This will be a fitting follow-up episode to "2 Rewards and a Consequence" I shared an elaborate goals structure for 90-day SMART goals. That's what I'm doing. I didn't want it to necessarily be what you're doing. Each of us is unique and responds to goal-setting differently. I know that I've covered these stats before, but listen to them again. 83% of people do not set goals. 14% set goals, but don't write them down. These 14% are 10x more successful than the non-goal-setters. 2% set goals and write them down. They are 30x more successful than the non-goal-setters. 1% set goals, write them down, and are held accountable to achieving them. This 1% Club is over 100x more successful than the non-goal-setters. The takeaway should be abundantly clear. Set goals, write them down, and get into accountability. If you don't, you'll wander aimlessly with the 83%. Let me also be clear. I never said the 83% were unsuccessful! Many of them do extremely well and many of them do not. These stats simply show that the average of the non-goal-setters pales in comparison to the focused few that have goals.
Now, I would like to introduce a concept to you. It's called the Messy Middle. I have referred to it in this podcast before. I'll describe it first outside of cleaning. This is my wife's project right now. You are fed up with the state of your home. It's cluttered and full of 20 years of kids stuff, trinkets, unused furniture, books and more books, papers, keepsakes. This has been mounding up for years and nothing you do ever seems to reduce the size. It just grows. [Notice that I didn't say that the kids themselves were the clutter.] You feel tight and stressed every day you walk through your home and see it. Is this a Hoarders episode? No, this is no where near that. But it's bad and stressful and an eye-soar to you. You've finally had it! You proclaim a new goal! I am going to declutter this house. I am going to get rid of all the junk. I am going to create space. I am going to have peace back in my home. There's an "I've had it" moment. This happens in way more than just your house. It's in your health or weight, your relationships, your finances or debt, your business, your job. Do you relate? Back to this decluttering project.
You've proclaimed your new goal. The thought of a decluttered and minimized home sounds like paradise. You get excited. In fact, you get really, really, really excited. You are ready to bag everything, tear down drywall, and personally lift dressers by yourself to accomplish this goal. Adrenalin is rising. It's the beginning and you have a new goal's Dopamine spike! Have you ever been there? You can see what it will look like in the end. You begin.
You're a few days into your project. The work is getting cumbersome, monotonous. You're starting to struggle with decision fatigue on what to get rid of and what to keep. Do you keep this beautiful work of art from 12 years ago that simply says "I love you, Mommy" in green crayon on red construction paper. There's no date, no name. But you know who did it and now they are driving a car. Even though the work is getting to be work, you're still excited as you can see the finish line. You keep going.
It's week 3. You've been finding excuses to not do the decluttering project as there is always something more exciting or important to do. You still want to do the declutter. You've got bags and boxes around the house to be sorted or taken to Good Will. You see the mess right in front of you because it always gets messier after you start. Did you hear me? It always gets messier after you start! The clutter was always there, but it all had a place. Now, you've taken the charge to expose the clutter for the villain that it is. You set the goal and started. But weariness and doubts and fears and compromise eek in. Day by day, the project grows wearier. This is the testing period to see what you're made of. Are you going to hold 'em or fold 'em? Most people will quit or give up at this point because it just got too messy or too hard. It's not really worth it. I have other things to do that are more important. I don't deserve to have a decluttered house. Doubts, fears, excuses rise up to judge yourself. You are in the fire right now. What are you going to do. You look at the mess. You can't see the vision you once had just a few weeks ago. Or can you? Can you grab onto it? Oh wait, what's that notebook over there? It's the journal you started on this project. There it is. You grab it and open it to page one. You poured out your heart about your lack of structure and clutter in the home. You wrote down the goal on page 1. You described how you and the family will feel once it's done. You shared how determined you were to complete this for the first time in your life. You were not going to be stopped. Tears start trickling down your cheek. The goal reignites in your heart. You get your fire back. You write a new page in your journal entitled, "The Messy Middle".
