In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell studied the lives of extremely successful people in vastly different fields to find out how they achieved success. Apparently Gladwell determined one common denominator was that the best and the brightest spent roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field.
The following are things I’ve dabbled with on and off over the years. While I cannot definitively say that I’ve invested 10,000 hours consecutive hours on them, I have pursued these goals with some marginal forward progress.
In no particular order, I’m going to expand on them a little more:
- Learn to speak Polish fluently
- Qualify for the Boston Marathon (BQ)
- Write a book and have it published
Learn to speak Polish fluently
In 2009 I purchased the Rosetta Stone software. I bought all three levels figuring I might as well go all in especially since they had a guarantee that if you don’t learn the language after 6 months you can return it. My plan was to spend an hour an evening pushing through the exercises. Unfortunately, it was also summer, i just met Nightingale and let’s just say I didn’t use the program much. I could have been a Dbag and asked for my money back, but the problem was my lack of effort and I owned that. so it has sat pretty dormant though i fire it up from time to time.
Why I might not succeed: it’s hard to learn a new language especially once you are an adult. Add to the fact that I don’t have to learn this language as in need to in order to survive.
Why I’m not giving up: I’ve been using my Rosetta Stone software program with greater frequency of late. and it is starting to feel like something is sticking. I know enough Polish to pretend to not speak any English when a member of PETA stops me downtown and asks me to sign a petition and donate money. There’s also always the chance some new technology will come along (language DNA injections anyone?)
Qualify for the Boston Marathon
Just finishing your first or second marathon is accomplishment enough. When you do more than that, you’re targeting a specific time, usually to Boston Qualify. Since that dream has pretty much been filed away with my childhood desire to be an astronaut, there’s really no reason I can think of to run another marathon today.
Why I might not succeed: my faster marathon time is 3:29:52 in 2006. Back then, even with the BA giving you an extra 60 seconds bonus, I was 15 minutes too slow. Since then my marathon times as well as my running endurance have diminished. I had my knee scoped in 2010 and haven’t been able to duplicate my previous success. Meanwhile it’s even harder to get into Boston. A few years ago they tightened up the qualifying times, eliminated the bonus minute and also made it a sort of seeded event with this rule:
The acceptance of official race entrants will be based on qualifying time, with the fastest qualifiers (in relation to their age and gender) being accepted first until the race is full
This means that for every age group there are only so many slots so even if you hit the range, if there are more people your age who ran just faster than you, you still miss out.
Why I’m not giving up: I do believe there is at least one more marathon in my future. Possible a few more throughout my sunset years. Just as I went from a 4 hour marathon to a 3:30, it’s possible I can achieve some peaks again. Also the BA has made it harder to get into now, it’s possible they might someday ease the criteria so that old guys get in. And with all this stem cell research and mapping of the human genome, there’s gotta be a way to grow cartilage back…amiright?
Write a book and have it published
I’m a good writer. How do I know this? in high school I got good grades in writing even though my cursive writing was atrocious. What I lacked in pretty packaging, I made up for in content. In college I got to be the editor of the student newspaper at UIC, a university that did not have a Journalism School. That said, I didn’t make it as a journalist and have simply dabbled in writing whenever I get the chance. I blog so that I can exercise my writing muscle. These days I average 4000 pageviews a month, which is 100 times what I was getting when I wrote strictly about our house-hunting adventures, but still not quite enough to get me consistently into the top 20 blogs on ChicagoNow. And that is okay because blogging on ChicagoNow provides a vehicle to practice my craft without too much pressure.
Why I might not succeed: it takes a lot of time to write something and then publish and self promote. With electronic publishing and the self-publishing movement, there are a lot of Indie Authors out there to compete with and while we wouldn’t necessarily be competing directly with one another (read my RomCom/Scifi/mystery novel) we would be vying over the limited funds of people generous enough to give unknown authors a chance.
why I’m not giving up: With e-Publishing and the Indie Book Movement, this is the most likely goal I can achieve. All I really need is a good idea and the discipline to hammer out 200 pages of dribble and pay to have it printed, even in electronic format, I have met that goal. If someone buys a copy, that’s just extra gravy. And if I’m really lucky, Oprah will like it and The Vatican will boycott it.
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