With all these sports events going on – the Euro Cup 2012, Wimbledon, and the 2012 Olympic Games starting in a several weeks, (plus a month of my son’s soccer tournaments), and as we sit ourselves in front of the television to watch all these athletes competing at the top of their game, it reminded me of a recent feature of a guy who wanted to be a professional golfer. However, he had no experience in golf, was starting late (he was 30 years old then) and wanted to learn quickly. So he quit his job and is now on a mission/experiment to learn how to play golf and be a professional golfer in 10,000 hours. According to a study, roughly 10,000 hours is the period determined to be the amount of time one needs to learn and practise at something to attain a professional level of expertise. His journey is documented on his blog (TheDanPlan.com), and he has been featured in several magazines and news/tv appearances. Here’s an excerpt from the site:
“WHAT IS THE DAN PLAN?It’s a project in transformation. An experiment in potential and possibilities. Through 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice,” Dan, who currently has minimal golf experience, plans on becoming a professional golfer. But the plan isn’t really about golf: through this process, Dan hopes to prove to himself and others that it’s never too late to start a new pursuit in life.”
So in Dan’s plan, he is learning and playing golf six hours a day, six days a week, and will complete his 10,000 hours in six years. He’s already completed two years of his schedule.
But isn’t this what professional athletes do already? Eat, sleep, breathe their sport? I suppose the difference is that these athletes started younger, and have been playing at their sport for longer than six years, whereas Dan is starting late.
Starting a new pursuit in life is always possible. I think it’s your life circumstances that determines whether you start or not, and whether you continue to the end or not. Will-power, drive, determination, motivation … if it’s something you want to do, like to do, it can be done. My thoughts turn more and more towards the day that I will have to retire from the workforce. Isn’t retirement the same as starting a new pursuit in life? It seems a long way off, but I know how the days and months will quickly speed by. It’s a new chapter of your life, this retirement. So wouldn’t that be a good time to start something new?
So … to concentrate and focus on one thing only, for the next six to eight years (depending on how you schedule the days and weeks), so that you can be an expert on that one thing. As I think more on this, (and taking away the reality of life and finances for the moment), I start to scrutinize and analyze all those projects that I wanted to do, and which one has the potential to keep me interested and working on it for 10,000 hours. I suppose, more importantly, is do I have the drive and the motivation to keep myself interested and working on the same subject for 10,000 hours? (hmmm …. does my 20+ years of working in the same organization count?) My attention span is getting shorter as the years go by. I have spurts of frenzied obsession and work on one single thing, and when that’s done, my mind goes on to the next thing. Can I train myself at my age to just focus on one thing?
On the other hand … as any parent will tell you, we all need extra hours in a day to do what we have to do in one day, and still get a night’s rest. But imagine what you could do with 10,000 free hours — all that time to do what you want, not what you have to do! Okay, maybe we’ll spend some time to spring clean the house first! And then … I’ve got several ideas running through my head, thinking of projects that I’ve been wanting to spend more time on. Crochet and knit more complex projects – and I might even finish all those pending projects I have now! Really learn and practise how to take good pictures. Start writing again, maybe even start and finish a novel. Read all those books on the bookshelf, by the bed. Start an exercise/keep fit program; hubby and I might even make it to one of those mini-triathlon events; okay, we’ll start with a marathon first. Taking the time to travel and explore. Go back to school and be a professional student. Learn something new – but what?
So – If you had 10,000 hours to concentrate to learn or work on one thing (to become a professional, or just to learn one new thing to excel in), what would that be?
How would you use up those 10,000 hours?