The joy of difficulty

Every large project or challenge I undertake follows a similar continuum.

  1. Initial excitement. I'm starting something new and I'm pumped about it. The world is alive with possibility.

  2. The grind. I'm cranking away. I still feel good but the end is a long way off.

  3. What have I gotten myself into? The first inkling of doubt. Faint stirrings of uncertainty.

  4. I'm not going to make it. I've entered the dark place. I'm not strong enough or smart enough to finish this thing.

  5. There's hope. It's hard to identify the exact moment after the fact, but there's always a point when dark turns to light. Despite the brutality I'm facing, this is the moment when I realize I'm going to finish.

  6. The end. It's finished. I'm proud, but also sad that the journey is over.


Whether it's a marathon, software development project, or riding 100 miles on my bike, I almost always go through these exact steps.

You'd think it was for The End but I've come to realize, it's actually for the transition between I'm not going to make it and There's hope.

It's the rush of that glistening moment that I'm going to succeed.

And you can't get it with just any task. It has to be something hard to get that rush.

With that, I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes by the poet Rilke


That something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it.