Back when I played tournament chess I remember walking down the hotel hallway after winning my first chess tournament and thinking, "Really? That's it?" It just seemed so anticlimatic. I studied for hours and days and months, followed by playing 5 long games over a weekend, and I lost less than anyone else. That's it? Was the effort and sacrifice worth it? It didn't feel like it.
I didn't think of it as a sacrifice at the time. I enjoyed playing and studying chess. I enjoyed meeting up with my friends at tournaments. I enjoyed winning and hated losing. And I was relatively successful. But the opportunity cost of the time spent studying chess instead of going out with friends in high school was a sacrifice. But perhaps a sacrifice I would make again anyway. I did have fun.
So, now when I finish a creative project like programming or writing or an artistic pursuit, I still have a little of the, "Really? Is that it?" in the back of my mind. The difference now is that I am more content to have spent my time doing something that is challenging, new, and enjoyable. Even if that is it and few people will care if I did it or not.