The 100 Hour Rule
It occurs to me that there is a certain percentage of the readership here that has been reading Girls Chase for a fairly long time but not taking much or any action.
Some guys work on their fundamentals enough to get more attraction, but have difficulty ever talking to new women.
Some guys view all this self-improvement hoopla as something of a curiosity to be read about, enjoyed, and perhaps considered, but not something to be done, at least not right now.
Some guys meet women in their social circles, but not really in the way that Peter discusses in his series on social circle; more in a just freeform, unguided, I'll-meet-women-whenever-they-meet-me kind of way, that doesn't lead to a whole bunch of outstanding results but does lend itself nicely to ending up fixated on one or two women you just can't seem to get.
For those readers - all the guys who'd like to start, someday maybe, or even right now but just can't seem to get past their approach anxiety no matter how much they read or how much they do, I'd like to suggest something that's been a boon to me in skill building of all types, classes, and varieties: something I call the 100 hour rule.
The brain is a brilliant, beautiful, wonderful machine, and your subconscious brain is aware of and can do a lot of things that are so far beyond the capabilities of your conscious brain it's hard to fathom.
Everything from picking out a home based on gut feelings vs. logic (gut feelings - your subconscious's assessment - win over logic - your conscious's assessment - nearly every time, with gut feeling home buyers happier with their home purchase even 10 years later than logical checklist people) to being able to walk properly or throw a paper ball into a wastebasket (try doing that when everyone is watching you with a lot riding on it and you slip into "full consciousness" mode)... your subconscious is very good, and knows a lot of things that you ("you" here referring to your conscious mind) do not.
However, there are also certain things your subconscious is absolutely horrible about, and one of them is giving you the freedom to learn new skill sets.
Why the Brain Fears New, Hard Things
Most people's brains love new things that are easy.
Depending on your levels of thrill-seeking, that might be anything from riding a roller coaster to popping a new video game onto your screen. If it's easy, new, and acceptably low risk for whatever you consider low risk to be, your brain will have zero qualms about doing it - and, in fact, will even encourage you to.
At some point, though, you're going to hit a point where new things start to look scary.
Where that point is is highly subjective from person to person, and subject to subject. I knew a woman who had no fear whatsoever about getting on the back of a motorcycle behind the motorcycle rider without a helmet and doing 100 miles per hour, but who wouldn't touch video games because she was afraid of becoming addicted to them. I've known men who regularly rushed out into combat situations with bullets whizzing past their heads from other men trying to kill them and who found this an adrenaline rush, but who couldn't walk up to women they didn't know because they found this to be too intimidating.
So, there's a big, subjective element to it, and it's very much dependent on both your own base anxiety levels, as well as on what you (for whatever reasons, usually based on experience or lack of experience) view as "risky" or "not risky."
But there's another aspect, too, and it's your perception of the probability of reward.
Some examples of easy rewards (depending on your tastes and experiences):
You may see a new blockbuster movie coming out of your favorite genre, and be very excited - because your brain perceives a big emotional payoff from watching, relative to a low risk / low effort investment to get that payoff
You may see your favorite sports team is winning recently, and decide to start tuning in for games more often - low risk / low effort, high reward (emotional boost)
You may see Space Mountain at Disneyland and feel a surge of adrenaline to climb aboard, reasoning that it's going to be perfectly safe and easy to do - low risk / low effort - but tons of excitement (high reward)
Once you're good with women and get regular results, you'll see a pretty girl somewhere and be juiced to go talk to her - the risk is quite low (you maybe get rejected - big deal!), the effort is very low (just walk up and say "hi"), but the potential reward (this pretty girl naked in your bed, or on your arm as your new girlfriend) is sky high
These things all change as your experiences, skills, and abilities change. If you never go on amusement park rides, the idea of a roller coaster ride in the dark (Space Mountain) is going to sound horrifying to you, most likely... and it's going to flip your "danger" signals.
The brain is always asking itself three questions, in any given situation:
- How big is the risk?
- How much effort is being demanded?
- How large is the probable payoff?
