I have a confession to make… I just watched Groundhog Day for the first time. Shameful, I know.
Groundhog Day is a classic Bill Murray comedy from the early 90′s. Without giving too much of the plot away, Bill Murray plays a cynical TV weatherman covering the annual groundhog day festival in Punxsutawney, PA. However he find that when he goes to sleep, he repeatedly wakes up at 6:00 AM on groundhog day in his hotel room. He keeps reliving the same day over and over again – for upwards of 10,000 years. He eventually learns to develop himself and becomes a master pianist, ice sculptor, and fluent in french.
Bill Murray is a true modern bachelor:
After watching the movie I was talking it over with some of my buddies and we all kept debating “what would you learn to do if you could keep reliving the same day over and over?” And then we’d talk about all the awesome skills we’d acquire or things we’d try.
But one scene in the movie really stuck out for me, early on when Bill Murray is drunkenly talking it over with 2 rednecks. He says:
“You ever get that feeling you’re living the same day over and over again and nothing you ever do matters?”
To which one of the rednecks replies:
“Pretty much sums it up for me.”
Well, shit. That hits pretty close to home. I know that feeling, and I know a lot of guys that have the feeling, that you’re endlessly toiling away every day without making any real progress, and it feels like each day that passes by and you’re barely closer to your goals and dreams, if at all.
Everyone talks about Bill Murray in Groundhog Day like it’d be some fun alternate reality to live out. What no one ever takes into account is that his story is very real, and extremely applicable to all of us.
The magical 10,000 number
Harold Ramis, the director of Groundhog Day, has stated that Bill Murray relives the same day for around 10,000 years. So that may be a bit longer than most of us can afford to spend. I like to rethink it in terms of I have 10,000 days, or roughly 27 years to really improve myself and be as awesome as possible.
27 years is actually a good number for most of you reading this blog. I assume you’re in your mid 20′s, and I’m 23 at the time of writing so 27 years from now I’ll be an even 50. That’s a lot of time to make myself into the most badass version of me possible.
I recently read another statistic I really like – 30 minutes a day of working on a skill equates to 3 weeks of total time spent per year. This statistic can be great for eliminating distractions. 30 minutes of Reddit/Facebook a day? It’s much easier to cut that out when you realize that 3 weeks our of your year gone.
On the flip side of the coin, spending 30 minutes a day to learn a new skill will get you 3 weeks of solid practice a year. An hour a day will equate to 6 weeks. Think about it.
If your goal is to be fit and healthy, spend an hour per day lifting, doing some cardiovascular work, or stretching/foam rolling. You could learn a new martial art. 30-60 minutes per day studying a new language will get you to basic proficiency in a year. You can also start learning a musical instrument or teaching yourself to dance with youtube videos.
Want to be better with women? Go out to a public place and just be social with everyone you see for an hour every day. Or more classically there’s intensive methods like the ‘newbie challenge’ where you make a point to approach & talk to a minimum of 5 girls/day.
The point is, repeated practice works. There’s no shortcut for time spent mastering a skill. Keeping on-theme with this section, you’ve probably also heard of the 10,000 hour rule. The basic gist is it takes roughly 10,000 hours practicing your craft to become a true expert. This fits right in with the 27 year outline – an hour a day of practice means you can claim true mastery of a new skill by age 50 – if you start today.
That may seem like a long time, but remember the 10,000 hour rule is for true mastery. I would argue every 1,000 hours learning a skill has diminishing returns. That is, you get maybe 50% proficient with the first 1,000 hours you spend, and then after 2,000 hours maybe you’re 70% proficient etc (I’m totally pulling these numbers out of my ass to illustrate a point).
So what does that actually mean? 30 minutes a day for 3-4 years will get you quite far in learning a new skill. And it’s easy to set 1-2 hours aside each day for personal development & learning new skills.
Right now I spend about 1 hr/day doing physical activity, 30 minutes/day reading about fitness & personal development, and 30 minutes learning portuguese. I also train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but I wrap that in with general physical activity.
After watching Groundhog Day I’m tempted to work in playing piano (a longtime goal of mine) or learning to breakdance & shuffle. 30 minutes a day really isn’t that bad, especially when you want something.
So why do people keep on living like the core premise of Groundhog Day isn’t attainable? The truth is most people essentially do live the same day 10,000 times without realizing what they missed out on. I don’t want to wake up at 50 and wonder what happened to my life and all the things I wanted to do and skills I wanted to master.
And it all starts today, right now. Figure out the 2-3 most important skills you’d like to learn and set up a plan right now to start logging your hours and making yourself a better person. Really, go do it. Right now.