I ran my first 15k (9.3 miles) this weekend, and it didn't go as well as I'd hoped. The official race results say it took me about 1 hour and 20 minutes to finish with a pace of about 8:38 per mile.
At first, I was pretty upset with myself because I hoped to be much faster. I tried to go faster, and kept telling myself, "Ok, it's time to start moving!"... but that extra boost just never came.
Then I talked to a friend of mine, and he reminded me of a pretty important detail: I was recovering from the flu, so I was probably dehydrated and of course I didn't run a very fast race. I probably shouldn't have run at all, so finishing with a decent time was actually a great result.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized there were a lot of positive things about the race, even if I didn’t run a great time. I ran the race with two friends, and it was fun to see them run well and to encourage each other. I ran further than I've ever run before, and I felt pretty good despite the flu. I even experienced my first "runner's high", which I previously thought was just a myth.
Plus, I went to Chick-Fil-A for my post-race meal, and I ordered enough food to feed a small family.
There were a lot of positive things about the race, even if my time wasn't what I had hoped for.
Sometimes the value in doing something is the thing itself.
I think this applies to our work, too. It can be tempting to look for "business value" or "promotion potential" behind every little thing we do, but that takes all the fun out of it.
Don't forget to look for opportunities to do work that you enjoy, just for the sake of having some fun. Not only does that make it easier to finish the hard things, but you might find a whole new fun dimension that you can add to your work.