The bigger the perceived risk and perceived effort, and the lower the perceived probable payout, the less likely you are to do anything.
Meeting women as a beginner, like anything else, is subject to this same calculation... and if it feels to your brain like social rejection is a big risk that your reputation or ego simply cannot handle, and it feels to your brain like a colossal amount of work is going to be needed before you can turn strangers into lovers or girlfriends, and it feels like the likely payout of your efforts is going to be nothing - or worse than nothing (a stack of rejections) - you're likely to talk yourself out of doing something altogether.
Why bother doing something hard, risky, and unlikely to provide much - or any - payoff?
Goals as New Thought Targets
One of the things you'll hear me recommend regularly is that men - especially newer men, who aren't that skilled or experienced with women yet - set goals for themselves every time they go out. Just a 2 or 3 small little goals every time you go out is enough, although I think it's also wise to have a handful of larger goals you're working on too, though you won't really take these with you when you go out.
The benefit of goals is both to keep you focused on what you're working on, and to serve as distraction from the "scary stuff."
When you go out to meet new women and take no goals with you (and you're inexperienced and afraid), the moment you look at a woman and consider approaching her, your mind starts going, "Oh God, I'd better not blow it; OH man, I'd better do this right; oh boy, oh boy, I'd better not act all nervous and choke," and pretty soon you've lost all nerve altogether and do not approach.
However, when you go out to meet new women and you take goals with you, when you want to approach a girl you get thoughts much more like this: "Oh man, I'd better do this right; oh wait, well, what does it matter, my goal tonight is to open 4 new women, not to find a wife and get married. Quit being silly and go complete your goals."
Because you change the focus from the amorphous "Go out and get the biggest success imaginable with this girl or else you're a total failure" to the concrete "Go out and accomplish this little goal that's just on the range of achievability for me, and don't worry about anything beyond that", you're suddenly able to do this, because you're biting off a lot less than you otherwise would be.
Well, just like we can do this to get ourselves moving on small things, like approaching a new woman or trying out a new amusement park ride or speaking in front of a crowd of people, we can use a bigger version of it to get us moving in a more general way, and get us forming the commitment we need to really excel at something - that hundred-hour rule I mentioned at the start of this article.
In his guest post here on how to create a habit, Robert King mentions that it takes about 30 days to fully implement a new habit.
In my experience, and from lots of things I've read, to make sure that new habit sticks, you need about 12 weeks - that's three months, or 90 days.
That's the point where it stops being something you have to go kick your butt to get yourself to do, and deliberate on, and convince yourself over, and becomes something you just do, without thinking about it, because it's part of your routine.
That's when the execution of the thing becomes easy, regular, and
natural for you, and the ball is really rolling and you will
consistently get better at it because now you're always doing it.
So, you can embark on something new - but it may not last all that long. If you want to make sure it does, you've got to make it to 12 weeks with something.
But when that something is hard, feels risky, and doesn't seem to offer a whole lot in terms of near-term payoffs, how do you motivate yourself to make it over the 12-week hump?
The 100 Hour Rule
I came up with a rule to challenge myself, and I designed it to circumvent my propensity to give up on hard things with low payoffs too soon, and get myself to a base level of skill I could then use to either continue building on the skill, or at least have a basic understanding of a thing and not be a complete novice on it anymore.
I call this the "100 Hour Rule."
The hundred hour rule is this: you pick ONE thing you really want to learn how to do, and get good at, and get some proficiency at, and you pledge to putting in 100 hours of training on it.
That's it. Not more than 100 hours of training. Not learning specific elements of it, or achieving specific results.
You just commit to 100 hours of DOING the thing, and after that, if you want to, you can give up, walk away, and never do the thing again.
