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The Power of Momentum

power of momentum

“The most important thing you can do to achieve your goals is to make sure that as soon as you set them, you immediately begin to create momentum.”  -Tony Robbins

Have you ever hesitated to take action and ended up stuck in a rut not knowing what to do? There are some common reasons why this happens.  Sometimes we are waiting for some kind of sign to indicate that it’s okay to move forward. We might be waiting until we feel more confident because we don’t really feel up to the challenge. Or, we could be thinking that if we just wait awhile those obstacles will disappear and our goals will be easier to achieve.

Okay, I admit that in some cases it’s entirely possible that one of these strategies is legitimate, or at least it feels like it is. But how often do we use those reasons as excuses to avoid leaving our comfort zone? Let’s face it, if we are looking to justify procrastination there is no shortage of reasonable sounding excuses we can use.

Procrastination is the opposite of momentum!

The longer we wait to take action, the harder it is to get started and build some momentum. Circumstances will never be perfect and waiting until they are is the same as going nowhere. The truth is, it will probably never get any easier to move forward and every moment that we hold back will just make things worse.

“Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.”   -Wayne Gretzky

Momentum can’t happen until we start taking action. When we avoid taking action it’s often because we have created resistance in our own mind. We have convinced ourselves that what we want to do is exceedingly difficult. But is that really true or is it just an avoidance technique?

Create momentum, create confidence

Momentum is one of those rare, self-perpetuation phenomenons. That’s what makes it so powerful. The perfect example of momentum is a snowball rolling down a snow covered bank. What happens? It grows and picks up speed along the way, right? But how can you use this power to achieve your goals and start living the life of your dreams?

Instead of getting bogged down by excuses, try to create some momentum as soon as possible. And really, this is not something that is all that difficult to do. That giant, fast moving snowball started out small and slow. The reason it grew was because it kept moving. We don’t always need to launch into action like a rocket, but we do need to start moving and to keep moving so we can build some momentum.

Taking consistent action toward your goals is the best way to build momentum. That means that taking action will get easier and easier as you go along. Eventually the actions you take will require much less effort.  You’ll begin to enjoy your activities because you’ll feel more empowered and confident and you’ll have momentum on your side.

3 Ways to build momentum

1) Commit to taking the necessary action steps first. That’s what you really need to focus on. One of the things that can prevent us from reaching our goals is making only a very limited commitment to taking the actions that will get us there. Early on, action needs to be our main concern. Obviously, we want to keep our goal in sight, but the majority of our attention should go toward taking consistent and purposeful action. That’s how we build momentum!

2) Break the process down into baby steps. Taking small, consistent steps toward a goal is generally much more effective than large, sporadic actions. Plus, it’s easier to get ourselves to act on smaller tasks. Even tiny actions will eventually begin to build momentum and produce results, as long as we are consistent.  Making it your primary mission to move forward consistently will make it much easier to overcome obstacles because with each step your confidence will grow.

3) Don’t shift your focus toward results too early.  Many a goal has been abandoned because people take an action, wait to see what the results are, and quit when they don’t see the results they expected.  Don’t get so obsessed with results that you allow yourself to get discouraged.  In other words, focus only on keeping the ball rolling, even if you’re not seeing the results you want just yet. If you get discouraged and quit, you’re guaranteed not to see results. Focus on building momentum.

Use momentum to overcome procrastination

Taking action leaves procrastination in the dust. If you do something every day that moves you toward your goals, you’ll be too busy to think about making excuses. Dale Carnegie made this point nicely when he said:

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

You really can accomplish your dreams

Are you finally ready to achieve those important goals? You know the ones I mean, those goals that you know will transform the quality of your life. Maybe all you need is a proven plan and enough motivation to get the ball rolling and create some momentum.

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My all time favorite tool for accomplishing amazing goals and creating massive positive change is called the 100 Day Challenge. If you are ready to realize your dreams and goals, then you should read this article.

38 Comments

  1. Jean Sarauer August 20, 2010 Reply

    Hi Jonathon. Breaking things down into ridiculously small bits and then focusing on the process and not the outcome are the things that work out best for me. If I think of the big picture or the end result, I usually get into freakout mode, which always show up as procrastination/avoidance for me.

