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How One Hour a Day x Three Years Can Change Your Life

August 12, 2010

What if you committed just one hour a day to work on that dream project you’ve been thinking about all those years?

That’s what Geoff Edgers did.

Edgars was a 38 year old arts reporter for the Boston Globe who had reached that enviable point in life where he was settled down with a good job, a nice house and family. But he couldn’t shake this dream he had to make a movie.

Not just any movie. He was obsessed with the band, The Kinks, and had this crazy idea that he could reunite them by making a movie about the legendary founding brothers, Ray and Dave Davies. The problem was that he knew nothing about making movies, nor did he have any money to do it. But he decided to spend an hour a day working on it.

Three years later, he had a movie documentary in the can, called “Do it Again.” It premiered at the International Film Festival in Rotterdam to smashing reviews.

Of course, there are about a hundred thousand little details and obstacles and victories between here and there, but the point is, he took a risk, made a commitment, started something, and saw it through to completion. But not in a way that would have broken apart his entire career and family. He spent an hour a day for three years.

“If you wonder if you could write a book or run a marathon, don’t waste a minute calculating your chances. Instead, spend an hour a day on your dream. It’s how I suddenly found myself on a bridge in London, cameras rolling, wondering what took me so long.”

Breaking it down.

Okay, so let’s say he spent one hour a day, say six days a week (I’ll give him credit for resting on the Sabbath), over three years. With two weeks off per year, that’s 150 weeks.

1 x 6 x 150 = 900 hours.

That’s the equivalent of about four months full time.

If you think about, that’s a lot of hours to get something done.

Six Reasons Why One Hour a Day Can Change Your Life

Whether you are thinking about writing a screenplay, training for the senior olympics, or starting an online yarn business, one hour a day over a longer time frame can be a realistic way to get things up and running. Here’s the thing about one hour a day:

1. It’s enough of a commitment to show you are serious. A bunch of sagging middle-age guys around my office have been doing a fitness program one hour a day for the last two months. Every single one of them is starting to look great – losing 15, 20, 30 pounds. They are being transformed. But it is only because they all got together and swore that if they signed up for this thing, they were going to commit. And it shows.

2. It really gets you focused. By putting aside a chunk of time each day, you are telling your brain: “Hey, this is important!” Although you are physically devoting just one hour, your brain will start working around the clock thinking about it. Soon you’ll see your progress accelerate as the strange synergy of the subconscious mind kicks in.

3. It is realistic to find one hour a day. You can get up an hour earlier, use your lunch hour, or shut yourself away for an hour when you get home from work. Or, you could stop doing something else that is less important: reading the paper, watching TV, posting on Facebook, even exercising. It’s a trade off. I know you’re busy, but so am I, and there are no excuses for not being able to carve out one stinking hour in the day.

4. You can actually get something done in one hour. One hour is substantial enough to allow you to really accomplish something. And since you are doing it every day, you can come back tomorrow and have a sense of continuity with what you were working on.

5. It’s easier to get friends and family to support. What do you think would have happened if Geoff came home one day and said to his wife, “I’m quitting my job to go figure out how to make a movie about a band from the 70’s.” Right. You know the answer to that one. We’ve all got obligations at home to consider: financial support, being with the kids, fixing the deck, hanging out with your spouse, etc. etc. But one hour a day to achieve your dream? I think your spouse and kids could support that, and you can still spend quality time with your family. Rather than making it a big production that’s all about you, bring the family in to share the dream and support the hour.  

6. Three years is a realistic expectation for a time frame. I had once heard Seth Godin say that if you are serious about blogging, don’t even think about starting it unless you are going to commit to three years. Because no matter how good you are, it takes that long to establish a foundation, a community of followers, a reputation and the right visibility. Nothing substantial happens in a flash. Three years? Yes, that’s long enough to see some kind of result.

So come on. Do something fantastic. Stop waiting around for the right time to show up. Get started today with just one hour, and then keep it going. See what happens.

 The time is going to pass by anyway, whether you do this or not.

And I’ll go first. You see, I’ve been thinking about writing this book

Photo by Nancy Rosback.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. August 12, 2010 7:27 pm

    Yes! The book! I’m too late to order the first copy, but sign me up 🙂 I like the overall concept of this. Another application might be to habit formation which I find exceptionally difficult (except for bad habits of course). A bit different I know, but there are some analogous principles Great thoughts in any case.

  2. August 12, 2010 8:06 pm

    I have committed to 15 minutes a day of Bible reading — and its changed my life. I wonder if I could commit to three other 15 minute promises and have four changes in my life?

  3. August 12, 2010 8:28 pm

    very persuasive…

  4. August 12, 2010 9:21 pm

    Okay, Brad, time to go for it. You’re out of the chocks. When you need a little support, just call us.

  5. August 15, 2010 7:43 pm

    Bravo! Write on! I mean RIGHT ON! Git’r dun! and all that kinda jazz. I approve and applaud your decision heartily and agree with your other correspondents. Seems to me like you got a standing ovation! Now, don’t feel any pressure at all. But, remember, buddy Brad, you put yourself on the line and now you got a lot of friends who WILL hold you accountable. When you gonna publish? ~donkimrey

  6. August 15, 2010 11:06 pm

    Rats! Now I just feel convicted about all of the projects I’ve thought about doing. My problem is, I have ideas but no idea how to get to the finished product. Wish I could get a revelation like yours for your book idea. Anyway, you definately need to write it, since you’ve been given the gift of an outline and all. : )

  7. August 16, 2010 9:52 am

    Very Encouraging! I should tape this to my wall. Maybe I will.

  8. August 19, 2010 8:56 am

    Yes, one hour a day writes a book!

  9. August 21, 2010 5:39 am

    I have put off my book for entirely too long. I can tell you that one hour every day would do it wonders. I just need to cut some fat here and there to make room. Looks like yoga is going to have to take a back seat. Hello novel, here I come.

  10. August 21, 2010 5:39 am

    thanks…makes me want to sit down and get to it!

  11. August 25, 2010 9:20 am

    What a great idea. It’s so daunting thinking about a 900 hours project, but not so much when thinking about an hour a day. Imagine if we used that hour a day to make a real difference for God. Great post and reminder that every journey starts with a single step.

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