Have you ever hiked up a mountain?
It’s exhilarating on both ends and maddening in the middle.
The beginning is great. You’ve just gotten started and you’re full of energy (and Clif bars). Let’s do this!
Reaching the summit feels great too. You can see what you just did, and what you just did was climb a freaking mountain. With your feet. Booyah.
It’s the middle that’s rough.
The middle is full of long stretches where you don’t feel like you’re making progress. You can’t see the ground, but you can’t see the summit, either. You’re tired and you want to go home. Problem is, if you quit, you have to hike all the way back down. So you keep going.
Then you reach an overlook with a clear view to the ground below. You can’t believe how far you’ve come, and now you’re feeling pretty good. Maybe you do have the energy to make it to the top.
Practicing can be the same way, can’t it? It’s a daily grind, and perspective is hard to come by. It’s hard to notice our progress, so we start to wonder if we’re making any.
We have to create opportunities to notice the progress we’ve made. Recording ourselves and keeping a practice journal are two ways to do this, and there are many others.
It’s easy to quit in the middle, but expecting the difficulty makes it easier to deal with. If we focus on the progress we’ve already made, we can soon be standing on the summit, looking down at the ground far below.