10,000 Hours

According to Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” Using information from his own research and a study of violin students in the 1990’s, he concludes that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert among experts.

Time magazine, among others, have found holes in this theory. But the crucial message for me, as an addict, is that it takes time to become good at anything … including recovery.

There is a tremendous difference in how I perceive accomplishment before and after recovery:

Before recovery:

I thought it would be impossible to pay down my $33,000 debt.

After recovery:

I am astonished that my debt appears to have magically been reduced to $11,500 in just four years! But that is because I have paid down as much as I REASONABLY could every month without depriving myself of needs and some wants.

Before recovery:

I believed I should be expert at a skill in one hour. If it took much more than that, I gave up. Seriously! Second point associated with this, if it took much more than an hour to succeed at a task with which I was uncomfortable, I threw my hands up in the air, crying, “I can’t do this.” If I received one or two rejections, I stopped sending out queries and proposals, running from my dreams with my tail between my legs, forgetting that best-selling authors like J.K. Rowling and Stephen King were rejected dozens of times.

I cannot tell you how many businesses (hobbies) I threw thousands of borrowed dollars at but refused to do the hard grunt work of learning and practicing skills like marketing, putting myself out in public, writing a marketing plan, joining groups, or continuing to even do the creative work because it became boring or hard.

After recovery:

I started this blog and have been writing it since mid-2012, one small post at a time (now nearly 140 posts!). I even restarted it after taking a few months off from writing it because I felt called again.

I am embarking on learning tapestry weaving. The old messages come up as I am frustrated with my lack of knowledge especially about whether I will actually have any talent at this, but today, I love that message of 10,000 hours of practice. It puts into perspective why others succeed when I don’t. For instance, other tapestry weavers have been learning and practicing their craft for decades. They didn’t get proficient in one week, one month, or one year. Why would I?

Practicing Recovery

In our recovery, we learn that we must practice our program daily in order to stay solvent and get out of debt. To leap off of Gladwell’s comments, practice is the only way you gain skill at any task or achieve any goal.

Let’s fact it, some of us must also practice patience until we have enough money to even begin paying off our debt. That may be challenging, but there are many members who have done just that, and seeing the success of others in recovery can give new or frustrated members hope that with consistency and time, our situations will improve. The first step in DA recovery is not to incur any new unsecured debt, closely followed by getting our spending into balance, ensuring we put our needs first and live within our means.

When we begin recovery, we are often hopeless. That is actually how I usually feel when I start a new endeavor, like I will never achieve the goal or even be able to start. Luckily, in our program, we have other members who have gone before us and can lead us along this path and teach us how to sit in our discomfort, yet practice our tools one day at a time.

As with any skill worth having, recovery takes time. We each must march through day one, day two, day 138, etc. Yes, we all have unique aspects of our situation. But the truth is that we all share a common problem … and a common solution that will work as well for the person with little debt and lots of money as the person with huge debt and little money.

For today, if you feel overwhelmed about where you are in your life, just practice working the program and remind yourself that each hour you do so builds upon the previous, helping you become an expert one day at a time in your own recovery and spiritual fitness around money.

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