Surviving the Middle Mile

Written by on April 8, 2015 in Sense of Purpose with 18 Comments

Surviving the Middle MileWhether 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 begins and where you’ll need the most energy to keep pushing forward. And let’s be honest, the middle mile can be a pretty darn lonely place to be.

Maybe you don’t have to push yourself forward. Maybe you just have to stop holding yourself back. ~Doe Zantamata

The Challenge of the Middle Mile

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.

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. ~William James

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.

On the other hand active patience is using the middle mile as an opportunity to create a second wind for the last leg of your journey.

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 the 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 you’re 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 the discipline to have a plan, work it every day, and be willing to do whatever it takes.

At first they’ll ask you why you’re doing it. But later they’ll ask you how you did it. ~Author Unknown

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 they allow themselves to 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.

I know 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?

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.


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  1. This is a fantastic post, Marquita. I have voted for you, and will help share your post.

    It really resonated with me as I am indeed trying to survive the middle mile! I have achieved some success with my book and am beginning to get the recognition I am seeking. I now must get that second wind that will carry me forward to achieving my ultimate goals. Thanks for the nudge and encouragement to do so.
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…embracing the changing roles of our livesMy Profile

  2. Julie Gorges

    I think everyone can relate to this article in different ways. What a great way of describing the hardest part of a life journey. I feel like I am in the “middle mile” of caring for my Mom who has dementia which has turned out to be harder than I ever imagined. You gave some great advice regarding finding your second wind and reminding yourself of what you wanted to accomplish in the first place. You gave me inspiration to survive the “middle mile.” Thanks!
    Julie Gorges recently posted…Maddening Menopausal NailsMy Profile

    • I am so glad you found value in the article Julie. Both of my parents passed away some time ago so I can’t relate to your experience in that way, but a friend of mine was diagnosed with dementia 3 years ago and to see how drastically she’s changed in that short a time is heartbreaking so I can at least relate to your feelings about what a difficult time this is for you as well as your mother. Thank you for taking the time to share and contribute to the conversation.

  3. Stacey Toupin

    Marquita, I really enjoyed reading your post today. Your perspective about being mindful of the middle mile is excellent. I appreciate the wonderful steps you mentioned, especially your thoughts about creating your second wind. It’s so true, too many times we abandon or give up on our goals when the fun or vision has faded and we were so close to success. Creating that second wind helps us to refocus on what we want so we can keep going to the end. Great read. Thank you! ~Stacey

  4. What a great description – the middle mile. I’ve heard the home stretch, the long haul and similar stuff. But Middle Mile really fits. I try never to take on anything without expecting to succeed. But sometimes it just takes a lot longer than expected! Great reminders on how to keep going.
    PS I voted. Looks like you’re in the lead!

  5. Sue Kearney

    Wow, I needed this today — right in this now moment. I am feeling removed from believing in my ability to succeed, to recover good health. I’ve worked so hard on acceptance and I think that has turned into surrender and resignation.

    This is a powerful and necessary reminder.

    Sue Kearney recently posted…Facebook tips that will help you #ShareYourMagicMy Profile

    • I’m so glad you found value in the article Sue! If you haven’t already read it, I’d recommend reading my post about W. Mitchell because I think his journey to regaining his health and basic ability to function after two horrific accidents will inspire you.

  6. Marquita — I hadn’t ever thought about the “middle mile” but it’s so true. We’re flushed with enthusiasm at the beginning of the journey and then comes the hard part — the middle, making it happen so that you can reach our goal. With the way everything is changing so quickly in life these days with the advances of technology and the internet, I wonder if it’s realistic to expect to cross the mythical “finish line.” I think there is a new approach and that is to set short term goals, and then recalibrate accordingly. To quote John Lennon, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Use Images to Inspire Your ReadersMy Profile

    • I hear you about the ‘finish line’ and while I agree with the value of short term goals, I also believe that it’s important to have direction and a desired outcome in mind. Refining strategies along the way is simply part of the process, kind of like using a compass to stay on course. Thanks so much for your thoughtful insights! 🙂

  7. So true!!! “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.’”

    We must never settle for ‘good enough’ and the guidance you provide in this post shows how to continue the journey and not lose momentum. Thank you!
    Betty Eitner recently posted…My Mother’s Saris Are Worth More Than Their Weight in GoldMy Profile

  8. Marla

    This just might be my favourite post that you’ve written recently Marty (although how do you choose with such solid content you keep sharing). It speaks loud and clear to me as I’ve just celebrated one year of Wise Introvert…and there is so much more room to grow.

    This middle mile is a time of character building, courage, and focus for me. Definitely time for active patience! Thanks for the nudge!
    Marla recently posted…Introvert Wish List: Sell MyselfMy Profile

  9. Mark

    First of all, let me say that this is a fabulous article Marquita!

    And I don’t think I’ve ever heard the journey of success, so accurately described as the “middle mile!”

    I so love your concept! And what a simply awesome quote by Doe Zantamanta!

    And the ones by William James and the one by the author unknown as well.

    They are both simply priceless as well!

    M, I found myself repeatedly pumping my fist in the air, while simultaneously saying “yes!” As I read each subsequent paragraph!

    You really hit this one out of the park! You have so accurately described that all too common place, that the vast majority of us find ourselves, soon after the initial adrenaline rush has long since faded!

    And now we’re sort of coming to grips with “what” truly lies ahead!

    And we’re not totally sure we can handle and or meet the coming challenges!

    What a truly inspiring and totally awesome post!

    And while I have no idea where your seemingly unending reservoir of inspirational ideas and concepts comes from!

    I truly hope they don’t stop any time soon!
    Mark recently posted…Five Simple Questions That Prove You’ve Potentially Found An Incredibly Profitable Niche!Part TwoMy Profile

    • Thank you Mark for your very kind words and support. As far as where I come up with topics, occasionally my articles mirror things I’m going through at the time but more often than not it’s from reading comments from people about their challenges. But I have to admit my articles tend to take on a life of their own because sometimes I’ll start writing about one subject and the piece will morph into something completely different by the time I finish. 🙂

  10. Dave

    I am immediately reminded of the quote by Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.”

    I can empathize with the feeling of that middle mile. It’s where we spend the majority of our time on a journey, and yet it is quite often the segment that gets the least attention. I have been slowly beginning to relish and appreciate this part of the journey.

    And you have provided some very encouraging (and much needed) advice to help me keep putting one foot in front of the other – actively, not passively!

    I keep reminding myself that good is the enemy of great, thank you for that fine little nugget of wisdom Marty – along with all the others which will help me not only survive the middle mile, but enjoy it too 🙂
    Dave recently posted…Extra pointMy Profile

    • Well as I always tell people I write about things I’ve personally experienced and this is no exception. My problem with the middle mile is boredom. I love coming up with ideas and starting things but long term projects are my biggest challenge and of course pretty much everything I’m doing at the moment is in fact long term, so I’ve had to get creative to keep focused. Glad to know others feel the same. 🙂

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