Have you ever found yourself in the “messy middle” of a goal? You’ve come too far to turn back, but the finish line still feels far away. Do you let the goal slide and give up? Do you grit your teeth and just push through, even if you’re running on empty? How do you get through this part of the journey?
In this episode, Blake and Verbs talk with Marissa Hyatt, director of marketing, about one of the most valuable resources for goal achievement: encouragement. They go over four actions you can take to refuel emotionally and replenish your confidence, sense of agency, and belief—and get to the other side.
In this episode, you’ll discover—
- How to make encouragement a natural part of your relationships
- Why you should curate your media for your current emotional needs
- The power of the phrase “if I say so”
- The surprising value of a daily treasure hunt
Marissa: Guys, let me tell you about this big goal I had at the beginning of this year. I decided at the beginning of this year that 2020 was not going to bleed into 2021, that I was going to take back control, and I set this big goal at the beginning of the year to buy a house by March 30. I was super excited. This was the first house I was ever going to purchase. I had rented for years. It was huge. It was audacious. It was risky. It was exciting…all the things. Several months in… I actually had set this goal at the very end of last year, so I had been searching for a house since November.
Come probably end of January, beginning of February, I was so exhausted and so discouraged from looking for a house… If you know anything about the Nashville housing market… I know it’s pretty typical across the board. It was insane. It was bananas. I mean, people coming in paying cash offers, just totally sideswiping you. You’d be looking at a house, and someone would be making an offer at the same time. It was nuts. I was ready to throw in the towel and just go put another lease on a house. I had no clue what to do. It was exhausting, and it was super discouraging.
Blake: Courtney, wow! What a story. I can’t help but notice you’re looking a little different today and sounding a little different.
Marissa: Yeah. I’ve had this weird cold or scratch in my throat.
Blake: It’s like a scratch in your throat that makes your Southern accent go away.
Marissa: It’s just gone. I don’t know. It’s like this new variant or something. I don’t know what’s going on.
Blake: So, we have as a recurring guest now to the folks on this podcast…
Verbs: Officially. Yes.
Blake: The one, the only, Marissa Hyatt is here joining us. Thank you for coming out of the gate strong, illustrating what we call the messy middle. It’s that part on your journey toward a goal where the timeline is not working in your favor, and it feels like you’re not going to make it. You’re feeling discouraged, and you kind of just want to let it slide and give up. If that’s where you are listening, this is the episode for you. We have some encouragement for you, some practical steps you can do to bring yourself up and to finish that goal journey strong.
Verbs: Welcome to another episode of Focus on This, the most productive podcast on the Internet, so you can banish distractions, get the right stuff done, and finally start loving Mondays. I’m Verbs, here with Blake Stratton and Marissa Hyatt. Happy Monday to you both. Welcome back, Marissa.
Marissa: Thanks. I’m excited to be here, guys.
Blake: Happy Monday to you too, Verbs.
Verbs: Hey, thanks, Blake. I appreciate it. I think I’m ready to jump in already.
Blake: Let’s do it.
Marissa: Me too.
Blake: We’re talking about the messy middle, which I think we all have experience with, but the biggest thing I think you need in the messy middle is encouragement. We mentioned that before we broke just now. It really is a fuel for you. So often, I think… At least this is me. I don’t know if you felt this way, Marissa. In your example, so much of your goal trajectory and success felt like it was outside of your control…the housing market, other people making offers.
It’s different than just a goal of “Hey, let’s wake up at 6:00 a.m. every day,” where you have a little bit more agency, maybe. But encouragement, wherever you’re at on your journey or what your goal is, can help you get that sense of power and agency and belief back. What we want to do in this episode is just give you some practical actions you can take to refuel on the emotional level.
Marissa: Absolutely. I think whether it’s people in our lives or just what we’re surrounding ourselves with on a daily basis, we’re getting to decide if we’re encouraging ourselves, fueling ourselves, giving ourselves that lifeblood, almost, to keep us going, that fuel in the tank to keep us going to the end.
My dad likes to say the messy middle is when you’re too far in to go back, but you’re not far enough, so it feels like you can’t get to the other side. That’s exactly what it feels like. We’ve all been there. I’m sure everybody listening can think of a time in their life when they just felt like, “Gosh! I can’t go back, and I don’t know if I have what it takes to go forward.”
Verbs: That’s why today we’re going to look at four actions we can take to fill up on our encouragement. I’m excited about this episode, guys, because I think, again, looking at this last quarter, there is an opportunity to replenish our confidence in what we’re looking to do. So, how about we hop into the first action? Blake, if you don’t mind kicking us off, how do we get started?
