Mastering a skill is hard work. We have to face the painful feeling of inadequacy over and over again in the process of mastering a skill.
Yeah the road to mastery sucks, so I should make sure I get through it as fast as possible, right? This thinking is what led me to productivity books like , , and others. I have always thought "if I have to go through a , I want to go as fast as I can."
Recently I realized I was missing a key ingredient when I saw this in a tweet.
"People like to talk about how kids develop so quickly. Why don't you try sleeping 12 hours and spending the other 12 on the edge of your ability!"
12 hours on the edge of your ability
sleeping for 12 hours
This is the part I have been missing. I like to tell people that I enjoy things when i am good at them. This mentality has led me to make everything about mastery. Hobbies like illustrating, writing this blog, skateboarding, running, lifting, and cooking are all things I have tried to master. The problem with making everything in your life about mastery is that you begin to run on fumes before long.
I have done many cycles of trying to master everything, failing to do so, and feeling the dissonance around my lack of achievement. Only to start again with a new field and fresh hopes of a better outcome. The fact that I am struggling to accept is that there is a limit to what I can do. As I ignore this limit and continue the delusion, it only leads to more cycles of overcommitment and burnout.
Note: Accepting that I have a limit was a big internal debate for me, and for a long time I was afraid that accepting it was giving into a . I have discovered that these are two different things. Accepting that time is a zero sum game is important on the journey of saying no and focusing on what you value the most.
I was talking to my sister the other day and it was obvious to her. "You don't have anything that fills you up." The 12 hours of sleep are essential to childhood development. In the same way adults can't always be on, performing, and getting better at things. Sometimes we need to chill and recharge and dare I say it, be unproductive.
Resting well is as important as practicing well on the journey of mastering a skill.