It’s amazing what we can achieve in ten years.
At 15, Hakeem Olajuwon joined a local Nigerian sports tournament. He had planned to play handball there but ended up playing basketball, and it changed his life.
“He couldn’t even dunk at first,” said one of his first coaches in an interview.
The article’s headline was “Olajuwon: He’s not the best yet.” They didn’t know how accurate it was.
A decade later, he was the undisputed leader of the Houston Rockets in the 1988-1989 season. He went from knowing nothing about basketball to being one of the greatest players in the world’s most competitive league.
Olajuwon’s journey shows that, with time and consistency, we can achieve anything in ten years.
10 years ≃ 10,000 hours
You’ve probably heard about the 10,000-hour rule already. It takes around 10,000 hours of intensive practice to master complex skills and topics.
This equates to roughly 2 hours and 40 minutes of daily practice over ten years.
If we want to get good at anything, we must dedicate at least that much time each day. And day by day, we’ll get closer to the golden mark. Imagine the painter’s strokes becoming more confident with each canvas or a musician feeling his fingers getting nimbler every day.
This daily pace is flexible and can change over the years, too. We may start with one hour a day, and then, after a year, we increase it because we have more time.
Ten years can be split into phases
The ten-year period is also helpful for gaining perspective, as we can divide it into phases.
We can focus the first year on the basics of whatever we’re doing, like learning a new language, and then increase the difficulty and level of focus as we progress.
We’ll probably be more fullfilled if we accept it will take such a long time. That’s what happened to me when I resumed this blog.
I began writing more seriously in 2023 and strive to write daily. Often, I don’t publish my work, but it’s still practice.
I’m not expecting to gain a large audience or sign a book deal within the next six months. However, writing one article a week for ten years will amount to 520 articles. I might not be great by then, but I’ll certainly be much better.
So, when considering our goals, let’s think long-term. We’ll probably end up way further than we think if we keep going.
Hakeem Olajuwon (by Mitchell Layton)