Blake: The first action is recruit your people. This one is in the center of the target for me. I remember back when I had my own marketing consulting business that I did. If I was struggling toward hitting a goal, which was pretty common, my gut reaction was never to get help from others or seek out people intentionally to get encouragement. I actually just shrunk inward.
I didn’t want anyone to know I was struggling, because I felt kind of embarrassed and ashamed about it, and I thought, “Well, if I tell people where I’m really at, then maybe their perception of me will decrease, and I don’t want to focus on what I’m not doing well anyway.” I would justify it and try to fix all of my own problems, but it’s a little bit… We compared encouragement to this emotional fuel.
It’s a little bit like if your car doesn’t have any gas in it, and you’re like, “No, no, no! I know how to drive a car.” And you just press the pedals down, and you’re turning. You’re not going anywhere because you don’t have any fuel. It’s not because you’re a dope. It’s not because the car is broken. You actually just need some fuel, and it’s okay that you don’t have it.
I’m preaching directly to myself on this, because this still isn’t my natural thing that I would do. Even this past year, I look around me, and I’m like, “Wow!” Even on my calendar, I have two meetings this week, and really, the sole purpose of them is I’m going to be seeking out encouragement from these guys in my life who are not intimidated by my goals. I can share openly with them. That really is priceless, I think.
Verbs: I’m with you in the same boat, Blake. Not intimidated by your goals, but then also not overly impressed by you to where they won’t share with you what you need to know to keep going forward. I think that is important also, because that always takes us being in a posture of humility. Using the gas example, that may have happened to me once or twice, where you actually run out of gas, knowing you had opportunities before that to get gas, but you chose to keep going.
Blake: Oh my gosh, yes. I have done that.
Marissa: One important thing here, too… Have you ever said to somebody, basically, “Look. I’m struggling. I need some encouragement…” Have you ever said that and then regretted it? I can’t think of any time in my life when I have asked someone for help or encouragement or just support where I thought, “Man, I shouldn’t have done that.” I mean, every single time, I’m so grateful. My people come through for me. I think that’s true.
This can look really different for a lot of people. If you’re in a relationship, married, this might be asking your spouse. This might be looking to your best friends. It could be a small group. It could be going into our Full Focus Planner Community and saying, “Look. I’m struggling on this goal, and I need some encouragement here.” So, this can look like a lot of different things depending on who your people are, but guaranteed, you’re not going to regret asking for encouragement.
Verbs: I’m glad you brought up the Full Focus Community, because there are a lot of times I’ll peek in there and look at the questions people are posing to others, and they’re being fully transparent, fully vulnerable by posing those questions, but, like you mentioned, the amount of responses or replies or other tips people have to get them going in the right direction… I mean, they’re multiple. They’ll start a whole thread just in the response of, “Hey, I’m struggling with this. What do you guys do?” Again, the level of vulnerability and humility it takes to do that… But once you do it, you’re so grateful, because the payoff is immeasurable.
Marissa: Guys, how do you make encouragement a regular part or just a natural part of your closest relationships? What does that look like for y’all?
Blake: For me, the biggest lesson is I’ve had to be intentional with it. I’ve tried to not do that and just be like, “Oh, well, if I’m worthy of encouragement, surely someone will encourage me.” Almost like that’s kind of the narrative that’s playing in the background of my head. For me, I’ve realized I actually just have to be up front. Like what you said, Marissa…to actually ask.
The biggest way that comes up regularly in my life is with my wife Alaina, where I will say, “Hey, I’m noticing I’m feeling this way. I know that what I’m thinking right now isn’t where… I’m not going to stay here, but I’m feeling really crappy, and I’m not ready to even fix it. I just kind of need to know that I’m not the worst. Can you give me some encouragement?” And she actually does, which is pretty great. I kind of scored with the ol’ spouse choice.
Marissa: What about you, Verbs?
Verbs: This is something I’m still working on as well, but I do feel like what helps also is us taking moments to encourage other people, as well as seeking encouragement. I tend to kind of graft encouragement from people versus asking for encouragement, per se.
So, if I know I might be feeling a certain way or feel stuck in a certain mindset, then I’ll actively go out and pull from resources, whether it’s a book, whether it’s a speaker of some sort, or just friends I know in conversations, to be able to pull encouragement in those moments. So, I don’t think I have all that figured out yet, but I appreciate what we’re talking about today, just even being more active in figuring out, “All right. What leads to replenishing for my own soul and my own mindset in those areas?”
Marissa: I love that.
