Five-Minute Trial

"Let's see how it goes"

(getting over the hump)

A temporary compromise

NNI (now-next integrity) is all about your Now and your Next being able to get and stay on the same page. Sometimes getting into partnership can be a compromise, especially for Next since he or she has a tendency to discount Now’s feelings.

Negotiating to get past Now's reluctance

Consider a circumstance where Next wants to do some accounting on your computer, but Now is resistant to starting. Yet, Next knows that, if you started, there’s a good chance that Now will get into the process. The issue is about getting started.

"Let's just try it for five minutes"


This is where the "Five-Minute Trial" may work. Suppose that Next proposes to Now, “Let’s just start on the accounting. Let's do it for five minutes. If, after five minutes, you want to stop, I’ll agree and I won’t blame you. Okay?”

Your Next shows respect to your Now

Yes, Next is taking a risk here. And he or she must be willing to stop after five minutes if Now hasn’t gotten into the process within that time period. By the way, this period of “five minutes” is a negotiation point between Next and Now. The trial period could be more time or less time, as long as both are agreeable.

Now is your three-year old child within

In working to get Next and Now on the same page, it’s helpful to think of your Now as a three-year-old child (a child that will always be very much a part of you). If some task occurs as unwanted to Now, he or she can often be open to a short-term (like five minutes) provisional agreement.

The "Five-Minute Trial" can be used in many circumstances


Many circumstances might take advantage of this approach:

  • Next wants to exercise, but Now is resistant to start.

  • Next wants to organize the office, but Now is reluctant to step into that.

  • Next wants to check some profiles on a dating site, but Now doesn’t feel like it.

A default agreement can make things easier

Typically, waking up each morning by alarm, if Dwight-Now didn't have a prior understanding with Dwight-Next, he would prefer to lie in bed indefinitely. However, Dwight-Now has a general agreement with Dwight-Next that we will get up immediately upon waking. Predictably, once we're up, then within five minutes, Dwight-Now is happy to be greeting the new day. Uncommonly, if Dwight-Now still wants to get back into bed after fifteen minutes or so, then Dwight-Next, as part of their general agreement, concurs and we crawl back into bed.

How a lawyer client used the "Five-Minute Trial" approach

My longest running client was a very successful medical malpractice lawyer who lived in Arizona. We worked together for nine years. He had a standard promise to himself for each workday: "Each morning that I'm in the office, I will spend a minimum of 30 minutes on the case that is giving me the most anxiety." His Now was unwilling to promise more than 30 minutes and his Next knew that he couldn't get much done in 30 minutes. But his Next also knew that, once he got started, his Now would probably be willing to keep going. 

Keep this great partnership tool in mind whenever you have an NNI issue!

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