How Long It Takes to Master a Skill

Jason Lam
2 min readJun 8, 2021
Photo by Tyler Martin on Unsplash

Whether you’re running a mile or a marathon, each distance will require a set amount of steps. Because your stride stretches only so far, the real variable for how long it will take to complete either distance will depend on the pace that you run at and how much time you invest running in the right direction.

So how long does it take to master a skill?

The answer? It’s up to you.

Whether it’s writing a 500 word short story or a 50,000 word novel, the first draft will still require meeting that word count minimum. Every word after is an attempt at a new draft, an endeavor towards higher quality. Mastery towards that final draft won’t change the total number of words or drafts that need to be written. So the only variable that you can determine is how fast you write each word and draft.

Speed x Time = Distance

Patience will be critical to embrace the process with enthusiasm. While diligence is necessary to ensure constant progress.

It helps to put perfection aside most of the time, to instead focus on the process of putting in reps and trying to master each rep, to make the work of practicing a practice. Because if can narrow your focus on the rep in front of you, deliberately aiming towards perfection without rep after rep requiring it as an immediate outcome for showing up, eventually you’ll have reached your 10,000th repetition and achieved mastery.

How long it takes to master a skill — a combination of speed and time — eventually becomes how you master the skill as well.

Don’t lose sight of the fact that as long as you keep putting in the work, one step at a time, reaching one degree higher in altitude with each one, eventually you will have reached the peak you’ve been climbing towards.