Blake: All right. Let’s talk about the second action. This is to audit your media, which essentially means be careful what you listen to. Or maybe better put, choose intentionally what you read and what you listen to, almost like a diet. Think about your media diet, just like you would your nutritional diet. Last night I went to Shake Shack, and it was an incredible choice.
Marissa: Sounds good.
Blake: But if I was eating Shake Shack every lunchtime and dinnertime, you guys would be able to tell, because I would feel terrible, and I would be exhausted, probably. The same thing is true… Sometimes just by default we have media that’s not that nutritional, so to speak, from an emotional building perspective. So, that’s what this action is about. I would actually love to hear from you two what that looks like for you in terms of… Have you noticed, “Hey, I’ve had to unfollow that person” or “I’ve had to turn off the news” or whatever else? How do you audit your media in your own life?
Marissa: This started, for me, a few months into quarantine last year. I realized that everything felt so heavy. I previously used to watch true crime series or these really intense dramas, and I loved it. Then, all of a sudden, it felt like, “I cannot have anything this intense coming at me. The world itself is super intense right now, and I can’t handle anything else.” So, I absolutely did a media audit. I mean, at this point, y’all… My TV consumption, first of all, has dwindled. I used to be much more involved in watching shows, but now it’s like Ted Lasso, interior design shows, gardening shows… Basically, the adult version of Mister Rogers is what I’m looking for.
Verbs: Man, that’s huge.
Marissa: Because it’s too much. I can’t deal with all that’s going on in the world and then also have it fictionally coming at me.
Nick: Marissa, I have to pop in here for you. This is a recommendation for you. You said, “Adult Mister Rogers.” I have a signed Mister Rogers thing right here. I love Mister Rogers. There is a show… It’s on Adult Swim, which for all y’all who may or may not know, it’s what Cartoon Network turns into. It seems like not the right place for this show, but it’s a show called Joe Pera Talks With You. Does anyone know what this show is?
Anyway, it’s like “Joe Pera talks with you about dancing” or “Joe Pera talks with you about fall drives.” It’s this really pretty, beautifully shot show, where he just takes these really small things. It’s very intentional. It’s very sweet. People in our house regularly cry to this dumb show. I highly recommend Joe Pera Talks With You. There’s a new season coming out this fall. I’m going to send you a link to a particular one. It’s the best.
Marissa: Send me a link.
Nick: Okay. I’ll shut up now.
Marissa: That sounds great. I think the other thing, too, is your Instagram, or whatever social media you choose to consume… For me it’s Instagram. But making sure it’s curated, taking out people who are negative, just making sure you’re not consuming that energy. At the end of the day, when I get on my phone, or for a couple of minutes here and there, the last thing I need is super negative input that’s going to discourage me or make me feel like I can’t win or, when I’m in the messy middle, that “There’s no point; just give up.” That’s the last thing anybody needs.
Verbs: Yeah. And just knowing that if you block somebody or unfollow somebody, it’s okay. You won’t be missing anything if they’re bringing that type of energy. They’re not adding anything into your thought process or your day or just your sanity in general. I tend to think about even music in the same way. At certain points, if you might be struggling with anxiety, or just whatever mental state you find yourself in in a moment, pay attention to your music diet, because that comes with a whole lot of stuff and emotions and things like that.
Blake used to listen to a lot of R&B, and I know he can underscore this and attest to what I’m saying now. You listen to it when you’re in a certain moment because you want to feel the moment, but sometimes when you’re stuck, you might not want to go that route and find something else that goes the other direction to kind of lift you out of that.
Blake: Yeah. When I need some positive R&B… I was singing this before we got on the call, the Chance The Rapper and Cardi B song: “I’m living my best life! It’s my birthday, at least that’s what I’m dressed like.” So, there you go. That’s a freebie for everyone. Oh, gosh! Did you guys hear that? Everyone just unsubscribed all at once across the nation. That was wild. In unison.
Verbs: Across the world.
Marissa: All right. The third action is affirm yourself. This one is maybe, if I had to put some money on it, the most critical out of all of these. Your self-talk is so critical to your success. Essentially, what you think will become your reality. What you affirm or deny or reject or put down in terms of your thoughts and your words…that will happen.
One of my favorite things to say… One of my sisters actually gave this phrase to the rest of our family. When people are talking and they say, “Oh my gosh. Well, I could never accomplish that goal because I’m not successful enough,” I just want to look at them and say, “If you say so.” It’s like the ultimate phrase to make somebody stop in their tracks and be like, “Wait. What?” It kind of shakes them out of their typical thought process.
