think through how our “small” choices affect the trajectory of our lives. This past year, I’ve realized even more how our habits and decisions have a huge outcome in what our lives become. I’ve made changes and I’m feeling the best I’ve ever felt!

  • Annie says:

    Andy Stanley gave an excellent sermon on making decisions. He encourages us to ask ourselves what the wise decision is. Not only in light of our future goals, but considering both our past and our current circumstances as well.

  • Denise says:

    This book was truly amazing. It ranked right up there with your Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, Crystal! I even said that in my review 🙂

    My favorite quote was “gratitude is the antidote to anxiety” and I learned a lot about how to deal with anxiety and worry in this book!

  • Maryalene says:

    I haven’t read this book yet, but I have read a lot of books on the same subject recently. While I agree with the basic premise, I get hung up on what do we do about volunteer activities that may not be totally exciting but need to be done for the greater good?

    For example, sports teams come to mind. I doubt anyone is truly excited about the prospect of giving up their week nights and weekends for a couple months to coach a 5th grade basketball team. But if someone doesn’t make the sacrifice, then the kids would miss out.

    I really struggle with how often do we say yes to these types of activities and still protect our family/personal time. That’s something I haven’t seen addressed in the books I’ve read.

    • michele says:

      I agree. I took on being church treasurer against what I knew was good for me because literally no one else would do it and our church books were becoming a mess. I (prayerfully) considered the threat to my congregation if things were allowed to continue, the rampant suspicion and distrust that can result from not having an organization’s financial house in order, and chose to put the body’s need above my own. I hate it sometimes. I really do. But I sincerely felt that God called me to make that sacrifice.

      • Annie D. says:

        I struggle with this, too. I feel like there are so many needs in the world, and so many negative things, so I should be stepping up and doing whatever I can to make things better. Thank you, Crystal, for helping me to consider this from another perspective.

      • Millie says:

        Good for you; prayers that you will find some joy and less stress from the task. I know that you will be rewarded times ten or more for your willingness and work on the task.

    • Meghan says:

      I completely agree. I wholeheartedly agree that it’s important not to over-commit oneself, but when I read this type of thinking (not just here but on other blogs as well) I think about the impact on societal commitments and responsibilities. I think that when we focus primarily on what’s good for ourselves or those we love, we (and greater society) ultimately loses something important. I think it’s important that everything we do isn’t for ourselves, our own benefit, or our own well-being.

    • Denise says:

      Read the book! Alli talks about this and the chapter really helped me!

  • Oh, I love this! I may have to suggest it to my book club at

  • Ever since reading “Better Than Before” by Gretchen Rubin, I’ve been fascinated by decision making and its impact on our daily lives. This looks like another book that I need to put on my “to read” list. I love the 10-10-10 idea.

  • Jessica says:

    This is really helpful. I tend to mull over decisions (often to my detriment) but this gives me a ” default shortcut” for when I need it. Thanks!

  • SK Bell says:

    This is such a great piece of advice. I am going to write it down and hang it up somewhere to re-read when my kids are driving me crazy! Will I really care about this in ten minutes/months/years? Probably not!

  • Millie says:

    Thank you, Crystal. Such a hugely helpful nugget here! I want to thank you for more than just this brilliant post (also thanks for introducing me here to Alli and also Susan Welch, two ladies I had not heard of before now and will check out); more I want to say, Thanks for so much value and help from you in my inbox! I sign up for many lists, but no one has delivered as much helpfulness as you, you must be my favorite blogger. I’ll pin and save and share this post and am happy to have such a helpful, easy-to-use new tool in my kit now. Thanks again!

  • Amber says:

    I have been struggling in the decision making area, I have the best of intentions and know in my heart what I should do-but then I just don’t do it. Trying to do some real soul searching to figure out why I keep sabatoging myself. I do know that my mind and spirit have to be stronger than my emotions in the moment, I have to make the decision that takes me a step forward in the direction I ultimately want to end up in, not what feels good in the immediate moment.

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