What’s Tougher: Getting Started or Moving Through the Middle? | No Schedule Man Podcast, Ep. 37

What’s Tougher: Getting Started or Moving Through the Middle? | No Schedule Man Podcast, Ep. 37

There’s a quote attributed to the legendary coach of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins in which he said, “It’s the start that stops most people.” It certainly stopped me for longer than I care to recall. But I’m glad to say that I did eventually get out of the gates on truly pursuing who I feel I really am and what I’m here to contribute. As a result, these days, it’s the big, fat, shadowy middle part that looms as a much larger obstacle than the starting line ever did.

So if you’re like me, and have committed yourself to relentlessly working toward your goals and dreams, which have you found to be more of a challenge: the effort and action to get started in the first place, or the courage and commitment it takes to keep moving through the murky middle?

Listen to Episode 37 on: iTunes | Soundcloud | YouTube

The more I consider it, the more I feel like this process plays itself out, over and over, throughout our lives. It’s just a matter of our perception of the scale of the challenge we’re looking to overtake, but the process is largely the same. You’ve likely come across the idea that it takes the same amount of effort to bag an elephant as a mouse, and yet we’re prone to shrinking from our fullest expression because we don’t feel we’re up to it. We think the challenge is too big. We’re afraid of failing, of succeeding, of judgement, of … you name it. And so we don’t get started. Yet if you look back, you’ll see quite clearly that we all have positive experience to draw upon in this regard. We’ve all set out to overcome big challenges, some of which chose us and didn’t give us any option but to go through them. In every case, it’s just been a matter of how bad we wanted whatever we decided to pursue.

You Can Do What You Can Because You Decided To

You don’t have to be in the Guinness Book of Records to see that you’ve done this in your life, time after time. At one point, you didn’t know how to walk. Or run. Or ride a bike. You learned because you decided to.

You likely went on to want to learn to drive a car. To have your first kiss. To get a job. Those things all seemed like gargantuan challenges at one time, at least to me.

As life goes on, you tackle bigger and bigger things. Some, because you feel you have to. Others, because you want to. But in every case, there is a choice to get started, and a decision at some point along the way – in the middle – to keep going even when it feels that the end result is still beyond the horizon.

I bet I fell repeatedly when I learned to walk. I don’t remember. But I must have had the capacity to decide and persevere even before I could talk (which I also learned how to do). Think about that for just a moment: how innate is your ability to access deep levels of determination and drive that supersede even your ability to externally communicate. Wow.

I know I fell of my bike a lot, trying to conquer that challenge. Lots of bruises and scrapes resulted. But I eventually got there. And when you finally find the balance of flying along on two wheels for the first time … boy … that’s what living feels like!

If I really think about it, I can still access the emotions I was feeling when I wondered how it would ever be possible to break into the career field I initially targeted (radio broadcasting). At the time, it seemed an impossible mystery. But I kept moving toward it, and I eventually conquered and moved past it.

In fact, as I look back, I can see that I’ve conquered all kinds of major challenges over the course of my first four decades. I’m willing to bet that the same is true for you, too. Why, then, can it still seem such an enormous obstacle to stretch ourselves beyond the limits of what we feel we’re currently capable when we have ample evidence to suggest we not only can do it, but we have done it, over and over, all our lives?

Those are the kinds of questions I find myself considering as I work through what I perceive to be the big “middle” of a process that began for me in earnest only recently, in relative terms. I’m talking about career, health, mindset and financial reinvention. I mean challenging my own idea of the status quo, discovering what it is that I really believe, uncovering the truth behind why I think the way I do and act the way I act, and actively re-scripting and re-programming myself to achieve heights that seem, quite frankly, lofty as all heck.

Two Voices: The Devil & The Angel

There is that one voice that says to me, “You can do it, Kevin. Go for it. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.” Agreeing and accepting what that voice has to say is what gets you started. But somewhere along the way, even after you’ve got yourself going and have accumulated a body of work, another voice kicks in that says, “Who the heck do you think you are? What are you doing? What makes you think this is going to work?” That’s the voice of the middle.

Getting started is scary by exhilarating. You almost feel “high” when you finally decide to do or be something new. It’s empowering. But it doesn’t take long before the real work begins, and the middle kicks in. Continuing to move through that part, when you’re not even sure where the finish line is because you’re doing something you’ve never done before, is what separates the good from the average, and the great from the good.

The Middle

  • Planning a home renovation is fun. Living in a temporary construction zone is the middle.
  • Dreaming of and shopping for a new home is exciting. Packing, planning, and dealing with banks, lawyers, address changes and a new place to leave your keys is the middle.
  • Imagining yourself in a new job and dusting off your resume is empowering. Going door-to-door and doing interviews and networking and facing rejection and even the cloak of everything unfamiliar after you do start somewhere new … that’s the middle.
  • Deciding to lose some weight and get in better shape so you can have more energy, live longer and just generally enjoy life more is an incredibly powerful choice to make. Re-learning your eating habits, discovering new aisles at the grocery store (or new stores), declining in certain social situations, looking in the mirror and not seeing progress after weeks and months of new exercise while seeing endless “instant gratification” ads on television … that’s the middle.

