In the bodybuilding circles there is an understanding that anyone starting off will overestimate their physical transformation that can happen with one year of work and will underestimate what can happen with ten years of work. A bias like that in something like bodybuilding where clear visible results can be seen speaks volumes about the way the human brain is wired. One can imagine the difficulty in managing expectations in spirituality where everything outward remains the same and there is transformation within. Humans have traditionally evolved from hunter-gatherers and that part of the brain continues to do cost-benefit calculations for each of the things we do. We are mostly focused on outcome and not on the process. In my experience it is best to start any spiritual practice with an open mind without expectations. It is also incidentally the most difficult.
With spiritual practices there is also the problem of unrealistic notions that just lead to further confusion. Everyone comes with their biases and conditioning which results in either dismissing the whole thing as a hoax or wanting to have superpowers on the first day. So actually coming to whole thing with a sense of devotion and process orientation may be the first and possibly the biggest hurdle. I remember being totally lost and confused with thousand different views and opinions. When one does not know the terrain, how can one know which is the right direction. That is why a Guru is needed. Otherwise it could have been done by reading books and trying on one’s own.
I am possibly the last person who would go to someone for help. I have graduated with top honours from one of the top business schools in the country. I had also put in a lot of effort and transformed to a enviable physique to the astonishment of the people who knew me. However during all these endeavours, whether it was my foolhardiness or arrogance, I did not feel the need to have a personal guide. I just have always had a strong will to the point of it becoming an obstacle for me on occasion.
However in the inner realm, things work differently. There is too much information out there. There is also deliberate obfuscation created by prakriti to ensure only the ones who are ready for this knowledge have access to it. I remember my family being pious and devout and never understood the importance of the same. Now I realize that devotion and intense longing can be the single most important drivers which can guide one through the obstacles on this path. As my Guruji says, shraddha and bhava are extremely essential to go on this journey.