I wish I had known this 10,000 hours earlier

Hi friends,

The 10,000 hours rule is unscientific and thoroughly disproven. Man, I wish I had known that 10,000 hours earlier!

At age 14, determined to be the world’s greatest organist, I bought in to Malcom Gladwell’s pop psychology. I would wake up and practice scales from 5am to 7am. Then put in another 4 hours in the afternoon.

6 hours a day, 7 days a week.

On top of everything else in my life, I was in “work” mode for about 11 hours a day, without fail. I did that from age 14 to my mid twenties.

Now, if you’re just a smidge more insightful than I was, you know the end of the story: massive, massive burnout!

I created substantial physical and mental health problems for myself by trying to get to 10,000 hours as fast as I could to achieve my dreams.

Knowing what I know now about learning, I could have achieved everything I did as an organist in 5,000 hours! Maybe less. Plenty of other musicians have.

I pushed myself into depression, burnout, and a whole host of health issues. All to achieve a dream. That’s the power of an idea...even when it’s the wrong idea.

I’ve got a pretty different idea now, though.

📢 Time off is equally important to time on.

Time off, now, is most definitely not “recharging” time. Recharging means the purpose of that time is just to charge another part of life.

I shifted to viewing my time off as vital.

Time away from work is life itself.

Time off is at least as important as time on.

You’ve probably heard a version of that message before. I certainly had. But you can’t think your way into transforming yourself.

🗝 Just because you know something has little bearing on whether or not you become something.

I experimented with dozens of ways to get out of the overwork-burnout-recharge cycle. Most of them didn’t work for me. But I eventually arrived at a short list, that I still do every single day.

So, after many years of failure, here they are, the practices that helped me to permanently change my behavior around burnout and time off:

I could list the dozens of things I tried that didn't work, but you'd need to settle in for a long read. :)

Have a wonderful week!


P.S. Go have some fun!

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April 11, 2023