What? Did I hear that correctly? Although it was over two months ago, I can remember quite clearly my reaction when Seung-Hyun Park (Korean 6P) finished counting the score and told me I had won in a simultaneous game with him at the 33rd Canadian Open. That was my first real game with a professional player. Sure, I had a six-stone handicap and he was playing between eight and eleven other players during our game, but it was a proud moment for me and I felt a strong sense of confidence in my games throughout the day. Overall it was a very motivating experience – what motivates you?
Despite this motivating experience, my progress in Go seems to have halted. Although I played a game now and then, I have barely studied Go at all over the last month or so. Naturally, I stopped improving – I lost focus of my goal. At first I had no time to study, then I slowly forgot about the goal (and you may have noticed the lack of articles here recently). I was still aware of it, but it seemed that with every passing day the goal was pushed further and further into the back of my mind, no longer a priority. When something like this happens to you, it is important to stay motivated.
What is motivation, anyway? There are many psychological theories into the specifics of what motivation is and where it comes from (I would encourage you to research these theories on your own; there are many interesting ideas which apply to your life). One way or another, motivation is our desire to achieve our goals.
To improve in Go, you need to stay motivated. Simply playing the game for fun and enjoyment, although necessary, is not enough. As with almost any skill, you need to want to improve, and constantly chase that desire.
I have begun re-reading Lessons in the Fundamentals of Go by Toshiro Kageyama for a third time, at a much slower pace than I have been reading it previously (about one chapter every two days, and reading each chapter twice before moving on to the next one). I am also continuing to read Tesuji and Life and Death from The Elementary Go Series by James Davies. Along with playing a serious game whenever possible and studying tsumego, I hope to resume my previous study habits and start improving again.