“Momentum begets momentum, and the best way to start is to start.” – Gil Penchina
In both our personal and professional lives, starting something new or putting ideas into action requires initial energy plus sustaining momentum – motivation need not apply. Newton’s 3rd Law relates to momentum and states that an object will keep moving in the same direction unless influenced by an external force, and that our keeping that moving object in motion requires less energy than would our breaking inertia to stop it. Once motion is initiated, momentum is the key to success. Should we lose momentum, a significantly stronger stimulus of energy is required to restart. Understanding our impulse to lose momentum is the key behind ultimately achieving what we intended.
Our misperceptions surrounding the feelings associated with stagnation, progress, and failure, relative to our expectations, compel our most affirming or defeating actions. By default, we avoid discomfort generally and often too avoid the next action required to maintaining momentum. That, or we get too comfortable prematurely towards the end of an endeavor, lose momentum and as a result fail. In business, careers, productivity, and habit building, if one simply keep’s up momentum, they are inclined to keep going, because stopping is more difficult.
The Key to Your Success is Built on Discomfort
Ironically, after lacking the bandwidth to write for months, while in the throes of a company rebrand, I chose to write a blog in March on this very topic of momentum. The discomfort entailed proves that my writing on this topic alone was my next small action. Inarguably seasonal, we are especially susceptible to waning momentum in March, if not near burnt-out completely. Contempt for the winter blues has set in months before Spring can bolster spirits. Myriad perceptions exhaustingly weigh on our collective spirit in March. Feelings most likely to
unwittingly derail momentum include those of being over-indulged, cash-poor and maxed out post two months of Holiday festivities. Winter has seemingly slowed down, yet taxes are due, New Year’s Resolutions fallen waist-side, literally, and all the calendared benchmarks you set to judge your year’s performance are now seemingly irrelevant. Whatever the feeling, your perception and impulse will get the better of you.
Our ability to recognize our own aversion to discomfort or probability to act on misperceptions is critical to our vulnerability for failure, as is our compulsion to procrastinate toxic. Procrastination results from low conscientiousness, high levels of worry, impulsivity, and perfectionist tendencies. Maintaining momentum in the face of the worst procrastination is no more complicated than our determining our intentional next action. Ask yourself: What is the next step at minimum, no matter how small, to keep just moving?
March On and Forward with Momentum
Cause and effect rarely follow a linear path, yet our maintaining momentum precedes our greatest accomplishments, while our losing momentum guarantees our greatest setbacks. Momentum maintained by taking the next forward action is that what carries us through the uncomfortable stretches, but rarely attributed when we succeed.
Energy levels are lowest, and our goals’ reach the furthest away just before the “miracle” of life’s leveling up the moment momentum is established, and never a nanosecond too soon. Don’t give up just before the miracle – it’s harder than hanging on. Momentum artificially feigned can culminate in the next necessary action; just fake it until you make it.
Maintaining momentum while on cusp of my miracle was the exact directive, I gave myself this morning. In Newtonian lingo, that means no cheerleading is needed to maintain momentum on what I started. I just need to show up. While exhausted, to stop what I have started would entail infinitely more effort.