What I’ve seen and experienced is that if your desire is strong enough and if you understand the deep and profound underlying reasons why you want to do (or stop) or achieve whatever it is you’re gunning for, the more likely you’ll be not only to get started, but to find that, once the middle bit hits, you’ll have made the habit of believe and relentless action so habitual that you won’t know any different but to feel that fear and uncertainty and keep marching anyway.

The question is, what do you desire so deeply that you’re willing to face the specter of both the start and the fog of the middle? And in your experience, which one’s been a bigger challenge?

Podcast Episode Links:

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Comments: What’s Tougher?

Which has been a bigger challenge for you: getting started with something new, or continuing to move forward after you’ve moved well into it? What’s an example of when you succeeded despite the obstacles?

Please add your thoughts to the Comments Section, below.

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10 Responses to “What’s Tougher: Getting Started or Moving Through the Middle? | No Schedule Man Podcast, Ep. 37

  • For me, I didn’t really have much trouble between the two, getting started or keep going forward. Once I find passion, I just keep doing what I’m doing. However, if I had to choose between the two, I’d say keep getting forward. Lots of times we find the motivation to start something new, but once we start it, we lose motivation somewhere in the middle. Stopping in the middle is not always a bad thing, if you truly believe that what you’re doing is not worthy or it was a bad decision, then it’s wise to simply stop right there and pursue something else.

    • Hi Elias,
      Thanks for that. Your comments remind me of a conversation I had years ago, with a friend, about books. I was saying how I wasn’t at all enjoying the book I was reading. He encouraged me to put it down and pick up something I’d enjoy. That felt “wrong” to me at first, as if I’d made a commitment to finish it and I owed myself that. But to your point (and his) … what’s the point in being miserable with a choice like that? So I put the book down.
      Not everything else is life is going to be that easy to evaluate. Sometimes, we won’t know if it’s a bad decision or not unless we see it through, whatever that end may be. I suppose that’s a key part of what I think makes it so tricky.
      Wishing you well!
      Kevin

  • Neil Brooks
    2 years ago

    Kevin, this is so great, I am in the middle of moving through the middle of something right now.

    I am sure about my choices, but then have doubts, and have to remember why I made the choice in the first place.

    I have to focus the endpoint and not on where I am right now, and keep pushing forwards and onwards.

    Thank you for this, it is a timely and welcome sign for me.

    Best wishes

    Neil

    • Thanks, Neil. I appreciate the comments and encouragement. I wish you well on any endeavor you take on!
      Best wishes,
      Kevin

  • Another great post Kevin as always. I just had to comment on this one and give my opinion.

    I would say that it is generally the starting of something new that is more hard. I like the easy life so sometimes I will procrastinate for a while before I commit to something. But when I do then I am off.

    One thing though that i have found tough in the middle is working on my genealogy website. I knew that I always wanted to create a website, so starting it wasn’t much of a problem. It was just at times I thought why was I bothering to do it. But I reminded myself that I was creating the website so that I could help out other people discover their ancestry.

    Getting past that point has made me feel stronger in myself as well as create a great looking and helpful website in the meantime, least I think so anyway, lol.

    • Hi Owain!
      Thanks for the visit, comments and kind words. As you know, I’ve visited your website many times and agree it looks terrific and is loaded with helpful content. I’m glad you got started AND kept pushing. Keep up the great work!
      Best wishes,
      Kevin

  • Hi Kevin again!

    It’s good to be back!

    I enjoyed reading your article and I believe that you’re absolutely right. The beginning is where most people give up. It’s very odd to spend a lot of hours creating something and not having immediately results. It drives people crazy.

    I believe that I adopted the best method and that I would suggest to anyone. Be more stubborn than the wall. Just start and work very hard and be too stubborn to give up especially if you are trying to build your own business. If you fail, you will have to go back and to work for someone else’s dream and you will be kept at a minimum wage while they travel the world.

    Thank you for your article, is very encouraging!

    Best of luck,

    Andrei.

    • Hi Andrei!
      Thanks for stopping by and for your very kind note. I LOVE this: “Be more stubborn than the wall.” Yes! I also love how you framed the idea of who’s dream you’re working to support. Good for you. Keep on going!
      Best wishes,
      Kevin

  • Another awesome article Kevin. The middle part is so much that hard part. I am trying to sculpt my body into something better as a 60 year old and at the same time build an online business. Everything you said in your examples really speaks to that. I got started, now I’m in that big middle phase of struggling to see the results.

    “Some people make excuses, some people make progress”

    It’s the way it is. I’m going to make progress or die trying. Thanks for this, really well done:)

    • Hi Peter!
      Thanks for your very kind words, and I love what you shared! I’m with you: progress or death in the attempts. Growth mindset all the way!
      Wishing you only the best in all your endeavors 🙂
      Kevin

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