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Messy is the beginning of something new

Updated: Feb 27

With it being the new year, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about the topic of messiness

It seems to be that, even with the best intentions, even with the most appropriate and extensive planning, even with the most open mind - things are always messy at the beginning. 

Take the example of tidying up your room - you start tidying because things are messy, but things get progressively more messy as you keep going, before it gets better. 

Take the example of starting a job - you knew exactly what you were doing before you started the job, then things get messy as you get into the job, and it’s around 6 months before you fully get integrated. 

Or how about starting new things in life? New intentions, new habits, new routines - everything is sooooo messy that many have the tendency to give up. How many times have you heard people say (or yourself say!) “my goodness it’s so much worse than before I started, I wish I’d never began / I’m just going to give up now and put it back how it was before - so much easier…”?

We’ve all had this thought. We’ve all done this so many times. We’ve all given up on new ideas/concepts/intentions/routines…because we’re not used to it, and everything in our heads seem jumbled up. 

Well, what if it’s supposed to be like this? What if our minds were built in this way to create confusion and messiness? It sounds totally counterintuitive (I know!), but it actually is true - this is how our minds are designed to work. 

So when we want to start something new, (let’s use going to the gym as an example), this is how it normally works: 

  1. we set the intention in our minds to do so

  2. we research and sign up to the best gym based on the knowledge of ourselves (it’s on the way home from work, it’s at work, it’s affordable, etc)

  3. We set ourselves up to win by packing our gym kit the night before, setting an alarm, etc

  4. Day 1 arrives, we go to the gym excited and enthusiastic

  5. Day 2 arrives, we go to the gym slightly less excited but still motivated

  6. Day 3-5 /6 we are still going, but as each day passes, it gets harder and harder to motivate ourselves, and suddenly we find that we cannot fit it into our schedule….

Our lives, routine, mood, motivation, suddenly are all affected, everything gets overwhelming, confusing, messy in our heads, and the only thing we know we changed was the gym, so in order to stop the messiness, is to quit the gym…isn’t it? 

This loop has been designed by our minds as a safety mechanism

The job of our minds is to keep us safe, and in order for it to do so, it will work to eliminate anything that is out of the ordinary / outside of our comfort zone. Because of this, even though we know the new habit/intention we’re building is for the best, we will still find a way to sabotage ourselves, because our minds have deemed it to be unsafe. So actually, when things seem really jumbled up, confusing, and messy at the beginning of something new, it’s a sign that you’re in the right place! It means that you’re stepping into the unfamiliar, and your mind is trying to stop you. 

In order to get out of this loop, here are the steps you can take: 

  1. The first and most important thing is to recognise and understand that this is normal. Rather than fighting it (which you’ll simply be wasting your energy), come to terms with it, accept it, so you can work with it. When you learn to work with something, you’re not allowing it to hinder you - you’re simply not focusing on / wasting your time on it so you have more time and energy to create what you truly want. 

  1. Next is to create a structure where you enable yourself to build up to your goal / intention in a manageable way. Instead of going from 0 to 7 days at the gym, start with 2, get used to it and allow your body and mind to integrate this new change (i.e. it becomes the norm, which usually takes approx, 2-3 weeks), before shifting it to 3 days a week, etc. Ensure it is scheduled in your calendar. If it’s not in your calendar, you’re basically telling your mind that it’s not important. 

  1. Hold yourself accountable, either through yourself, your friends/partner/family, or even apps. Ideally it would be with a person that you know has the same intentions/goals, or someone you know is definitely going to keep you accountable (i.e they will tell you off if you don’t stick to it!) in order to make this process more fun and more effective. 

  1. Get a journal and note down your feelings each time you miss a session. When you miss a session that you scheduled in, write down how you feel about missing it, what was going through your head when you decided to miss it. This is not to make yourself feel awful and useless - this is so you truly understand what triggered you to not want to go. This step is super powerful because it will help you build an awareness of how your mind is tricking you to stay in your comfort zone, so you can plan steps to eliminate this. 

By taking these steps, you’ll be able to stop worrying about the messiness at the beginning. Every journey will start messy, because it’s supposed to. Use this process to flush out what no longer serves you, and use it to empower yourself with self awareness.

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