The Art of Manliness' interview with Ed Latimore (mentioned already here) gave me another concept, one of the most stunning and powerful I can remember hearing in a long time:
If you do not like the process, you will not succeed.
Latimore's point is a profound one. If you do not enjoy the process of becoming better at something, you will ultimately fail in it because all you interested in is the end product - and if that product is terrible or unsuccessful, you will eventually stop doing it, because of course who wants to do something that ultimately ends in a failure.
Mind you, the enjoyment of process is not just something that comes easily. Repetitive practice and action of any kind often goes through periods where there is no enjoyment involved. But buried within that grind should come something that we take pleasure in, even if it just the fact that we were able to do it again - all on the road to an ultimate goal, even if it remains unachievable in our lifetimes.
Think on it: Any activity you have done and enjoyed required far more time that you probably intended: the garden that needed to be tended every day, the writing that takes place every evening, the golf swings or basketball shots or heavy weight throws, the (literally) thousands of draws and sheathings without a single cut. If we did not somehow like this part - seeing the garden progress, occasionally writing the outstanding essay, visibly doing better as we practiced, or earning a commendation from our sensei - we would have stopped doing it a long time ago.
So the challenge to myself - and you - is twofold:
1) Look at our activities and our life. Do we find pleasure in the daily doing of them, the process?
2) If not, we have two choices: to either find where that enjoyment is and embrace it, or to acknowledge that we do not really care for it and give it up for something we would enjoy.