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Repetitions Not Resolutions

Do something 10,000 times and you’re an expert. At least, that’s a maxim we seem to have heard often. But what is an expert anyway? And why would you want to be one? What does being an expert have to do with New Year’s Resolutions?

I guess that depends on the person. To me, being an expert isn’t a single qualification or mastery of specific skill. Rather it is the accumulation of a certain set of skills to perform/express a task and/or combination of tasks to the point of fluency with ease or; being able to do something in your sleep

An example: a master chef can take a few simple ingredients and with their knowledge turn them into a world-class meal. For the sake of simplicity let’s break down the architecture of a thing into three parts.

1. Fundamentals

2. Advanced Knowledge

3. Expert Knowledge

In nearly everything you can break it down into three categories. (The idea that these can also be further distilled into further more specific competencies is also valid.)

But only in their specific lane. A master chef in French cuisine does not necessarily mean a master chef in Japanese cuisine. A black belt in Kung Fu is very different from a black belt in Jiu Jitsu. Different strokes.

Enter the idea of resolutions. Every year many of us either make a mental list or put pen to paper and make a list of things that you want to accomplish or change about yourself for the upcoming year. Many of us fail, many make strides, all at least try. But detractors will say, “Yeah, well, that’s a dumb idea.” “Everyday should be New Years! You don’t need a special day to start living the way you want!”

Yes, the detractors are right. The day to start is arbitrary.

But much like the theme of this essay – they’re kinda wrong too; because it’s all "shades of". People are ritualistic. Go to Atlantic City for a visceral example. And a special day that connotes the idea of a “kicking-off” or “fresh start” is enough of a catalyst that we make a ritual of it. So let’s run with that.

Where the resolution machine breaks down isn’t in the planning or even the execution. The sales of gym memberships in January does not slip. It’s in the sustainability. It’s in the repetition. People go to the gym for a week, two, a month even – and then things happen and a one event leads to another and before you know it there was a cascade of events that makes you drop your resolution.

So the advice I’ve heard that makes the most sense is to not make resolutions, make repetitions. Stack up the hours. Whatever it is you want to do put the raw time in doing that thing. Now don’t phone it in but committing the time to an endeavor will either make it or break it. Putting the time in will help you find out if that thing is for you or not. If it’s not, you’ll hate it and eventually you'll give it up for some better use of your time. If it is, then you will watch as it becomes a part of your routine and thus a part of you. Who knows, you might even become an expert.

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