Interview with Dan: Becoming a professional golfer through 10,000 hours of deliberate practice

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Dan used to be the average 30 year-old man until April 5, 2010; that was when he quit his day-job as a commercial photographer to become a professional golfer, although he had never played 18 holes of golf in his life. He has embarked on a 10,000 hours journey that will end in December 2016, confident that success comes from practice and not from talent. Every step of the “Dan Plan” is being documented on Dan’s website and on a support network created on social media sites. Let’s see what Dan has to share with WeekPlan readers in terms of productivity and motivation more than 5 years after starting his unique project!

WeekPlan: Let’s start with the first question: was this the first time in your life when you embarked on such an out-of-the-norm adventure?

Dan: My initial reaction to this question was “Of course!”, but then I realized that when I was 20 I left university to head out on my own and travel around the world for about a year.  It wasn’t nearly the same type of quest that I am currently on, but it was groundwork for a larger “project” in my life. I am not sure how A led to B, but without the earlier exploration I am not sure I would have had the courage to embark on the current plan. It’s hard to jump off a high-dive board when you don’t know if you can swim, but when you take it one step at a time, this makes progressing through life stages seem natural.

WeekPlan: Do you remember what prompted you to start “The Dan Plan”? How did the idea grow in you?

Dan: Originally I was looking for the next challenge in life. After a number of years as a commercial photographer I had found some success, but I was ready to make a transition. I wanted to do something completely new to me in order to see how far an average person could go in a new pursuit starting later in life. I was on a road trip in Omaha, NE visiting my brother and he took me out to play a par 3 golf course on my 30th birthday. I was horrible at the sport and afterwards we were talking about whether it was nature or nurture that made someone successful in an endeavor like golf. After a lot of internal debate I decided the only way to answer this question was to quit my job and go all-in.

WeekPlan: We believe the vision one has of his own goals help provide motivation during difficult times. How did you visualize your Plan at the beginning? What helped you keep going?

Dan: When I started I had no clue what I was doing or how I was going to do it, but, as you said, I had a vision of where I wanted to be. It wasn’t immediately clear how the day-to-day would go, but having a concrete idea of where I needed to be helped actualize my interim goals and kept me on an upward path. There were numerous tough times along the way, but after a while I realized that all hard times are eventually followed by a breakthrough and an elevated time – the nature of a fluctuating world.

WeekPlan: Did you use any specific tools and techniques to stay on track? For example, how do you handle weeks when you are too busy to practice or too tired?

Dan: At first it was very tough, and by “at first” I mean the first couple of years. I didn’t understand the nature of improvement and I became frustrated at times when there would be a setback in my progress. In the same vein, I had lull days where my energy level was very low and I would feel exhausted for no apparent reason. After a while I realized that these things are cyclical and learned that there were times where it was best to push through and times when the only option was to walk away and come back with a fresh mind/body.

WeekPlan: The theory behind your plan is that skill comes from practice more than raw talent. Do you still feel the same now, more than 5 years after starting “The Dan Plan”?

Dan: After five years of this pursuit I definitely still believe that skill comes from practice. I have always believed that there are certain genetic traits that can be advantageous to specific pursuits, such as having a large amount of fast twitch muscles helping someone’s chances at being a sprinter or on the contrary a composition of slow twitch muscles aiding in distance running.  Outside of extreme examples of very specific athletic pursuits the main difference between success and failure is amount of work put in and the willingness to accept and understand failure.

WeekPlan: Have you been enticed to start new ideas / plans during that time? I often have ideas that get me excited momentarily. What allowed you to stay focused on “The Dan Plan”?

Dan: There are always new ideas and thoughts. I have had loads of ideas in the past five years, but I told myself that I would see this through so that it is keeping my on track for what I want to do in the coming future.  I enjoy what I do and still have so much to learn.

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Getting First Things Done
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How to manage your time so that you make real progress towards what really matters.