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25 Tips to Help You Navigate the Messy Middle of Goal Work

A black notebook sits on a white table. There is a magnifying glass and pencil on either side of the notebook.

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The Messy Middle is that part of your goal journey where you've run out of the fresh energy that often accompanies new beginnings and have yet to reap the rewards of your work.

It's the part of your goal journey where your goals may stall out or where you might quit on your goals altogether.

How do you know if you've found the Messy Middle?

Your motivation has dropped.

Your doubt has gotten really loud.

You feel lots of resistance.

Your patience is running out.

You consider quitting.

Learning how to survive the Messy Middle is a necessary skill for success. Don't let this part of your goal journey stop you in your tracks.

25 Tips for Messy Middle Survival

Here are 25 tips to help you push through this difficult phase and keep moving toward your goal:

  1. Embrace the struggle: Understand that facing challenges is a part of the process and growth comes from discomfort.

  2. Progress, not perfection: Focus on making incremental progress every day, rather than striving for perfection.

  3. The power of yet: If you can't do something, remind yourself that you just can't do it yet. Growth is a process.

  4. Resilience is key: Building resilience through adversity is what makes achieving goals truly rewarding.

  5. One step at a time: Break down your goals into smaller, manageable tasks to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

  6. Remember your why: Reconnect with the reasons you started this journey when motivation is low. Your why is your anchor.

  7. Celebrate small wins: Acknowledge and celebrate even the smallest milestones to keep morale high. Remember that there is joy in the journey. Look for it.

  8. Bend so you don't break: Be willing to adapt your approach as challenges arise. Flexibility can lead to unexpected breakthroughs.

  9. Patience pays off: Understand that some goals require time to achieve, and patience is part of the process.

  10. Learn from setbacks: View each setback as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than a failure. Mistakes are just data if you let them be.

  11. Seek support: Don't be afraid to seek support from friends, family, or mentors. A strong support system is invaluable.

  12. Stay focused on the end goal: Keep your ultimate goal in mind and visualize achieving it to maintain focus.

  13. Maintain your self-care: Ensure you're taking care of your physical and mental health alongside pursuing your goals. Take a walk when things get rough.

  14. Find joy in the journey: Try to find aspects of the process you enjoy to make the journey more fulfilling.

  15. Stay curious: Maintain a mindset of curiosity to explore new ways of overcoming challenges. Get creative!

  16. Embrace change: Be open to change, as it often leads to growth and new opportunities.

  17. Trust the process: Trust that if you keep putting in the work, you will eventually see results.

  18. Stay disciplined: Discipline is often more reliable than motivation. Stick to your plan even when you don't feel like it.

  19. Be kind to yourself: Treat yourself with compassion and understanding through the ups and downs.

  20. Refuse to give up: Remind yourself that giving up guarantees failure, but perseverance keeps success possible.

  21. Seek inspiration: Look for stories of others who have overcome similar challenges for motivation.

  22. Adjust your sails: Be prepared to adjust your methods and strategies as needed to stay on course. Flexibility in your approach is key!

  23. Celebrate the effort, not just the outcome: Recognize the effort you're putting in, regardless of the immediate results.

  24. Mindset matters: Where your attention goes, your energy flows. Focus on what's going right, not what's going wrong.

  25. The journey shapes you: Remember that the journey is just as important as the destination. It's shaping you into the person capable of achieving your goals.

Don't let the Messy Middle be the end of your dreams and goals.

With perseverance and patience, you'll reach the goal line and feel better while getting there.

Want more tips to fly to help you become a goal-GETTER? Listen to The Flight School Podcast here.

Jen Laffin wearing a brightly flowered dress, glasses, smiling at the camera

Jen Laffin is an Accountability & Success Mentor for people who like to finish big goals, a master teacher, host of The Flight School Podcast, a possible thinker, and a recovering procrastinator. She helps goal-SETTERS become goal-GETTERS. To learn more, visit, or find Jen on Linkedin.


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