A weird tactic known as the 10-10-10 principle is based on the following: how will what I do have implications on my life 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years from now? I think it’s an ingenious little strategy for getting us out of the moment where we can easily be tempted by short-sighted desires to think instead about how your choices will affect us in the long term.
Here’s an example: you feel a sudden pang of hunger, and you know there is an incredibly sugary german chocolate cake waiting ever so patiently for you in the fridge. One generous, perfect, piece. “Geez, that icing looks incredible, and it would be a shame to have such a delectable treat go to waste. Maybe I’ll just have a little bite, and if I like it, I can have another.
With a few chomps and a lick of the fingertips, you suddenly realize that the entire piece of cake is sitting like a brick in your rapidly expanding gut. After the inevitable sugar crash, you hate yourself, you hate birthdays, and you never want to see cake again.
But take a step back. If you opened the fridge and actually considered what would happen after you sucked the artery-clogging cake down your esophagus, maybe you would have made a different decision. “If I eat that cake right now, I’m probably going to feel like death in 10 minutes time. In 10 months, I’ll still have love handles. In 10 years, err, quadruple bypass?”
I remember some moronic movie from the 80’s where a R2D2-esque robot followed this guy around. When he went to the fridge to grab a piece of cake, the robot obediently informed him that eating it would take something like 7 minutes and 58 seconds off of his life. Deflated and scared out of his wits by the prospect, the dude left the cake alone. Horrible movie, but the principle is worthy of consideration. While we don’t all have creepy robots watching our every move to act as our external conscience (yet!), what if we did have the wherewithal to think of the longer term implications of our actions? After all, good habits often breed good habits, whether it’s making healthy eating decisions or almost anything else in life.
So next time you’re staring down a Krispy Kreme, a Taco Bell sign, or a deep-fried twinkie, think about not how you’ll feel when you’re eating, but AFTER. 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years. The calculus changes.
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