I have 11 days until my marathon, yet I have been training for marathons in one way or another for the last four years. I have three years work experience and a couple of engineering degrees. Kind of a dichotomy, on the one hand this physical effort I have worked hard for, while I am not nearing the end, I think we can say I'm past half way on the absolute best performance timeline. On the other hand, in engineering, three years and two degrees is hardly past halfway and I have not really come close to finishing my engineering goals.
For those of you that aren't goal orientated, I don't know what to say. For those that are goal orientated, I hope you understand the concept of building a ladder of goals that ends someplace amazing. For example, qualifying for the Olympic marathon trials would be great, but it's not going to happen for me in Chicago this year. I can't really imagine running faster than 2:23:00 this time. So this marathon kind of becomes one more rung on the ladder. Go out, work hard, run within myself, PR by several minutes.
A long process can also be though of as cooking. Maybe you start with a steak, and to make it the best you can you throw in onions and mushrooms, then some salt and pepper, a tiny bit of paprika, then a little butter just before the end. What starts out as a simple prospect requires numerous ancillary aspects or processes. If you want to run well, read about great coaching and fast athletes, in dozens of books and hundreds of articles. Each book is like a spice, each book is a little ancillary process that contributes to the overall development.
Cooking, running, engineering, relationship building, these are all similar. To have success at a long process involves many variables, a large amount of experience. Whatever you do, if it was easy everyone would do it.