In Jane Austen’s time, an accomplished woman had all the manners and social graces of polite society, and the skills to prove she was well-bred and well-rounded.
But to Jane Austen, “accomplished” also meant to be highly skilled at something. And ladies grew accomplished at something–like music–by practicing.
Not much has changed in 200 years: we get good at the things we practice. Researchers say that becoming really great at something takes most people 6-10 years of devoted practice. Malcolm Gladwell says in Outliers that becoming expert at a skill takes 10,000 hours of practice.
This means you can’t truly become expert at more than a handful of things, simply because of the time it takes to become proficient. You can’t effectively pursue 14 passions simultaneously if you want to develop real skill. Developing expertise demands focus.
There’s an opportunity cost to each decision. If you spend more time writing, that’s less time for photography. If you’re going to improv class, that’s time you can’t spend running. You only have so much time, so use it wisely–because you can only become expert at the things you actually practice.
There are things you can do to get the most out of your time. If you watch less tv, limit time on facebook, and don’t lose your bills, you’ll have more time to devote to more important pursuits.
What are you pursuing? Choose carefully, and go for it.
That’s the only way to become accomplished.
What do you want to be great at?