    • Jonathan August 20, 2010 Reply

      Hi Jean, isn’t it amazing what we can accomplish when we shift our focus. In reality every mountain is just a series of steps. Most of the time I kind of split my focus 80/20. the 80% goes on each action step, the 20% keeps track of the big picture. But very often that balance is weighted much more (100%) toward taking action.

  2. Jaky Astik August 20, 2010 Reply

    Anthony Robbins is so true. Once you set goals, start getting the momentum, once we’re running we’ll find the right path, there are lot of turns and chances and opportunities waiting up for us.

    There was time I procrastinated a lot, but then I began concentrating on working out with it and eventually, I found my flaws (everyone has different ones) and tried turning them around. It worked.

    For now, to me, reaching my goals is effortless and peaceful. I’m in alignment with universe just because I understood this simple law ‘start moving’.

    • Jonathan August 20, 2010 Reply

      Hi Jaky, I am reminded of Newton’s first law of motion which says in part that an object in motion tends to stay in motion.

  3. Sandra Hendricks August 20, 2010 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,

    Your blog is becoming one of my favorites. The advice you offer is practical. We get way too bogged down by I do, but I don’t thinking. The baby steps and the momentum works. Especially if we can listen more to what we want than what we want to avoid. We can hold ourselves back by trying to avoid the voids in our lives. We need to do our best not to avoid a void.

  4. Jonathan August 20, 2010 Reply

    Hi Sandra, I am so happy to be on your favorites list, thank you for saying that. I am a big fan of practical and uncomplicated. I have found that the majority of truly empowering and life changing strategies are actually pretty simple. Sometimes the hardest part is articulating them in a clear and understandable fashion.

  5. Nea August 20, 2010 Reply

    I really like this. I’m all for getting the ball rolling–and keeping it rolling. Of course there have been times where the perfectionist in me led to far more hesitation than action, but everyday is a new day. Thanks for the great post!

    • Jonathan August 20, 2010 Reply

      So, another person afflicted with chronic perfectionism hey Nea. I go through the same thing. I’ve been trying to practice the Ready, Fire, Aim approach to counteract that tendency. It works when I can stick to it. That’s how I got my newsletter up in 7 days. Thanks for being here!

  6. Sandra Lee August 20, 2010 Reply

    Oh Jonathan, I am a big procrastinator when it comes to anything physical! I’m not good with physical things, even simple things like getting gas. But putting them off just creates a constant drain. So lately, I’m just deciding to do them without thinking about it and it works. Like you’re #1, just focusing on the action.

    • Jonathan August 22, 2010 Reply

      Hi Sandra, it’s odd how we avoid some things and rush toward others, don’t you think. All these little anchors and triggers subtlety influencing our actions without any conscious awareness. Human behavior is so fascinating.

  7. Zeenat August 20, 2010 Reply

    HI Jonathan,
    Oh my…i might be a closet procrastinator :)
    But seriously…The points you have mentioned are so perfect. Especially #3 cause I often do that…think of the result more than the road that leads to it. Of-lately I have started focusing on the glorious “positive” result instead of a nasty outcome. That has helped me to gain momentum towards my goal, all the while focusing on the positive. I always think of the big beautiful picture….somehow it automatically makes the road leading to that glorious picture easier and faster.

    • Jonathan August 22, 2010 Reply

      Hi Zeenat, there is a lot of attraction that emanates from visualizing our intended results and that’s not something we should ever ignore. But we do need to validate it with action if we want to move it from imagination to realization. This is one of those areas where balance is vital.

  8. Stephen August 21, 2010 Reply

    Hi Jonathan, I’m definitely a procrastinator. And I believe that establishing momentum is a powerful force against it.

    I like to take a step that is so small I can practically fall forward and complete it. Sometimes I will commit to work on something for only 15 minutes, and then once I get going momentum will carry me forward far beyond that.

    The key point is baby steps. You can always break anything into small enough steps that any step can be completed effortlessly.

