Whether you’re recovering from an illness or injury, striving to achieve a big goal or working through a major life change, surviving the middle mile is the key to achieving your desired outcome. The middle mile is that vast space between the beginning and the finish line. The noise of enthusiastic fans cheering you on for taking that first step has faded, and the promised glory of victory is still too far away to see. Whether your ultimate aim is achievement, recovery or a better life, the middle mile is where the real work takes place and where you’ll need the most energy to keep pushing forward. And let’s be honest, the middle mile can be a lonely place to be.
Maybe you don’t have to push yourself forward. Maybe you just have to stop holding yourself back.
The Challenge of the Middle Mile
In the beginning, we seldom give much thought to what it’s going to take to stay motivated for the long haul, let alone what we’ll do if the journey takes longer than expected – which it almost always does.
No matter how well you plan, or whether the journey is your idea or has been thrust upon you by circumstances, the bigger the mountain you have to climb, the more energy you’re likely to put into pushing off from the starting line. In the beginning, we seldom give much thought to what it’s going to take to stay motivated for the long haul, let alone what we’ll do if the journey takes longer than expected – which it almost always does. The reality is that once you reach the middle mile it isn’t the obstacles that will keep you from reaching your goal; it’s losing momentum and settling for good enough.
Good is the enemy of great.
Creating Your Second Wind
All change requires a transition from who you were to the person you aspire be. Some will say the middle mile is a place to just be patient because there will inevitably be things you have no control over. But there is a difference between passive and active patience.
Passive patience is waiting with a good attitude, but that isn’t growth, it’s tolerating circumstances.
Active patience is using the middle mile as an opportunity to create a second wind for the last leg of your journey.
Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second. Give your dreams all you’ve got and you’ll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you.
Here are a few ways to use active patience to create your second wind.
Revisit Your Ultimate Goal
You’ve learned a few things and achieved some success up to now or you wouldn’t have reached the middle mile. Give yourself a break to relax without pressure, revisit your original goal and consider all that you’ve learned up to this point. Sometimes we start a journey with one destination in mind, but along the way, we learn things that help us sharpen our focus and even reconsider where we ultimately want the journey to take us. This is not only normal and healthy; it’s an important step in generating energy and willpower to create your second wind.
Revisit Your Plan
Persistence plays an important role in striving to achieve any goal, but the same strategies that helped you launch your journey are not necessarily the right ones to take you across the finish line. As you go through the process of revisiting and possibly revising your goal, think about the lessons you’ve learned up to now. Are there things you can you do better or eliminate entirely? If you’ve modified your goal are there any course corrections you need to consider? What skills and knowledge will you need once you achieve your desired outcome that you can begin learning now?
Reaffirm Your Commitment to Discipline
The middle mile is an important place to take a hard look at your current level of discipline. Discipline is the foundation upon which all success is built and it is the bridge between wishing and accomplishing. If you want to achieve your desired outcome, you must have a plan and be willing to work it every single day. At first, they’ll ask you why you’re doing it. But later they’ll ask you how you did it.
Create a Fresh Vision of the Finish Line
At the beginning of the journey, it’s easy to create a vision of success. But the longer your journey the greater the chances are that your vision will begin to fade in time, right along with whatever it was that made you think it was a good idea to tackle this goal in the first place. The reason people get stuck in the middle is that they lose focus and momentum. Revisiting your goal and becoming very clear about what it’s going to take to finally cross that finish line will help to kick-start your second wind, but you need more. You need to expect that you are going to succeed and think about what you are going to do to sustain that success.
Some will be quick to say that expecting to succeed is setting yourself up for disappointment, but keep in mind that your expectations affect your attitude. A negative or just give it a try and see what happens attitude will not only prevent you from giving your best effort and attention to your goal in the early stages but will greatly lower your chances of surviving the middle mile. If you want to experience the thrill and personal rewards of crossing the finish line with whatever it is you are striving to achieve, you’ve got to believe in your ability to succeed – otherwise, why even bother making the journey?