Friday, January 23, 2009

An Hour A Day

I hear a lot of people say that they want to change their lives: lose weight, make more money, learn something new, take up a new hobby, accomplish some physical challenge, etc. Sadly, most of those people then go on to say that they wish they could do that, but they can’t. And most of the time the reason they can’t ends up being a variation on one of these two:

1. I don’t have enough time.
2. I’ll be too old before I complete it.

Excuse me, but both of those reasons are bullshit. The second one, especially. How old will you be if you don’t complete it? You can sit there and wish all you like, and complain about how you’re not getting any younger and the world is passing you by, or you can decide that you want to do something. Either way, time will pass. But after five or twenty years, the person who actually tries will have something to show for it. The person who spent that time complaining about how it’s too hard or will take too long will have nothing but bitterness.

As for the “I don’t have enough time” complaint: that’s crap, too. You might not have enough time to dedicate your life to a new pursuit, but you most definitely have time to improve your life. All it takes is an hour a day, and most people spend way more than an hour every day watching TV, surfing the Web, or doing other things that are neither relaxing nor productive.

Let me give an example. I’ve mentioned a time or two that I used to run marathons when I was younger. I since stopped running and took up bicycling, but lately I’ve wanted to get back into running. So I set myself a goal of running a 10K race (6.2 miles). I can’t run 6 miles today. I’m hard pressed to run even one mile without stopping. But I can run a bit, walk some, run a bit more, and so on for an hour every day. I don’t know yet how long it’ll take me to build up to 6 miles, but every day I go out I find that I can run a little bit further. And in a few months I’ll be up to 6 miles.

Another example is education. A lot of people think they need school in order to get educated. It’s true that if you want a degree or a certification, you need to attend formal classes. But if you just want to learn about a particular topic, you have all the educational resources you need on the Web, in your public library, bookstores, and All you need to do is start reading. Try reading on your topic for an hour a day.

Want to learn the piano? Spend an hour a day practicing. Build strength? Get some weights and a beginner’s book and spend an hour a day lifting. Learn to write better? Practice writing an hour every day. Pretty much whatever you want to do, you can get a very good start on it by allocating one hour per day, and I don’t know anybody who doesn’t have at least an hour per day to spend on self improvement.

Try it. Rather than complaining about how something is too hard or will take too long, sit down and plan how you can accomplish that thing you’ve always dreamed about. Spend an hour per day working toward your goal. You’ll be surprised at how much progress you make in just a few weeks. The longer you work at it, the more you’ll learn and the better you’ll become, and the more you’ll want to continue. All you have to lose is time, and the rewards are potentially limitless.

No comments: