From Sad Middles to Happy Endings: Mid-Year Check In


Mid-Year Check in

“How do you feel?”

I was lightheaded and my hands were shaking.  I was about to re-enter the exam room.

I knew before even signing up that the odds were stacked against me.  Historically, only 1 in 3 people pass.  I’ve heard the horror stories from coworkers.

That was when my instructor saw me and asked how I felt.

I started rambling about the unexpected questions, and how I made this mistake in one of the answers (at least I thought I did).  The more I talked, the more agitated I got.

He stopped me and said: “Put aside what happened this morning.  Go in there like nothing happened.  The second half has equal weight as the first.”

The second half has equal weight as the first.

We are now closing June and that means we are crossing into the second half of 2019.  And whatever happened during the first half; maybe you fell off the wagon on your healthy eating plan or you haven’t saved as much in your emergency fund as you wanted.

It’s ok.

It really is.  Because we still have 6 months to get on track.

Time is categorized by our minds to have specific significance.  For example, we are more motivated to hit the gym on a Monday.  We think: new week, it’s a fresh start to get back into my gym routine.

It’s also why we start resolutions on January 1st.  New year,  new you.  Or so the marketing slogans go.

What about middles?

I think middles get a bad rep.  We always nod knowingly when we find out someone’s a middle child.  We automatically think that they were an overlooked child.

It is true that sometimes, the middle periods do lack momentum.  After the initial motivation and aspirations of the new year, we start to tire of our new routines.  From eating right, saving money to hitting the gym, we often start strong and somehow peter out.

Halftimes are the turning point.

Hump Day

I was in high school when I learned that Wednesday was sometimes referred to as “hump day”.  In typical teenage fashion, I snickered at the sexual connotation.

But now that I’m in the rigors of adulting and professional work life, I get it.  The first half of the week sometimes crawls by so slowly and no amount of coffee makes up for it. But sometime after Wednesday, before I realize and while I still have projects to finish, it’s already 4pm on a Friday. Where did the week go?

Not to mention the rush of the weekends!

So once we pass the middle, things do seem to speed up sometimes.  The year is no different, we are in the middle of enjoying summer, and suddenly it seems, the kids are back to school.  Then it’s planning Thanksgiving dinner. And oh my gosh, I haven’t even started Christmas shopping!

Build Momentum

If you are behind your goals during the first half of the year, now is the perfect time to gain momentum.  And just like a rock rolling downhill, you’ll gain speed as we head into the end of the year.

Have you ever watched a sports team come back after half-time to win the game?

Author Dan Pink in his book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, he notes a phenomenon where losing sports teams roar back after the half-time break to sweep the second half and go on to win.

This tends to happen when the losing team is trailing by a marginal amount.  Somehow the break provides the teams a chance to break the negative momentum and inspire the players; to give that “extra” to tip the scales in their favor.

While we slow down to catch our breaths during summer, we have the opportunity to regroup.  We can make small changes to our budgets, to our plans, to our routines in order to still reach our goals.  The second half of the year contains the same amount of time as the first!

Finish Strong!

I remember that time when I ran a 10K.  It was my first and only 10K so far.  I had put in a pretty good race so far and I wanted to walk a bit to take a break.  But that was I saw the distance marker.  It said 9K.

I only had 1K left.  I was this close to finishing.  I was tired and my muscles were sore.  But I mustered up my willpower, gritted my teeth, and ran that last kilometer.  My pace was slow, but I finished it.

We see this all the time, we see some marathon runners cross the finish line before collapsing into a pile. We do it at work too; we often push ourselves even when we are sick to finish off the week.  Which is why Friday nights often finds us slumped on the couch endlessly scrolling Netflix.  We push past a mental finish line.

How to Get Back on Track

Now we know that teams have come back after half times to win championships and the second half sometimes flies by, what can we do?

First, we take stock of how far along we are.  Just find out where we are.  Give ourselves credit for things that we have done, instead of berating ourselves for small slip-ups.

Next, focus on the small things we can control to get us to our goals.  Is it setting up an automatic transfer to savings?  Is it signing up for one of those meal services to get healthy meals delivered instead of eating out?

These are often small one time actions and just becomes the defaults to help us towards our goals.

Finally, give yourself something to look forward to.  Personal goals are often framed as a punishment, from saving money to diet and exercise, we have to feel “pain” before we see any “gain”.  But what if we framed it as the road for a job well-done?

Maybe at the end of the year, you visualize a stress-free Christmas because you won’t stress about buying gifts.  Or you can have extra dessert at family gatherings because you know a small thing like that isn’t going to derail all your hard work.

Sad Middles to Happy Endings

That was exactly what I did as I walked back into the exam room.  I took a deep breath, thought about what I had done right in preparing for the exam.

I forgave myself for any mistakes I might have made in the morning. The second half of the exam has an equal amount of points as the first half, so nothing was a foregone conclusion.

I promised myself that as soon as I finished the exam, I’d reward myself with well-earned ice-cream in the sunshine.

That ice-cream was amazing.

Oh, I did pass my exam. All because a mentor reminded me that the second half has equal weight as the first.

Let me know how you are doing on your 2019 goals. Do you need an extra shot of motivation? Shoot me a message!


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