The death of any goal is the middle, the messy middle.
Embarking on a new endeavor can be both exciting and daunting. A new goal is bright and shiny. The novelty pumps you up to get you started. But what do you have to push you along in the middle of a goal, when the novelty is dimmed, when other things are looking brighter and shinier?
First, let’s look at 3 reasons why the middle is harder than the start of a goal.
#1. When you start, your motivation is naturally high.
The middle is where initial enthusiasm fades. At the beginning of pursuing a goal, there is typically a surge of enthusiasm and motivation. However, as time progresses and the initial excitement wears off, it becomes harder to sustain the same level of energy and commitment. The middle of a goal can feel monotonous and mundane, making it harder to stay focused and committed.
As the novelty fades, the reality of the work required to achieve the goal becomes more apparent.
There are two kinds of work; wish work and work work.
- Buying running shoes is wish work.
- Running a mile is work work.
- Hiring a business coach is wish work.
- Implementing what you learned in coaching is work work.
- Signing up for a book writing course is wish work.
- Writing 10 pages every day is work work.
Day one of a goal is 100% wish work and 0% work work.
Day 2 of a goal is 80% wish work and 20% work work. You’re moving out of the dream and realize you gotta start – one small step.
Day 20 of a goal is 50% wish work and 50% work work.
Day 100 of a goal is 1% wish work and 99% work work
#2. When you start, the real work (aka work work) hasn’t shown up yet.
In the early stages of pursuing a goal, progress can be more easily visible and measurable, because it’s wish work.. You may experience quick wins or noticeable progress that provide a sense of accomplishment.
However, during the middle phase, progress may not be as obvious, and it can feel like you’re working hard without seeing significant results. This can be demotivating and make the goal seem more elusive.
The middle of a goal is where fatigue sets in and you will have to find the energy to overcome some of the toughest obstacles in achieving your goal. These unexpected challenges and setbacks can be discouraging and test your resilience. The middle often involves a prolonged period of effort and hard work making it more difficult to push forward.
#3. When you start, you haven’t been bruised yet.
You gotta go into a goal prepared to get bruised.
The source of the bruising most often comes from others and YOU!
Yes, you beat yourself up along the way.
As you move through the middle stage of a goal, self-doubt and self-criticism can creep in. You may question your abilities, second-guess your decisions, or compare yourself to others who have already achieved similar goals. This self-critical mindset can undermine your confidence and make it harder to persevere.
When you’re doing something new, you have to do uncomfortable, even awkward things. Be okay with that.
Now, that inner-critic of yours is also being fed by others.
Maybe your book proposal was rejected. Maybe you didn’t get that loan. Maybe people have criticized you. Maybe others have judged and questioned you.
In the middle, you will know the sting of failure.
In the middle, the bruises show up and you get so discouraged that you quit.
You don’t get to win without playing.
You don’t get to play without bruising.
I’m happy to tell you that there is a way to work in the middle with confidence and resilience.
Avoid getting stuck by creating a middle goal.
A middle goal will alleviate the challenges discussed above.
A middle goal is made up of smaller milestones to track and provide visible progress to keep you motivated instead of feeling stuck in a never-ending journey.
Think of a ladder.
It has rungs spaced apart so you can easily go to the next rung and get to the top.
Let’s say the bottom rung of your goal to write a book is to write a proposal and the top rung is to be selling your book on Amazon.
What about the middle rungs?
There’s no way to get to the top rung until you have more rungs in between.
This is the middle. Too many, leave these rungs off their goal ladder. The middle is the most important part of achieving your goal.
No middle, no finish line.
- Have time of 30-90 days. I love a 90 plan.
- They are flexible about progress. An inch forward is a mile of progress to someone who never moved.
- Middle goals don’t fall apart if you miss a day. Fragile goals fail. Flexible goals win.
- Middle goals encourage you to tweak your schedule.
- Middle goals have patience built in.
When you play more often, you win more often.
When you win more often, you play more often.
Take one goal and build the middle of your ladder. In the next 30-90 days what are the action items of each of those middle rungs?
Here’s an example.
Come up with 5-10 actions for your goal.
Take one of your goals and come up with 5-10 actions “that count.” If your goal is to declutter a garage, you could say:
- Throwing away junk.
- Putting items back where they belong.
- Shopping for new containers.
- Creating a wish list on Amazon instead of one-click ordering new items.
Some simple but game-changing reminders:
💪 Slow and steady wins the race.
💪 Consistency is contagious
💪 Small consistent actions always turn into an even bigger best moment.
💪 Inconsistency dooms progress.
💪 Average consistent actions beats amazing inconsistent action. Buh-bye perfectionism.
💪 Everything you apply time to gets better.
💪 Every goal looks easy when you’re not the one doing it.
Finally, remind yourself why you started in the first place and celebrate all the small victories along the way.