This, for me, alleviates most of the issues with doing something new that's hard and doesn't offer a lot of immediate payoff:
It gives you a clear end point where you can walk away still feeling like a winner (once you reach 100 hours of practice), so you know that this isn't something you're going to have to do FOREVER if it isn't working out for you
It gives you a concrete payoff that you can achieve and know HOW to achieve (hitting that 100-hour mark and completing your objective), so that no matter what other payoffs may or may not be associated with the actual thing you're doing itself, there's one you KNOW you can hit - 100 hours - if you just put the time in
It gets you working on something long enough that you're GOING to develop some base level of skill in it, even if you're starting off as a pure beginner. At the worst, you walk away a LOT more competent, proficient, and knowledgeable in the thing than you went in being (the difference between someone with 0 hours of experience in something and someone with 100 hours of experience in something is STARK); at the best, you hit 100 hours and say, "Whoa... I'm actually getting the hang of this! Let me see if I can reach TWO hundred hours!"
It's important that you're completely, absolutely fine walking away at 100 hours. Your goal can't be, "I'm going to do 100 hours, and then after I finish that, I'm going to do 250 hours." If that's your goal, then your goal isn't really 100 hours, is it? Now it's 250 hours... which is a lot more to bite off and chew.
The goal NEEDS to be, "I will do 100 hours, and then I will stop, and reassess if this is something I want to keep doing, or if I want to hang up my spurs."
You must be giving yourself an end point at which you decide whether you're going to continue or not.
The motivation to put in those 100 hours ultimately comes from the motivation to achieve freedom again - the freedom from having to keep doing this thing until those 100 hours are reached. Once they're reached, you're free, and can do whatever you want - even if all you want is to walk away.
A Brief Anecdote
Over the years, I've started and stopped several times with Krav Maga, the Israeli close quarters defense system that trains you to have an automatic response to attackers and break attacks and counterattack on instinct.
I took a free Krav intro class back in 2007; but I was so tired and worn out by the end of it that I was unable to drag myself back.
In 2009, I took another Krav intro class, and this time I signed up for a few months, and made it to a handful of classes... before my job told me I needed to start attending training seminars all over the U.S. Midwest, and after that Krav was a memory again.
Earlier this year, I signed up for Krav Maga once again, and once
again, like that class in 2007, the first class kicked my butt. My head
was spinning and I was almost ready to keel over... I hadn't realized
how out of shape I was. I LOVE lifting weights... but I HATE cardio.
Always have. I move slow in everything I do, and when I have to run
around a lot, well... my body just isn't use to that. But I stuck
around for a second class, and then I signed up for a year's
membership, and at the same time, I made a commitment to myself: 100 hours.
The same commitment I'd used to get over the initial hump of learning
many other things, too.
A few classes in, I got really sick, and then I was on travel for a while. By the time I was back and could attend Krav, it'd been a few months, and I really didn't want to, and all I could think about was how hard it was, and how tired I was, and how weak and pathetic it made me feel.
Eventually though, I dragged myself back, embarrassed at how much time had gone by and the fact that I was stuck at a mere 12 hours out of my 100. And then I started going. Then going more. Then going more.
I picked up a stomach flu from some poorly prepared food I ate, and was out of commission for a few weeks.
But as soon as I was no longer attached to the toilet, I was back in class again.
I'm well along my way now to 100 hours, and I'm pretty confident I'm going to get there well before my year of membership is up.
Maybe at that point, I decide to keep going, and see how many hours I can get in before my membership expires... and maybe I'll renew again after.
Maybe I decide that 100 hours is enough for now, and it's time for me to take a break from Krav and go back to weight lifting.
Maybe I decide to take a little vacation, and push off the decision about whether to continue after I get back from that.
I don't know what happens after I reach 100 hours, and that's the point: at 100 hours, I get my freedom back, and I can decide if I want to commit myself further, if I want to do something different, or if I don't want to do anything at all.
And at this point, I'm both looking forward to it, and enjoying Krav a lot more, because there's no more deliberation about whether to go or not.
The only thing I'm worried about is when can I go and put a few more hours in to get myself to 100.
Using the 100 Hour Rule
There are a few conditions you'll want to follow to use this rule properly.