Every time you’re talking about something or you’re having these thoughts go through your head and you feel discouraged, just tell yourself, “If I say so.” Essentially, that’s what’s going to happen if I believe it, if I’m saying it. What you affirm is so critical. Your self-talk is so critical to your success.
One of the practices I do (I’ve talked about this on the podcast with y’all before) is I have what I call my morning manifestation recording, where I basically go through a whole rundown of, essentially, everything I want to come to fruition in my life. It’s everything from my relationships to physical possessions to my health, just every different aspect of my life. I listen to that every morning. It’s in my own voice. I recorded it myself, so it’s in my own voice. I think our voice is incredibly powerful. So, I don’t know if you guys have any similar practices that you do, but I would love to hear. Blake, you do something similar. Right?
Blake: Yeah. I do some similar stuff to that. Another thing that has been helpful is journaling for me in the morning. To me, journaling is something that’s healthy or… At least for me, I have to kind of change it up every so often, just to keep it interesting. What I’ve been doing this quarter is going through a few questions each morning that I find are super helpful, almost to rev me up for my day from a self-affirmation standpoint. Do you guys want to know what I journal about?
Marissa: Yeah. Do we get to read your diary?
Blake: Yeah, you can read my diary right now. Basically, where I start is actually not about myself. I just pick some topic that’s easy to notice positive things about. I literally will just choose something, because sometimes I wake up and I’m not in a good mood, and it’s hard to then just do, “I believe in myself, and I love myself.” It helps to kind of break out of whatever emotion I’m in. So, that’s why I do that.
I’ll pick something like… It could be just coffee, what I love about coffee. “Oh my gosh. It tastes so delicious. I get it delivered to my house from a different roaster, and that’s so convenient. It’s nice to drink something…” I literally just riff on that for five seconds. Then I’ll journal about some things I like about myself, and I’ll just write some of those things down. Then I ask myself, “What are you building toward today?” and get a sense of why I am even going through the motions today. “What drives you today?” and “What do you want to hand over to God today?” This is a question I ask myself. Like, what do I feel like I’m carrying that I ought not to be?
Then the last thing I do is script out the day, like, what the day would look like ideally, knowing what I have on my calendar, and then I just take a second as I’m writing it to try to tap into those emotions as I’m writing that script. It’s pretty awesome. It only takes me five or six minutes or so to go through that stuff, but it really helps put me in that encouraged mindset, like, “Oh, today matters. I matter. Good things are happening, and I don’t have to do it all.”
Marissa: What’s so cool about that is you have agency to make today great. You scripting it out like that allows you to be in the driver’s seat. You’re, at the beginning of the day, dictating what is going to happen and what it’s going to look like. Sure, stuff is going to come at you throughout the day, and it’s probably not going to look exactly like you wrote it in the morning, but I would bet it probably looks somewhat similar.
Blake: Yeah. It’s interesting, because even if it doesn’t go according to my script, the mental and emotional state I’m in is positive expectation versus negative expectation, no matter what, and that’s super powerful, because I can end my day going, “Oh, yeah. It was pretty good.”
Marissa: My mom used to send us off to school in the morning and ask us to go on a treasure hunt. She would say, “Come back this afternoon from school with three treasures,” or whatever. It was basically little things during the day that brought us joy. She’s one of the most positive people I know, but having that positive outlook… When you look for something that is a treasure, you’re going to notice a ton of treasures. Just like you were saying. Once you start with your coffee and noticing the beauty and the gifts and the deliciousness and all the things, it’s easier to see that in yourself and in everything else in your life.
Blake: Question: Is Gail available to drive me to work in the mornings? Is that a possibility? I think I need that. That would be another way to start the day right.
Marissa: Gail’s positive Uber rides coming at you.
Nick: Every morning when my child leaves I just say to him, “Make good choices today.” That’s a very different tone. He usually does.
Blake: Do you ever start that with “Dear God, make good choices today”?
Nick: “Just please make good choices today.”
Marissa: Oh, that’s good.
Verbs: All right. The fourth action is join a like-minded community. We kind of talked about it in the first action, the importance of surrounding your people, having go-to voices you can depend on for encouragement. Just having a group of people around you who are all moving in the same direction as you is one of the most encouraging experiences you could be a part of, because, again, it’s not a group of people who are counteracting or contradicting what you’re doing.
You can log on to Facebook and be in that kind of a group if you would like, but like-minded is the key word here: people who have maybe some of the same outlooks regarding goals, goal achievement, encouragement, whether it be a faith-based sort of thing… At least having that pool of people you can go to is going to help you continue to move on in the direction you want to go also.
