Finding My 5 Hours

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I was reading an article about John Mayer recently. Despite all the tabloid drama, John is truly a world class guitar player. I find him fascinating because he’s about my age, and I’ve been playing the guitar for over 10 years now.

In the article, John suggested that he might not be a famous guitarist and songwriter if Facebook and Twitter had existed when he was growing up. His point– he endured the pain of repetitive guitar practice for years with relatively low levels of distraction. He did this in part because he saw it as his ticket out of obscurity.

I used to think like John– that a career out on the road creating rock songs would be my ticket to an exciting life. I didn’t understand something John seemed to get early on– that finding work you love is a better success strategy than finding benefits you love.

I glorified the benefits of being a songwriter, but I didn’t like the work.

If you can’t do something 5 hours a day, every day, you don’t like it enough to be highly successful at it.

I use 5 hours as my rule of thumb because it’s ambitious but plausible for most people.

If you find something you can do for 5 hours a day, it’s probably worth going at it with all your energy. It’s rare. The upsides for people who can manage it are huge.

If you are enamored with the benefits of a pursuit, but cannot work 5 hours a day on it, you are better off exploring other options. When I freed myself from my vague dreams of songwriting success, I became a happier person.

-Dan

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Published on 08.23.11

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