Beginnings are exciting. The fire of a new idea courses through your veins, your imagination builds perfectly constructed, beautiful castles. It’s true whether you are beginning a new job, outlining a new business, writing a new story–it’s exciting to START.
Endings often mean relief. You feel as if a weight rises from your chest, your stomach unknots, and you realize you’ve had your jaw clenched for awhile. Even if the ending presents new challenges and new worries, it’s normal to feel relieved when something that doesn’t feel quite right ends. The feeling that accompanies the end of a successful project can be elation and relief together, or maybe a vague sadness or nostalgia laced with relief.
There’s not even a word for what happens between the beginnings and endings, though. Middles? Middles are tough. That’s the slog, the grind, the hard part. Ask any writer and they will tell you the middle of a story is the hard part. After the excitement of getting started at a new job dies down, and the newness wears off, you are left with just…doing the work. In a sociology class I hated in college, I learned that the middle years of most marriages are also the least happy.
It’s easy to give up in the middle. It was about the middle of my first half marathon that I started wondering what in hell I was doing on that trail. Once you’ve outlined a business idea and it’s time to implement it, the real work begins, and it might not be quite as appealing in the execution as it was as a plan. Right now I’m in the middle of completing a certain number of cold calls, and everyday it’s a little harder to convince myself to pick up the phone.
The middle has something to teach you, though. It’s where you collect the data to test your theory, and where you learn if you enjoy doing the work. Without getting through the middle, you cannot feel the relief of the end. You can’t experience the pride of a job well done if you don’t do the work. The idea stays an imaginary castle in the air if you don’t force yourself to actually hammer the nails.
What I’m trying to say here is…I have to go make some phone calls!
Do you struggle with middles? Do you have any tricks or tips on how to make yourself see projects through?