Blake: Yeah. I hear this a lot from our clients in BusinessAccelerator. It’s our small business coaching program. They joined because they wanted to learn the stuff, but so much of the value they got was because, “Oh, I’m not alone. I’m not the only small business owner who feels really overwhelmed and like I need help or is struggling with inadequacy or how to lead well.” All of a sudden, they’re surrounded by people across dozens of industries who are either in that place or have been in that place in the not-too-distant past. It’s so encouraging to know, “Hey, I’m not in this alone.” So, yeah. Everyone join that as well.
Marissa: Sometimes just seeing somebody else do something… When you’re in that messy middle and you feel like, “I don’t know if I can do this…” I was recently doing this really intense 75-day challenge. It’s called 75 Hard for those of you who know what that is. I was like, “Man!” I got about halfway through that thing, and I was like, “Seventy-five days is a really long time, and this is a really intense challenge, and I don’t know if I can do this.”
This is silly. I didn’t know anybody who was doing it. I had started with a group of people. They fell off a few weeks in. I ended up going on Instagram and looking at the hashtag and finding people who were doing it. Seeing people who were farther along in the process than me gave me so much hope and so much encouragement.
I was like, “Okay. You know what? If they can do it, then I can too. There’s nothing special about them that isn’t special about me too. I can make that happen.” I think sometimes that is key. Obviously, one of our favorite communities is our Full Focus Planner Community on Facebook, and we encourage y’all to join that, because it is such an amazing group of people who are going after really exciting, ambitious goals. Like we said earlier, it is super encouraging.
Verbs: I think this goes without saying. When we say a “like-minded community…” Not necessarily always be around people who may be just an echo chamber of your own voice, but like Blake mentioned, some of these clients get into a group where they have peers who are in different industries and can look at the same type of situation from a different perspective to kind of offer some advice going forward or a solution that might be worthy of them looking at. You get a diversity of thought, but it’s all around building and scaling your business in a healthy way, or whatever the issue might be. So, just being like-minded in that sense versus everybody in the group is saying the same exact thing. That could end up being not as healthy.
So, the good news is you don’t have to feel stuck on your goals. You can power breakthrough with encouragement when you recruit your people, audit your media, affirm yourself, and join a like-minded community. Blake, Marissa, this has been a fun one, very insightful, very introspective. Would you have any final thoughts for our listeners before we’re out?
Blake: I have a quick one. We talked about this analogy of encouragement being emotional fuel, almost like fuel for a car. My final thought is if you find yourself needing encouragement or that taking those actions is going to take some effort, because, “Man, I really need encouragement right now,” don’t let that be a sign that you’re doing the goal achievement thing poorly. We told you “Set a risky goal.” We told you to do something that’s outside of your comfort zone. Every person who’s good at goal achievement needs encouragement.
I got a new car recently, and if I were to drive it and then, all of a sudden, the low fuel gauge kicks in, I wouldn’t say, “Oh my gosh! They sold me a lemon. This is a garbage car. I guess I ought to resell it or something, because I got tricked into this car.” That’s not it at all. You just need to put fuel in the tank. So, if you’re finding yourself… If that fuel gauge, so to speak, of encouragement is blinking at you, two things.
First, that’s normal, and that’s very appropriate if you’re trying to do something new and risky. Secondly, it’s not going to refuel itself. You actually have to take an action to intentionally get the fuel. It doesn’t happen automatically, and you need to take that action before, like Verbs and I have done, you’re on the side of the road calling for help because you waited too long and your car literally has run out of gas. So, that’s my final thought for you: you’re okay to need encouragement, and you’re actually capable and powerful to seek it out for yourself.
Marissa: That’s so good. I would just say, just to give everybody who’s listening a little bit of encouragement: you can do hard things. You have every bit of resource inside of you to accomplish whatever the goal is that you set out to accomplish. You can do it. If you don’t know how or where to turn, look to the people in your life. Ask them for that encouragement.
Certainly, this podcast should be an encouragement to you, because you can do it. You will. I’m sitting in my house that I ended up buying. We started with that story, and I’m sitting in that house. I purchased it. I didn’t think I was going to be able to. Stick with it, because you can, and you will. It’s just a matter of time.
Verbs: Absolutely. Just a reminder, this is the most productive podcast on the Internet, so please share it with your friends, and don’t forget, as we mentioned earlier in this episode, to join the Full Focus Planner Community right there on Facebook. We’ll be here next week with another great episode. Until then…
All: Stay focused!