"Here I am right now in a heap of mess and tears at this journal. I started the decluttering project like I have so many other times and failed. This time I won't. I am going to follow-through on this goal. I am going to win. Yes, there is an absolute mess of papers, bags, broken parts, old electronics, toys, stuff I may need in 17 years. This mess is my messy middle. I am in the wasteland of the messy middle. I almost gave up in despair, fear, doubt, and the cares of other more important things to do. But not this time. I will finish strong and prove to myself I can succeed. I will hold onto this goal."
That was all the fire you needed as you crush through the next 2 weeks of decluttering. You orchestrate your family members to move stuff out to the curb, take bags to Good Will, clean up, take care of meals while you're working. You see the project turn the corner from absolute mess to space. You catch your first glimpse of the end. A new fire kindles. You take more action and get closer. You see the end point even closer. The light at the end of the dark tunnel is getting brighter. You race toward the end, taking more and more action. The family gets out of your way and they take over all of the household everything as "Mom is in Beast Mode" says Dad. You press. You toss. You slide. You cry. You finish.
The job is done. The goal is complete. Your life is forever changed. You fought through the Messy Middle to go from initial excitement to completed excitement. You beat the statistics. Most people don't set goals. Most people quit when it gets hard. Not you. Not today.
The Messy Middle applies to every goal and good thing you'll ever take on. Here are some other examples. How about pregnancy for the moms? The initial news is amazing. Holding your baby in your arms is amazing. What about month 2 with sickness or month 7 carrying extra weight every where and miserable? I am clearly not a mom, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night. No. I mean... I'm a dad and have been there side-by-side with my wife for 5 pregnancies. What about sports? A new season starts and the team is jacked! They will win the championship this year. They get into 2-a-days with no problem. But then the middle of summer and 97 degree heat waves hits practice camp. The goal is a long, long way off. How about starting a new cleaning company when it's only you? You get so excited to start. You want to have the flexibility and freedom that a fully optimized solo cleaning business can produce or maybe you want the freedom that a fully staffed multi-million dollar company. Either would be light years ahead of your life today. You want it. You are so excited, so you start. But like I've shared in a previous episode. "February's coming". It will be cold, very cold. It will be dark, very dark and the only light will happen while you're in a house cleaning. You'll get complaints and feel like you're not making enough. You'll feel the pain of this horrible decision to start a cleaning business on the side to help your family. You wonder why you ever started? This is the most critical time for you. What will you decide when you're there? What will you do? Will you dig deeper and work harder. Will you dig out your journal and read your heart poured out on paper telling of all you'll do once you hit this goal? It's up to you. All I can do it promise you that it will happen. You will go through this. As I said earlier, It always gets messier after you start! What's your alternative? Go back to the life you used to have? Do you want to give up? No! You don't. You want to change your life. You know that the plan to hit your cleaning goals with the help of the Smart Cleaning School is solid. You just need to keep going and taking action. It's only a matter of time. The light at the other end of the tunnel will be dim at first. But you will recognize it as you take action through the Messy Middle. You will get that new client or shave off 30 more minutes from a clean. You will get a testimonial that will make you cry. You will hire that next right employee. You will start winning and that light will brighter. And so will your spirits. You will get excited and start charging faster and harder. I've been there and have told you how to do it from the other side. Many others have gone before you and accomplished. Will you believe us? Will you fight?
Are you in the Messy Middle right now? Would you like encouragement. Book a free coaching call with me on the Smart Cleaning School website! Make sure to check out the many free & paid resources available on the website too!
Teresa said take a picture. That'd be a good social media post and people will believe me when they see our house in declutter mood right now. Get a picture of the truck that's picking up stuff off our front porch that benefits of veterans. Mention this.
The Smart Cleaning School Podcast helps cleaning business owners from start-up to the struggling solo to the striving seven-figure get SMARTER in their businesses, reshape their mindset, increase productivity, clear the overwhelm, and get clarity through SMART goal-setting & personal accountability. Ken Carfagno is a lifetime learner and teacher. His mission is to help visionaries make the impact they were meant to make.