Only have ONE (1) 100 hour task at a time. I don't care how amazing, disciplined, and fantastic you are, if you have more than one task you're trying to get your first 100 hours on at any given time, you're going to run off the track and come to a halt. Doing something new that you have little prior experience with is HARD. If you say to yourself, "I'm going to do 100 hours working out, and 100 hours meeting new women, until I reach that limit on both," and you've never really done either of those things before, you're going to end up taking a stroll down washout lane, I almost guarantee you. Pick one that you're firmly committed to 100 hours on - you can still dabble in the other in the meantime and set smaller goals, but don't take on TWO 100 hour goals... just have one. After you hit 100 hours on one, you can do 100 hours on the other, if you really want to do two.
Make sure your objective is to STOP at 100 hours and reconsider. Not to do more. Not to pile on. Not to then plow on to the 10,000 hours needed for achieve mastery. The more you pile on mentally, the more your 100 hours balloons into 500 hours, then 1,000 hours, then 10,000 hours, and the payoff becomes unreachable. It's too far off in the future; the results are too uncertain; and your brain's going to start asking itself, "Do we REALLY want to put 10,000 hours into this? I mean, what if it doesn't even work?" You can spare 100 hours; you can't spare 1,000. Don't balloon your goal - know that at 100 hours, you will STOP, and can continue if you want to then, or you can walk away, satisfied with having learned a new skill to the baseline you get after 100 hours of practice... and that this choice will not be made until you reach that hundred hour mark.
Don't try to do it all at once. You've got a week off, and you're going to do 100 hours this week? Well, while I admire your enthusiasm, that's not going to solidify a habit you can use going forward, it's not going to be a sustainable part of your routine (i.e., it's not going to fit with all the other pieces in your life), and there's only so much the mind can learn in a small amount of time - the brain needs time to process new lessons and learn new patterns, and if you try to stuff all your learning into too short a period of time, you won't learn a whole lot. Spurts of a day spent on something here and a day spent on something there can be fun and educational, and these can sometimes serve as the catalysts to get you going, but you don't want to try to do everything in too short a time period, as that's going to feel like you're rushing to get it over with... and whether you do get it over with or not, you won't be much better off for it.
Pick something you really believe in. Don't do something that you just DON'T want to do and don't think is going to be useful or good for your life. Pick something that's either going to be awesomely cool to be able to do, or is going to be super useful to know, or is going to be a lot of fun to learn. You might, say, put 100 hours into learning snowboarding. You might never take another snowboarding lesson again after that, or deliberately work on your snowboarding skill set, but any time you want to go hit the slopes with friends thereafter, you'll be able to do this and be reasonably assured of having a good time and not tumbling down the mountainside in a giant snowball. Or, you might never learn another thing about computer programming, but if you take 100 hours to practice all you can about a given programming language that the people who work for you use, you're going to have a much easier time managing them, understanding and appreciating the work they do, and hiring people who know what they're talking about (and firing ones who don't).
Book learning doesn't count. I almost hate having to add this in here, but come on - book learning doesn't count. You may have spent 200 hours reading Girls Chase, but if you've only spent 4 hours approaching real women in real life, you've still got another 96 to go.
How Awesome is This?
I think it's pretty awesome.
For me at least, this is a very easy way to get yourself to a base level of proficiency in a number of different skills.
Some of those may be skills that you very much want to practice beyond 100 hours and really develop some expertise on.
Some of them may be skills in areas where you're just not very strong, and you want to shore up one of your weaknesses so it isn't such a problem for you anymore.
You may be excited after reading this, and ready to pick one (and ONLY one) thing and commit yourself to 100 hours on it.
Wait. Hold off a day or so. Let the emotion die down.
Don't commit yourself until you can commit yourself calmly, because emotionally-made commitments frequently get abandoned as soon as the emotion they were made with disappears.
Make a calm, clear-headed commitment to putting in 100 hours of practice and practical training into something (NOT book learning, or "talking about it" -doing ONLY; it's the only thing that counts for this - if you aren't doing, it doesn't count), and then go do it, and start the day you commit so you're already rolling.
And, have fun (or at least, have fun once you get past the first few "I don't want to do this!" occasions)!
Once you start learning something - actually learning it, and doing it - you'll find you end up
going surprising... and often unexpected...
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