Momentum is important in life.
The internal energy and drive that push us forward is a vital skill many people struggle to master.
You might be thinking, “Momentum isn’t a skill.” But we disagree.
Losing weight is a perfect example. If you’re like most people, at some point in time you’ve gone on a diet, started exercising, or maybe done both to shed a few pounds. Maybe before a vacation to look better in your bathing suit, or before a wedding. Unless you’re fortunate, you’ve been there. And for many of us, you’ve been there more than once.
In the beginning, when the weight seems to just melt off, most people find themselves highly motivated. The positive results are encouragement to keep going. They can see the distance between where they are and their goal shrinking with every pound lost. It’s measurable progress. So even if they slipped and ate that slice of chocolate cake (or let’s admit it, the entire cake…) They get back with the program.
One misstep isn’t the end because you have momentum. Your progress keeps the energy going.
But what happens when the weight loss slows, or even stops? What happens when weeks pass with no results?
You feel discouraged. Disappointed. Your drive to keep pushing forward and sticking with the plan falters. Maybe you decide this is as far as you can go on this plan, and you bounce to another one.
Or maybe you decide you’ve lost enough and you’re happy enough where you are. We all know that this is a lie we tell ourselves to feel better about that horrible word… FAILURE.
Either way, your momentum evaporated. It’s gone, and you stop moving forward. You give up.
“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” – Conrad Hilton
Whether you are trying to trim down, learn a new skill, or something else, you must capture the momentum and move forward. Success comes to those who act.
Keeping the momentum can be more difficult when your end goal is years away. Just as with a diet that stops working, it can be hard to stay motivated when you don’t see the progress and growth you expect or hope.
Many people make the mistake of looking at the past—what has happened—and seeing themselves as stuck. In their mind, they’re replaying all the things that didn’t go their way. The problem with this is that once you’ve thoroughly depressed yourself your motivating drive dries up. This makes it hard to move beyond the story you’re replaying in your mind. You get stuck in the loss.
Then, when looking at the present, instead of examining the problem that led to disappointment, people try to tackle the symptoms. But they don’t know the cause so this is a mission that is doomed to fail! Instead of looking at overall performance, what’s happening in the world, the consequences of different actions, and many other factors, people misdiagnose the problem and often their fixes make the initial issue worse. This happens all the time when fear causes people to sell out of the market during a slight downturn. They lose money they never get back.
Often when looking to the future, people don’t know what to do. They tend to try and fix too many things at once. But when they aren’t sure what caused the issue, they are really just throwing a bunch of things at the wall hoping one of them will stick. They’re left feeling overwhelmed by the vastness of what they have to do. Where do they start? What comes next? And if things still don’t work, what now? What didn’t work?
It’s impossible to know…
“One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals.” – Michael Korda
The next time you encounter a problem, a slight shift in thinking might give you more success. Let’s go back to where people start. As we said, many people make the mistake of looking at the past and seeing themselves as stuck. They replay all the things that went wrong. That’s not productive.
What has happened is important. It is, after all, what led you to where you are today. But when you try to solve a problem or fix an issue, start by hitting pause.
Pause the story. Instead of looking at all that went wrong, take a moment to find the things that went right.
Why would you do this? Quite simply, it’ll make you feel better. A positive, resourceful state is far more productive.
Then, take a deep breath and move into the present. What is the problem? Try to find a new perspective. You need to first identify the actual issue.
Once you have the problem in your sights, you can create an action plan to solve it. Then, choose a time to have your fix complete. A tip here is to keep the time table and solution as simple as possible. The harder something is, the longer you should allow yourself.
Everyone gets discouraged. Everyone stumbles sometimes. The key is to keep going and not let your momentum fail—and if it does, to recapture your drive and move forward.