Why You and I Need 10,000 Hours

I like Wednesdays. They’re right smack dab in the middle of things. You’ve got a few days under your belt and you’ve got just a few more to go. I especially like Wednesdays at the end of the month because I feel like I get to really review the month, start shutting it down, and start prepping for the next one. So, I figure that I should review those goals I’d posted a while ago.

MutantSupermodel Life Goals as of October 27, 2010:

  1. Try the money envelope system September 30, 2010 for three months (December 31, 2010).  I’ve decided to cancel this. I’ve pretty much come up with the equivalent of a money system on Excel and so far this month, it’s actually working. I may have jinxed myself, and I know this, but I feel pretty good about the coming days. 
  2. Create a Christmas budget by October 15, 2010 and stick to it. Must include supplies for gifts to be made which means projects must be decided on. Going to change this to November 12. I have been so busy that I haven’t had a chance to really crack these numbers plus I have a big event next week so I really won’t be able to sit and do this until that passes.
  3. Update the blog at least once a week for the next four weeks (October 22, 2010).  I did it! Yay success!
  4. Complete requested crocheted baby cape by October 27, 2010. Another one that’s going to have to get rescheduled. I think maybe I’ll aim for December 27. I haven’t had much time to work on much crochet projects.
  5. Prepare for a garage sale in late November/early December 2010. Forget it. It’s just not worth it to me right now. Donations will go into effect instead. I’ll schedule a pick up for December 1, 2010.
  6. Commit to another reading project for 2011 and have details worked out by December 15, 2010.
  7. Send Christmas cards Friday, December 17, 2010. I have to figure out what I’m going to do about the photo this year.
  8. Complete MutantEldest’s Mario Bros. blanket by December 25, 2010. I’m pretty sure the deadline will change. I just need to get Christmas done with so I can plan the next batch of projects and include this one.  
  9. Continue tracking spending in Excel for the next four months (January 31, 2011). This is really starting to flow so nicely. My sheet is awesome and I’ve enahanced it to allow me to budget as I would with envelopes. I am loving it.
  10. Go on a family trip in the next six months (March 2011) and a kid-free trip in the six months after that (October 2011). I’m re-invigorated to make this a priority after reading this post from J.D. Roth.  “First, if you’re interested in travel, travel now. Don’t put it off. If travel is a priority, find ways to budget and save to make it happen. Over and over, Kris and I talked with older couples who wished they had started traveling earlier, when they were still more physically active. And when we met travelers our age, they all said the same thing: They consciously choose to sacrifice other luxuries and comforts so that they can travel while they’re young.”
  11. Re-commit to doing laundry every other day for the next six months (March 25, 2011). Still struggling here. And I think I’ve gotten worse the past week with things at work getting very hectic and requiring me to stay late and be a comlpete zombie the time I’m home.
  12. Continue planning Girls’ Night for next six months (April 2011). I have to see if the girls want to get together at the hotel I’ll be at next week.
  13. Lose 12 pounds in 12 months (September 25, 2011). I’m actively trying to eat better especially when I have time. There’s no way I’ll be able to join the program at work but I am still determined to do something. I just noticed I don’t have a scale anymore.
  14. Pay off credit cards by December 2011, one month ahead of schedule.

It’s been over a month since I posted my original goals. I have become keenly aware of how quickly things escape our minds and memory, even goals we “commit” to. I was pretty alarmed to see it’d been over two weeks since I last visited my goals. That’s just too long. It seems the more frequently I visit the goals, the easier it is to keep them in my mind and to draw on them for inspiration when life gets into the lemon bin at the produce section. How do I know I’m not reviewing them often enough? Because it’s been over a month since I came up with them and if you asked me to recite them, I wouldn’t be able to– not even half.

Like lots of things, this gets my mind absolutely whirring. For example, the times I have been really truly successful with my spending have been when I have religiously and meticulously tracked it. This means revisiting my spending not once a week or once a month but at least every couple of days if not every single day. This falls perfectly in line with one of Gretchen Rubin’s keys to keeping resolutions which is to do it every day. I’m even reminded of FLYlady who insists you do the things on her program every day. And then it’s all summed up perfectly by this Radiolab podcast I just listened to last week called “Secrets of Success”. Specifically, Malcolm Gladwell postulates that it takes about 10,000 hours to truly master something.

Do you know how many hours 10,000 is? Well, to start with you only have 8,760 hours in one year so if you’re trying to master something in just one year, you can forget it. Want to master it in only two years? Well you’d better be prepared to dedicate almost 14 hours a day, every day, for two years. According to Gladwell, you’re realistically looking at taking about 10 years to get those 10,000 hours in. Even that’s pretty heavy duty for a normal person– you’re talking dedicating almost three hours a day, every single day for ten years, to something. Now isn’t that sort of a relief?

Really,  just take a minute and think about that. Think about all of those things you beat yourself up for on a constant basis. How many hours do you dedicate to that on a daily basis? How long have you been doing so? Of course, motherhood comes to mind, right? I constantly doubt my mothering skills. I haven’t spent every hour of every day since MutantEldest was born, mothering. I know there are certain people out there that would love to argue otherwise but get real. I’m not mothering every minute of every hour of every day. I don’t dream about mothering every night. Not to mention, when you talk about motherhood, you have to acknowledge the playing field literally changes on an annual basis. Can you really ever truly attain mastery status? What about money? I feel like I’ve been working on my finances for a few years . But every day? A few hours every day? No way. So, it really shouldn’t be a big surprise that I haven’t mastered motherhood or finances just like Gretchen Rubin hasn’t mastered happiness and J.D. Roth hasn’t mastered money. Yes, they are very knowledgeable on their respective topics and years ahead of where I am but masters? I don’t think either would make that claim as they both report having stumbling blocks.

As a matter of fact, the only thing I can pretty confidently say I have dedicated more than 10,000 hours to in my thirtyish years of life is reading. And yes, I do think I’m a master of reading. I devour books whole in very short periods of time. People are often amazed at my ability. They claim I must have a special gift. I don’t. I’m just obsessed with reading. And I’ve been obsessed with reading since I was a small child. You bet I dedicated hours to reading. I read while I walked. I read while I bathed. I read while I ate (or ignored my food more accurately). I read in the car until I got nauseated. I read in bed. I read while I waited. I read between classes. I read every chance I got. So, yes I’m definitely a Master Reader. And the only difference between me and you is a few thousand hours with books.

I really like this theory. In an age where everything is an overnight success, an instant gratification, or an immediate response, we need more reminders to focus on the long-term too. It’s not lost on me that so many hobbies that take an investment of time have been increasingly replaced with activities that don’t require much time from you. But, as in most things, you get what you pay for. Watching television, posting silly videos on YouTube, clicking through Facebook, reading and sending 140 character tweets– they are all effective to a degree  but they also deliver a more shallow level of satisfaction.  

This really invigorates me to contemplate more long-term goals especially as my list is void of anything beyond December 2011– a mere 14 months away. I defnitely don’t have anything 10,000 hours away on there do I? What about you? What would you do with 10,000 hours?


2 thoughts on “Why You and I Need 10,000 Hours

  1. This is funny! I like your sense of humor and writing style. I agree about the travel, we have to do it while we can and even if we cannot!

    PS- I had to give up envelopes too, and I use excel to track my budget. It “mostly works”.


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