The messy, unsexy middle.
“Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end.” – Robin Sharma
I’ve been helping people set and reach their goals for so long that I’ve stopped taking the messy middle for granted. But it didn’t start that way.
When I started coaching my favorite part was the setting of the goals. I loved hearing about what our members wanted to accomplish and the clarity that came with asking questions. The excitement that comes with naming a goal and committing to it is contagious. It came naturally to me to translate dreams and goals into strategies and create plans for achieving them. It was ‘off to the races’ fun.
Then over time I grew to favor our last call together. Even on the first call I was already thinking of the last call. I started taking better, more meticulous notes because I knew they would forget what it felt like before they did any work. When everything was just an idea. I loved coming back to that conversation and recounting it to them because I realized how happy it made them feel. What made them feel the best was not the result but the change they could see in themselves. I would hear things like…
I forgot how frustrated I was.
Wow, I can’t believe how scared I was to do that.
I forgot how stressed out I used to be.
After 10 years of doing this work, I have a much different perspective on what my favorite part is. It’s the messy, unsexy middle.
No matter what change you want to create, the part you will appreciate the most is the distance you travelled from where you started to where you want to be. No matter how big or how small.
The middle is not sexy. This is where your resolve is tested. Because there are unforeseen obstacles. Sometimes there is letting go. There is getting over yourself. Having difficult conversations. Loads of discomfort and sometimes even pain. Fears to be faced. Your patience and expectations have to be managed. And there is a fair amount of surrender required.
I’ve come to understand that when we long for something. When we truly desire something. What we desire is not the result but the process of getting to the result.
I used to think this was because we weren’t able to take in the moment and savor it before we were on to the next thing. But I’ve come to realize that is not it at all. It is because we are alive. And things that are alive want to grow. And the middle is where the majority of growth happens.