Leonardo da Vinci is the classic embodiment of the Renaissance man. He was a painter, sculptor, engineer, astronomer, anatomist, biologist, geologist, physicist, architect, philosopher, and humanist. His accomplishments were so vast that his fame was not only recognized and admired by kings of his age but has been widely revered in the centuries that followed his death.
Others through the centuries have also embodied the Renaissance ideal. Notable names such as Galileo, Newton, Donatello, and Franklin are just a few among many famous names who accomplished great things in their lifetime in a variety of fields. Their lives embodied the basic tenets of Renaissance humanism which point to the limitless capacity of mankind to develop all of their capacities to their fullest.
It is truly breathtaking to think about the capacity of mankind as a whole and the limitless potential that each one of us has within us. Each of us truly can accomplish great things, far more than we can even possibly imagine. However, it is so easy for all of us to get sidetracked in our quest to maximize our potential and accomplish our goals with the day-to-day responsibilities each of us have.
You may want to become a great pianist, scientist, author, or painter. Maybe your dreams are more financial in nature: you may want to own your own business, or become a great real estate investor, or stock trader. Whatever your dreams, ambitions, and goals may be, there are likely numerous time constraints that limit your ability to pursue those goals.
Prepare breakfast, shower, give the kids a bath, drop kids off at day care, commute to work, survive a day in the rat race, pick the kids up, prepare dinner, go to soccer practice, feed the dog, go to the store, put the kids to bed, and hopefully find some time somewhere for your significant other. These are just a few items in many people’s daily lives. Doesn’t seem to leave much room to become the next great Renaissance man or woman, does it?
A pursuit of a Renaissance ideal can become downright discouraging when you calculate how many hours are truly required to become an expert at any one specific thing in relation to how many hours you may have free in any given week. If you enter the term “how many hours to become an expert” into the search engine of your choice the popular answer that comes back is 10,000. Put another way, if you want to become an expert at something and are willing to devote two hours a day into that task then in just less than 14 years you can become an expert at it. If you somehow can find three hours a day then it will take you just over nine years.
Does it really take 10,000 hours to become an expert? Each of us has different levels of ability and talent in certain areas. It may take one person far less time to become an expert at auto repair but that same person may find it more difficult to become an expert at the piano than another. Whatever the actual number, it is safe to agree that an extensive time commitment is required to become an expert at any given task.
The Mindset for Your 2013 goals
Let’s take a look at two simple facts heading into the planning of your 2013 goals. While they may feel discouraging we must face the facts head on.
- You are likely very busy and have numerous day-to-day responsibilities that have to be taken care of.
- It requires an extensive amount of time to become an expert at any one thing
Now let’s add a simple Renaissance ideal to these facts, one that you should write down if you truly believe it:
“I believe in the limitless potential of mankind to develop all of their capacities to their fullest.”
If you believe this then you believe you can essentially set out to accomplish what you want to accomplish, it is just going to take time, something you don’t have an excess of. So how do you rectify these facts with this belief for your particular circumstance? How can you, with your limited time available, tap into your limitless potential and accomplish remarkable things?
The key for the Renaissance idealist is to look at 2013 as a down payment for future decades.
2013 – A Down Payment on the Future
If you lead a busy life with many responsibilities you should write down all of the things you want to accomplish in life and use that as a motivation board. These are your big picture items, ones that will simply serve as motivation in the coming year as you are not going to spend much actual time on most of them in the next 12 months. If you want to accomplish your life goals and tap into your true potential then you have to look at 2013 as an investment to free up time in future years.
Let’s say in 2013 you have 15-20 hours of free time a week outside the course of your normal work and family responsibilities. If you do not change any of the dynamics of your current life then in 2014 you will likely also have 15-20 hours of free time. If nothing changes at that point, then in 2015, 2016, and subsequent years you will also have roughly the same amount of free time to pursue your interests, goals, and ambitions.
So whatever talent you want to grow and maximize you will be limited in time each year to devote to that talent. If it truly takes 10,000 hours to become an expert, or even several thousand hours to become very proficient, this lack of time will limit your ability in life to pursue all of your interests.
You need to find a way to change this long-term equation so that you are not always limited by the amount of time at your disposal. If time is an issue today, then it is essential that you focus your goals in the coming year on how you can use that limited available time so that you are not always at the mercy of the rat race. You have the unlimited capacity within you; it is simply a matter of finding the time to put it to work.
Escaping the Rat Race – Your 2013 Goal
Undoubtedly there are things you could do to help find extra available time to pursue your goals and dreams in life. You likely watch too much TV, or spend too much time on hobbies, or countless other things that prevent you from maximizing your potential. If these are an issue then you should create goals for 2013 where you deem appropriate.
However, for most of us the bulk of time and energy that is spent every week is on our job…our place in the rat race. Between the commute, hours spent at work, and time spent stressing about work, we have little time left to cultivate our other talents and pursue our other passions and dreams in life. If you find yourself in this situation then your focus on goals for the coming year should be on freeing up your time in coming years so that those 15 hours a week in 2013 turn into 60-80 hours a week in following years.
The only way to truly do that is to escape the rat race. If you value a Renaissance ideal, or just want to lie in the sun for 60 hours a week, then you have to escape the rat race to free up those precious hours to spend where you deem appropriate. Time is our most precious commodity and the rat race for too many of us has been stealing that time from us. 2013 is a time for you to make a stand and prioritize your life so that sometime in the not so distant future you will be able to have the time to accomplish all you ever dreamed of becoming.
So as you sit down to make your goals for the coming year, make that goal session based entirely on how to escape the rat race. As you formulate a plan, make sub goals for 2013 that will drive and motivate you to put that plan into action. Don’t be afraid to view 2013 as an investment for the rest of your life and be willing to make the sacrifices this year to ensure that the rat race never takes a minute of your valuable time in future years.