Muddying The Waters


One thing I've noticed consistently in the years I've been coaching is that whenever a client makes a decision and a commitment to make significant changes in their life, initially things can seem to get worse before they get better. 

I call that the 'muddying the waters' effect. 

It's just like what happens to the end of your driveway after you have a nice long rain. The runoff in the form of water and dirt from the rain tends to collect in a puddle at the base of the driveway, right? 

As it sits there, the water looks fairly clear and calm. However, if you were to take your garden hose and spray away the puddle, all the mud and soil that has also collected in that puddle gets stirred up, and things start looking pretty messy and dirty, at least until your hose has had a chance to work on the puddle and muck and wash it all away. 

Life can be the same way. 

When you're tackling something in your life that you want to handle (in my case, it's my current list of house remodel to-dos), often what happens is that once you get started, the mud and dirt start to show. 

Things might get pretty messy for awhile. 

Often things even start to break. 

The last week or so we've had a couple of excellent contractors working at our house to complete some of the items on my list. In the process of finishing their own work, invariably something else would break, be uncovered, or just create more work and stress (often for me!). 

For instance, we had all the exterior lights replaced recently, and in the process of doing some rewiring, the electrician inadvertently drilled up through the side of a brand-new wooden step we had just had installed. Not a huge deal, but something that had to also then be repaired, meaning additional work. 

We also had some finishing work done on some interior doors and door jams while we were away for the weekend. The result is absolutely beautiful, and as an added bonus, we discovered that every single surface in our house, both vertical and horizontal, was covered with a significant layer of grit due to the sanding. Not a huge deal, but it did mean a major cleaning job that we weren't expecting. 

Several other little surprises showed up as well, all adding up to more work, more time, more money, and much more energy than we had planned to invest. The last week, it seems like the more I tried to get things handled, the more things popped up to handle. So we just kept handling them! And to my delight, today I went back through my house list, and I'm down to 55 items (down from 140)! 

As unpleasant as all of this may sound, going through the 'muddying the waters' phase is actually a very good thing. 

It means you're starting to get to the heart of the matter. You're on the right track. You're getting your hands dirty. 

You're doing the work; in fact, it's the ONLY way to do the work. 

And eventually, the water will wash clean again.