Most of us start practicing a craft because we have a goal. However, the ones who stay in the craft stay because they love the process.
It’s relatively easy to set yourself a goal and stick with it. After all, you only have to pledge a small amount of time in order to get the payoff. You can see this from those who run marathons over four hours and more on their first attempt. Realistically, they probably weren’t as ready for a marathon as they could have been by beginning with shorter distances and building up the strength needed. But instead, they wanted the payoff of “training” for a marathon and then completing it, no matter the time. That is why you see so many runners hitting over four hours for the marathon. It’s in most of them to go faster, but they chose to forgo the long and slow buildup for something much quicker. Then they’re happy to call themselves a marathoner, even though they’ve put in a fraction of the work that others have1.
Being a true master at a craft isn’t about the quick rewards. It’s about the process of getting better. This isn’t something that can be seen over the course of days and weeks. Instead, it can be observed on the scale of many months, even years. Improvement doesn’t happen rapidly and at a quick rate. Instead, it’s a slow and steady march forward.
You need to be driven by the process. Goals are there to help you along the process, but they shouldn’t be the only thing to motivate you.
Let’s be clear here. I’m not trying to say slow runners aren’t “real runners”. What I am trying to say is that many runners don’t try to hit their potential because they want to say they’ve run a marathon, instead of putting the years of hard work in to accomplish that feat. ↩