Many people fail to live a good life because they can’t maintain momentum in their lives.
Momentum is the virtue that keeps things going.
Here’s how it works.
What Is Momentum?
Momentum is about keeping things going and moving forward.
It applies to objects, projects, ideas and sets of actions in your life.
It is about moving with both direction and speed, not slowing, and not stalling out.
It is the opposite of inertia.1Yes, I realise I am butchering the scientific terms here.
It is popularly known as the “snowball effect” or being “on a roll”, where things pick up speed and get better and better the more they continue.
What isn’t commonly recognised, is that momentum is a choice—one that we make through our actions and decisions to let things proceed in our lives, or not.
Why Is Momentum Important?
Momentum is important so that projects or initiatives can be completed, or can take on “a life of their own”.
This means that things should get bigger, faster and/or better until the project or initiative hits a certain critical mass.2And the butchery continues 😬. This is where whatever you are working on and pushing forward becomes a self-sustaining system capable of powering itself.
An example of this is exercise. People who don’t exercise universally find it difficult to get started and many stall out.
But those who push through and maintain their momentum eventually hit a tipping point/critical mass where their exercise routine is self-sustaining. You go from dragging yourself to the gym to feeling compelled to go to the gym.
Another example is in business, whereby almost all business have a certain magic metric that once reached, makes the business self-sustaining and take on a life of its own.3In contrast to the startup phase where the business is sustained mostly through hard work and funding. This metric could be market share, subscribers or simply turnover.
Astute readers will notice that this mirrors the process of building habits.
We start with a habit we would like to adopt, and use momentum as the system to solidify and repeat that habit until it hits “critical mass” for us, and becomes self-sustaining.
What Momentum Looks Like Daily
Momentum means getting to the end of the day and asking yourself if you kept things moving even when they were hard.
It is about looking at your goals or areas of life and asking:
- Did you encounter any obstacles?
- Did you stall out on anything?
- Did you keep things moving?
Practicing momentum daily simply means keeping things progressing, even if that progression is initially slow.
How to Systematically Develop Momentum
Momentum starts with having something to do. This could be a personal project, a business initiative or a habit to adopt.
And then you start it, and begin to progress it.
As you progress, you will encounter obstacles and perhaps even stall for a bit.
If there is a feedback loop, you enhance the positive and diminish the negative and use that to keep things going.
If there is no feedback loop, you take a leap of faith and keep things going anyway.
And as you progress further, you recognise when things are picking up speed in the right direction until they reach a tipping point.
You can also use other systems such as rituals, most important task, other virtues or anything in the time management stack to help you gain and maintain momentum.
Aside: Use Momentum, Not Passion
If you are a systems thinker, process-oriented or an INTJ-type, then momentum is often more important for you than passion is.
When you get started on something, you will likely not have the passion to pull you through the initial obstacles and hurdles – but you will have momentum.
What To Do Next
When you next start on something, don’t give up-just keep going.
Use momentum to help you progress and recognise that eventually your efforts will reach a tipping point where they become self-sustaining.
If you would like to find out how momentum can fit alongside your other virtues and systems, you can download my manifesto Evolution here. It’s 100% free.
- Yes, I realise I am butchering the scientific terms here.
- And the butchery continues 😬.
- In contrast to the startup phase where the business is sustained mostly through hard work and funding.
Photo by Damon Lam.