Creating Momentum: How to take that first step and start a chain of actions that will result in the desired outcome coming to fruition.
“The hardest part of any journey is taking that first step.” – Unknown
Every journey is completed by taking one step at a time. Well, unless if you have a car or some other means of transportation, but that’s getting off topic. Creating momentum when motivation is lacking is a powerful skill to have.
Why need this skill? As mentioned in previous posts, motivation is an emotion that gets you to take action. When you’re already motivated, you’re facing your challenges head on, you’re pumped up and ready to take on the world and achieve your wildest dreams. You do one thing and it leads to the next, momentum builds up quick. But what if you’re not feeling too motivated? This is where the skill of creating momentum comes in. What do you do?
Take one step at a time. The first step is to be clear on the outcome and create a plan. Once you know the goal and make a plan, take immediate action. Success builds upon success. Once you get going, momentum kicks in and things just start to flow.
If you can get yourself to take that first step, the 2nd step will more easily follow, then the 3rd and 4th and so on. If you’ve ever had to force yourself to the gym and actually got there, you know what I mean. Chances are, if you were able to get yourself to the gym, you ended up working out.
Have you ever had the experience of having to write a term paper but got stuck on the first paragraph for hours? But once you started typing, one sentence led to the next and before you knew it, you had 5 pages (double spaced with arial font)? You finished because you began the process of creating momentum. The challenge was just to get started.
So creating momentum really comes down to finding ways to take those first few steps.
Now once you create momentum, does that mean it’ll last forever? No. Every journey will have pit-stops. It’s the same with momentum. Sometimes you will go a long distance before coming to a halt while other times you will go only a few steps before stopping.
The secret then is to learn how to start the momentum process. Your focus needs to be getting good at starting and restarting. If your car suddenly dies on the road, you need to figure out how to restart it.
So what causes momentum to stop or slow down in the first place? It could be several reasons. I’ll use the car analogy again.
Common Momentum Stoppers
Running out of gas (Burning out, doing too much for too long)
Starts to rain and there’s a steep road ahead (Challenges/setbacks )
Having to take a detour (Getting sidetracked )
Mapquest giving you crappy directions (Not seeing the results you were expecting)
There are all kinds of other things that can stop your momentum. So what you need to become good at is not just creating momentum but also recreate momentum during those times when it stops. Here are some tips using the car analogy once more.
Creating Momentum Tips
1. Check how big your tank is. The more gas it can hold, the better.
2. Know how to fill up your tank.
(What got you excited in the first place?)
3. Learn how to start your engine.
(Know how to get yourself to take action.)
4. Learn how to restart when your engine dies.
(Know how to take action even when you don’t feel like it)
The 1st and 2nd tips are self explanatory. If you don’t have strong enough reasons to go for a certain goal, either get some or choose another goal. You’ve got to really want what you’re going after, otherwise, what’s the point? Chances are, when you set the goal in the first place, you were fired up. Think back to what you were picturing in your mind and what you were saying to yourself. If you can get yourself back in that state, your motivation will surge.
For the 3rd and 4th tip, let me give you an effective tool to use. Remember, it’s all about getting yourself to take that first step. But first, you need to know what road to take. So again, be clear on the outcomes. Once you have that, here’s what you do.
The Power of 3 (Update (3/19/09): choose only ONE goal to work on, finish it, then start on the next)
I’ve found personally that when I focused on too many goals at once, few or none of them get accomplished. A better way is to pick 3 main goals for the entire year. These are 3 goals that if you accomplish them, they will make a big enough impact where you can say, “Wow, that was a great year!” and will align with your life purpose.
From there, you’re going to start to break it down even further. From those 3 one year goals, you would create 3 quarterly goals (3 month goals). From those goals, you would come up with 3 monthly goals, then 3 weekly goals, then finally 3 daily goals.
Achieving your yearly goals really come down to achieving your related daily goals. Now you might say, okay, I have my 3 most important, goal achieving, life changing goals to accomplish each day, but how do I get myself to take action on these daily goals to build momentum and get the ball rolling?
Here’s a strategy I’ve found to be extremely effective.
Take your 3 daily must do’s, and appoint and time frame to each one. 15, 30, or 60 minutes. Basically what you do is commit to working on your daily goal for either 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 60 minutes.
After the time is up, you can choose to stop. Thinking about spending hours and hours on a task can seem daunting enough for you to not even want to get started, which is the hardest part as mentioned many times. With this method, you actually allow yourself to just work on the goal for a limited of time. That way, you don’t get overwhelmed and “getting started” becomes a whole lot easier. Now you don’t have to use 15, 30, 60. You can use 30, 60, 90 or even 5, 10, 15.
The point of this method, as you will see once you start to apply it, is to eliminate most of the reasons that make it hard to take that first step. If you actually do this, you will notice that many times, once your “time limit” is up, you will want to keep going. Why? Because you have just created momentum.
Every goal no matter how big can be broken down into small manageable steps. If you focus on those first few steps, momentum will soon kick in and you’ll be well on your way to accomplishing your yearly goals. The skill of creating mometum is a powerful tool if you use it. Now go out and start creating momentum!