It’s about that time again. That time when people reflect on who they are, where they are, and where they want to be. Most people will form a New Year’s resolution of some sort. They might want to lose all the weight they gained over Thanksgiving, maybe establish a solid gym routine, or a new resolve to read more books.
All admirable goals. But there is one New Year’s Resolution I implore you to try. Without a doubt it has been the most productive resolution I’ve had and the one that has given me the most satisfaction.
It’s called 730 Hours.
The challenge is as follows:
Set aside 2 hours a day for a craft you want to get good at. No more and no less. Maybe you want to learn an instrument, write a novel, learn how to code perhaps, or maybe you just want to pick up a sport, whatever it is, make it your mission to dedicate 2 hours a day to that craft.
The beauty of this challenge is in how effective it is in. Most resolutions fizzle out because either:
- little to no progress is being made
- there is no method of accountability built into the resolution
The 730 hour challenge is a solution for both of these problems.
Take for example learning an instrument or picking up a sport. Many people quit because they “lose the motivation.” In other words, they don’t see progress and there is little reason for them to continue.
That’s where the 730 hour challenge comes in.
The 730 hour challenge sidesteps this issue because the goal isn’t about progress at all. Some of you might be scratching your head reading this. Let me explain.
Digging for treasure
Imagine you’re digging for treasure. You know without a doubt the treasure lies exactly beneath you, and all you have to do is dig.
You dig for a week. Nothing.
You dig for two weeks. Nothing.
You dig for three weeks. Annnnd nothing.
If the goal was focused on finding the treasure many would give up at this point because doubt will begin to sink in. What if where you’re digging isn’t even the right spot?
If somebody paid you to dig 2 hours a day, however, you wouldn’t even care if there were any treasure. You would just keep digging until you find the treasure.
That’s why the only goal in the 730 hour challenge is simply to dedicate 2 hours a day to practicing your craft. That’s it. The challenge isn’t focused on progress for the simple reason that progress will come if you’re patient and you do the work.
Develop an “out’ clause
In Guy Kawasaki’s book Art of the Start he recommends entrepreneurs to develop “out” clauses in all of their partnerships. The reason for this is because “… the reason partnerships should be hard to get out of is because they are valuable, not [because they are] legalistically enforced.”
The 730 hour challenge isn’t an obligation. It should be fun which is why it comes with an “out” clause as well. The “out” clause is as such:
- Whenever you feel like stopping, give it 1 more week. Just 1 more week. If you still want to quit after 1 week, you can do so in good conscience knowing that the craft you chose wasn’t for you.
Goals without an “out” clause such as “go to the gym regularly” or “eat healthy” are flimsy. Ironically, they are even easily dropped because it’s hard to complete a goal when there is no finish line. Many people stop going to the gym once and then it’ll be a month or two until they feel guilty and step into the gym again. Some might not even step into a gym again.
Don’t let that be you. Even if you’re not going to follow the 730 hours challenge consider adopting an “out” clause like the one above so you can keep focused on your goals.
The thing about the “out” clause is if you go through that week, oftentimes you’ll find you won’t mind doing it another week and another week after that. By allowing yourself the option to be lazy in the future, you prevent yourself from being lazy now. This allows you to create the momentum you need to finish the challenge.
My craft was basketball. For a year I promised myself I was going to get at least 2 hours of gym time no matter what. Rain or shine, 8 hours of sleep or sometimes none at all, I was going to going to be in the gym working on my game for at least 2 hours.
It might seem silly to you, and you would be right. I didn’t have anything to aspire for. My hoop dreams were deflated but I loved the game.
Still I would be lying to it if I told you that I woke up everyday wide-eyed excited to feel my chest heave as sweat trickled down my chin.
They say it takes 10000 hours to be great at something. If I played 2 hours everyday for a year I would clock 730. And I was determined to get all 730 and not a second less.
Here’s what I learned:
Obsession precedes greatness
I haven’t seen growth like that since. Basketball was on my mind 24/7. Now I wasn’t great by any definition of the word, but when you dedicate hours and hours of your time to a craft on your own volition, something magical happens.
The spark of motivation you had when you started bursts into flames. Call it intrinsic motivation, flow, whatever you want to call it, you’ll catch it. It’s like a bug, the good kind.
You get better at motivating yourself
The work never gets easier. You just get better at motivating yourself.
I was used to shaming myself to get to work. It turns out that was a one-way ticket to burn out. It would work… until it didn’t. Negative self-talk is emotionally and mentally draining and it takes away from the task at hand. When I engaged in negative self-talk, my workouts would immediately decrease in intensity.
So I switched up. I focused on patting myself on the back constantly.
Pushed through those painful reps? That’s how champions are built.
Finished an intense drill? Who’s up doing what you’re doing?
Woke up when you didn’t want to? Another reason to be proud of myself. This constant reaffirmation of how awesome you are might sound corny.
But it works.
Once I employed this method my workouts were consistently of high quality and I woke up when I needed to. But my point is you need to find out what works for you so don’t be afraid to try something new even if it feels weird.
The best feeling ever is seeing yourself change before your eyes
It was almost addicting seeing myself improve (and hitting game-winning shots of course).
Being good at something gives you a confidence that’s unreal
Maybe it was just basketball teaching me to stay calm and take action, but I walked out of the gym everyday with my chin up and chest out. After killing yourself and surviving, you deserve to be proud. It made me feel like I can take on anything.
Your productivity raises across the board
One thing I found was how little I would procrastinate. It was as if pushing myself everyday in the gym allowed me to push myself in other areas of my life as well.
It gives you purpose
I was coming out of a low point in my life and rededicating myself to the game of basketball gave me motivation to be a better person. It gave me a reason to wake up everyday and not only survive but to thrive.
I owe who I am today to that experience.
For anybody who is out there who feels a little loss try devoting yourself to a craft.