"I've only eaten 3000 calories this week, so WHY haven't I lost weight?"
"I don't smoke, drink, or do drugs. I SHOULD be healthy."
"I haven't had a day off in months. I DESERVE a vacation."
"I've trained hard for the past three weeks. I've EARNED this pie."
In training and in life, we often confuse performance and outcome, process and product. We fail to separate them. We feel that if we do "A", we can expect "B". When the performance does not lead to the desired outcome, we feel cheated. To make matters worse, not only do we expect specific outcomes as a result of our efforts, but we often rationalize completely unrelated and questionable choices based on our diligence. We believe that we are entitled to rewards when we have demonstrated disciplined behavior.
The harsh reality is that, despite our very best efforts, despite superior process, we cannot EXPECT successful outcomes and products. If we expect rewards, we are no different than a child who behaves well for an hour and then throws a tantrum because his mommy won't buy him a gumball. "But, I've been GOOD!" we protest, but, fortunately or unfortunately, life is more complicated than a simple system of earned rewards and punishments. Separating legitimate causation from mere correlation or symptom is harder than we'd like to believe. Often, we cannot foresee life's constraints, distractions and interruptions. This is not to say that goals, results, planning and reflection are not important - far from it. However, a preoccupation with the past and future can result in LESS attention to process, which is the only thing that is truly in the here and now... and the only thing controllable through perception and present action.
We look for applause when things go right. We look for scapegoats when things go wrong. Sometimes we get stuff, good or bad. And sometimes we do indeed DESERVE it. But, we don't get stuff, good or bad, because we deserve it. We get what we get, change courses where appropriate, and do our best to be present in the process, over and over again.