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My head feels like it could spin right off my body.
As my printer spits out the workbook for the next lesson in the online copywriting course I am taking, I flip through my class binder and review some of my handwritten notes.
Loads of new knowledge stares back at me. Months of my life are contained in these pages. And even though I have taken these notes, a lot of the information still feels foreign and a bit confusing.
I’m not even halfway through the class and the mountain of work seems to get larger each time I look at it.
But as I stare at my notes and flip through the binder, I feel something I haven’t felt in years—hope.
This experience has opened up so many aspects of my life that go way beyond the subject matter. I know this class was the answer to many, many late-night prayers.
As my hopefulness soars, so does my awareness of something else. It feels like stress, but I know I’m not stressed in the traditional sense. This doesn’t feel yucky like stress, but it does feel visceral.
And then, it hits me.
I am in the messy middle.
That glorious part of the journey where your paintbrushes are strewn everywhere, you haven’t eaten in hours, and you’re right on the tip of a breakthrough that will catapult you into the next level of understanding and comprehension.
It’s disorganized, frazzled, and incredibly delicious because the messy middle is where we find our true grit, determination, truthful creativity, and stamina.
I’ll be honest; I like the feeling of completion. I think we all do to a degree. It feels great to step back and say, “Hey! Look what I made! I did that!” I have reminded myself that completion is just the culmination of a lot of messy middles.
As a former perfectionist, the messy middle was not always my favorite part of the journey. I resented how out of sorts it felt, especially because I am more comfortable (and concentrated) when things are neatly tied up in a bow.
But creativity screams for us to trust the process because it’s usually taking us where we least expect to go, which is what makes it so fun, right?
Below are four things I do when the messy middle starts to feel a bit too messy. May they help quell any doubts, fears, overwhelm, or overthinking:
1. I remind myself that I chose to evolve.
Being in the messy middle is an indicator that you started something new in the first place. Go you!
When we decide to level up, learn something new, or let go of something old, we are choosing a courageous path. Honor this, please.
When we feel that sense of our head exploding from all the new stimuli we are ingesting, we have to remember how awesome that is—our head is exploding because we are more knowledgeable now.
New neurons are firing and wiring together. Our brain is learning to look for new information and new perspectives. Our filter is becoming wider. We are growing new brain matter and strengthening our memory, emotional capacity, and resources to solve problems.
I mean, that’s pretty cool, right?
2. I take an inventory of where I am and celebrate it.
It can feel like a long way from the finish line if we keep looking at the finish line.
We’ve all been conditioned to focus on the completion rather than the journey, especially in the West where accomplishments and credentials are placed right beside our value and worth as human beings.
But here’s the thing: this is your life going by. Right now as you read this, minutes tick away that you cannot get back, no matter how beautiful, rich, or influential you are.
So, keeping all attention on the finish line robs you of your experience and your journey.
In the online group for my class, my teacher does a “Wednesday Wins” post so everyone can share where they are and what they’ve learned along the way. It’s humbling because you see how much work truly goes into learning something new and starting a new venture. People will share “big” things like landing a retainer client to “small” things like completing a lesson or sending out a few cold emails. And we all celebrate these wins together.
The journey is delicious, too. And it is filled with miracles, synchronicities, and coincidences that not only support what we are trying to accomplish but allow us to meet ourselves along the way.
Because we are always meeting a more resonate version of ourselves the more journeys we decide to take.
Write down all the progress you’ve made, and then, celebrate it. Put your hand on your heart and “take in the good” as Dr. Rick Hanson says. Savor the feeling of accomplishment, more knowledge, deep self-admiration, and choosing yourself. Let that feeling sink into your bones, your brain, and your solar plexus chakra.
Ahhh, it feels so good, doesn’t it?
3. I call on my inner wisdom and hand over the outcome to the universe.
Nothing will look like we think it will when we first start something. There will be endless changes, evolutions, and surprises along the way.
The more we can release our grip on what we want it to look like (or think it should look like), the more magic comes in.
We always know what to do next if we go inward and listen. There is a lot of noise about what is “right,” “best,” or “correct.” At the end of the day, we must do steps in the order that feels good to us. Our inner wisdom always knows, even if it doesn’t make logical sense or go in a logical order (I am personally working on this!).
There is a divine intelligence working in everything we do, and it wants our fulfillment. Hand over your idea of the outcome to the bigger picture, and I promise, you will be taken care of in ways you can’t possibly imagine.
4. I take the next, best feeling action, whether it is big or small.
This is good advice because it works.
Everything is a culmination of lots of actions. It all builds and compounds. We don’t always need to take a huge leap; sometimes, the best feeling action is a small hop.
For example, I am writing this the day after Thanksgiving and my brain and body are depleted. I’m not sure I have the concentration to complete a lesson today like I intended to do, so I got the impetus to go through my binder, clean it up and reorganize it, and get my mind clear on where I am in the course.
Doing that led to me the realizations that I am penning right now!
Don’t devalue or dismiss smaller actions like sending an email or finishing a chapter in a book in lieu of bigger actions we believe are “more important.” That’s just silly talk. All actions, great and small, get you where you want to go.
I hope you find yourself in all sorts of beautiful, messy middles! Embrace the confusion. Love the uncertainty. Relish in the chaos of creativity.
It’s really fun to see what happens when we decide to get our hands a little (or a lot) dirty.