“It’s time to move on, it’s time to get goin’...” -Tom Petty
Why is momentum hard to get going sometimes? I think this is where the direction, size and force comes into play. If you don’t have a clear direction, i.e. getting distracted, shifting focuses etc. it’s going to be hard to build momentum. If the size is too extreme, you might run out of fuel before you get good momentum going, and what about force? There might need to be an expenditure of greater force to get the momentum moving- so why even try?
Because once you gain momentum, you’re hard to stop! Forces are working for you now, not against you.
Momentum is a vector- it includes both direction and magnitude. So the size or extent of something, the direction it is going and the force being applied to it (and also the resistance that is overcome) is momentum.
Let’s tackle the mass or size of your goal first. Let’s say you want to run a marathon just as an example. That end goal might seem way out of reach right now, but does finding a training plan feel more doable? We need to break it down into more achievable tasks. A format I like to use with myself and clients looks something like this:
List one thing I can do today to get me closer to my goal
When should it be completed?
What do I need to complete this step?
Were any new steps identified in the process?
Maybe after you found a training plan you realized you need a coach too to help you with your mental game and tweaking your plan to fit your needs. Or maybe your plan is great, but you realize you need to wake up a little earlier to make sure you are getting it done, and you're eating a bit differently to fuel your body, etc.
Now let’s consider direction. Having a clear idea of where you want to go, is key. If you set vague goals you’re going to get vague results. Make sure they are as specific as you can make them.
Using the marathon example again, maybe you would sign up for a race on a specific date, and shoot for a specific time.
Another thing that goes overlooked in relation to direction, is keeping your focus on your OWN goals, and not comparing them or your progress against anyone else.
Once we played a game with 2 couples that had to keep a balloon up in the air between each other. Whoever kept it in the air the longest won. Well, one couple decided to push the other couple's balloon over to get them out, but what ended up happening is they dropped their own balloon. They were so focused on derailing the other couples balloon they couldn’t focus on themselves.
We usually aren’t trying to one-up each other or tear the other person down when we compare, but we do sometimes feel inferior and insecure when we compare how we are struggling to someone else’s success.
I found that owning my journey worked best for me. I didn’t post about it on social media, and I only talked about it with a trusted mentor and friend. When I was finished I felt like I could finally talk about my journey, because I was in a safe space. I didn’t want the perception of others to mess with my head, whether real or perceived.
Finally, I can’t finish this post without addressing one more component: Resistance
At first, resistance will feel like the enemy of all enemies. You will need to run to reach your marathon goal, but sleeping in feels so much better, it’s cold in the morning, and your body feels tired.
BUT, if you push against the resistance, show up day after day, following your plan, and check in with your coach or mentor, soon you will realize that it was your friend all along.
It is the very thing that is strengthening you, and without it– there is no goal!
As you push against that resistance, soon you will start to feel your muscles working FOR you and not AGAINST you anymore! You have mental clarity and confidence. You start hitting your sprint goals and you realize what you are really capable of. What else could you accomplish if you used this mentality in other areas of your life? This is momentum my friends! This is the freedom of acting instead of being acted upon! Now YOU are in control!
There’s a book that goes into more detail on the subject of “momentum” that I absolutely loved and highly recommend. It’s called THE SLIGHT EDGE, by JEFF OLSON. It explains why it takes consistent effort over time to finally take off, and the importance of doing the “little things” that are easy to do and easy not to do, but make a huge difference.
For our visual learners, below is a diagram of how momentum LOOKS: