The inevitability of long term goals is that you will face moments where it seems like the task you’ve set for yourself is too large, and that you’ll never accomplish what you want. These slumps happen all the time, and I’ve found that they usually occur – perhaps somewhat ironically – after a stretch of good progress. What once was novel and fun to work on now seems to be a lot of work for only marginal gains.
It’s at this point that you need two things. First, you need a decent amount of discipline to keep chugging along and doing the work that is needed. For myself, this means getting up early to run even when I feel like doing nothing (particularly as the weather starts to morph into winter conditions). It also means carving out a chunk of time each week to write, even though I’m often loaded with homework that needs to be completed. Finding the discipline to do these things when it seems like you’re not even making progress is what will get you to that next level of progress.
The second thing you need is the ability to change what you do in order to give yourself that mental switch to get back to feeling good about your passion. While training requires some sort of routine (I would never be able to run around 125 km per week without one), it’s dangerous to get too complacent. Doing so makes your chosen craft to seem like work and just another thing to get done in the day. Getting in this mindset can bring you a lot of frustration and ultimately kill your passion for what you do. Therefore, finding a way to infuse some sort of novelty into your craft is only a good thing. For myself, that’s doing different workouts and finding new trails to run. I’m not doing anything stupid just because it’s new, but I try to bring variety into my training because it keeps me loving the sport.
For many of us, the wish is to keep on doing our craft for a good portion of our lives. Consequently, our goal should be to do things that keep our love for our craft going. Conversely, we should avoid the things that will make us hate doing our favourite work, mainly overloading ourselves. If we want to keep chugging along with our work, it’s essential to work through the slumps and persevere.