Future Beacon

Ten Minute Rule

Most of us have heard about the “Ten minute rule” where if you want something you shouldn’t be indulging in like a cigarette or a fudge brownie, wait for ten and your craving will reduce.

Research shows this to be a real phenomenon. Interestingly enough when there is this imposed delay in enjoying your guilty pleasure, when you do indulge after the delay it loses a lot of its kick. It goes from being “I can’t live without it!” to hmmm…. I would like to stop that compulsive behavior or lose ten pounds or whatever the longer term goal is. When you are in the "I have to do or have this or will die” mode your brain is on emergency – hijacked by irrational impulse.

For a calmer, more logically oriented brain that can better serve you to meet your long term goals resisting temptation for 10 minutes gives you back your choice to behave in ways that are in your better interest.

Interestingly enough Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. from Standford University tells us that the 10 minute rule can be reversed to help us with procrastination. She says, “Do ten minutes, then you can quit.” This reinforces my old technique of putting the kitchen timer on for 15 minutes to do things I find difficult, like organizing tasks such as sorting, filing, and shredding (sorry 10 would be a perfect match, but that’s not what I usually do). It does help me break through procrastination. And yes it does help me do more after the time allotted.

Delaying of gratification can make a major difference in accomplishing life goals and gaining strength to do what is before you. It can help overcome compulsions that are self-defeating and impact your daily life in a negative way. Go for it! Use this “ten minute rule” to stop worrying, to stop being so angry, to stop acting on addictions and to stop putting off doing what is really good for you in your life. Sometimes it is a good idea to reach in the back of a drawer for an old tool, dust it off and use it.

            -Mary Seyuin, M.A. LLP 3/12/13