    Nice job!

    • Jonathan August 22, 2010 Reply

      Hi Stephen, your 15 minute commitment is a perfect example of getting the ball rolling. Many times resistance will move aside with the smallest commitment. The is power in small beginnings.

  9. Dia August 21, 2010 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,

    I think breaking the process into small steps and believing that we will get there one day is the way to go at it. I love the 3 steps you give. Thanks for sharing

    • Jonathan August 22, 2010 Reply

      Hey Dia, the 3rd step helps us learn to enjoy the journey. Most of life is spent somewhere in the journey between goals. We really important that we learn to enjoy it.

  10. Robin Easton August 22, 2010 Reply

    Hi Dear Jonathan,

    I’ve learned one thing that seems to really help me get “the momentum” started, and that is to NOT think about what I have to do. Just physically stand up, move, take action and DO it. But do NOT think. Nope, turn off the thoughts. LOL!!

    I know that may sound simple, but I have found it is the “thinking” about it that drags me waaaay down. The “thought” of it will stop me. But once I am in motion, as you say, “momentum”, I am fine. But if I sit there “thinking” about what I have to do, it will often stop me. And it does, both figuratively and physically….because I am sitting there THINKING about it, instead of doing it. So I tend to just say to myself, “Nope, you are not going to think about it at all, just stand up, walk to your desk, or out the door, or to the kitchen sink, or, or, or. Even if I just say, “Just stand up.” LOL!! Okay move one foot, okay now the other…etc. LOLOL!! :)

    As you know, momentum requires motion! :)

    Thank you dear friend, I enjoyed this. It was a REALLY good reminder for me.

    Hugs,
    Robin

    PS: Say hi to that gloriously gorgeous wife of yours.

    • Jonathan August 23, 2010 Reply

      Hi Robin, isn’t it funny how the same process (thinking) that figures out what we want or need to do, is also capable of preventing us from doing it?

      I had a friend who would spend so much time trying to figure out the absolute best way to do everything that he never actually did much of anything. In a case like that, planning can easily become an avoidance technique. It’s the old “wishing and hoping and planning and dreaming” syndrome (anyone remember that song?).

      We can always adjust the way we take action once we are doing something. I totally agree that over analyzing can be paralyzing. I find this to be something that applies to public speaking also. It’s those last 10 minutes before you get on stage that will get you if you start agonizing over what you are about to do. I have learned to change my focus to the audience before I get up to speak (instead of thinking about what “I” need to do). The less I think about it, the more relaxed I am and the more fun I have.

      PS. Your book is extraordinary beyond words!

  11. Steven Aitchison August 22, 2010 Reply

    Hey Jonathan. I definitely had this problem in the past, I would think way too much about something I had my mind set on and sometimes even talk myself out of doing it altogether. So I totally get your three steps, I always focused on the outcome.

    Now it’s a case of getting an idea, thinking about it for a short while, trust my instinct and just start doing it. If it doesn’t work, move on to the next project as quickly as possible.

    Great article Jonathan.

    • Jonathan August 23, 2010 Reply

      Greetings Steve, thank you for pointing out the role of trusting your instinct (intuition, gut feeling, etc.). When we intuitively know something our analytical mind will generally try to argue with that instinctive knowledge. This is a situation where we can easily think ourselves inaction. I am a firm believer in trusting our instinct. In fact, I have pulled the plug on projects that seemed perfectly viable but just didn’t feel right.

  12. diana August 23, 2010 Reply

    Procrastination can also lead to brain fog and anxiety as unfinished tasks pile up. Jumping in, organizing, and getting started is half of it, and the other is finishing tasks – it’s a feeling of accomplishment that chases worries away.

    What helps me to keep going is simply to NOT over think things. I tend to over process information, so for me, I pull that back and say, ah come on, just get moving. And I always feel better when I shift my mental place to active rather than thinking/becoming passive in the thought.

    Nike is right. Just do it.

    • Jonathan August 23, 2010 Reply

      Several excellent points in your comment Diana. Organizing is a real nice step in between thinking and acting. It’s like a warm up phase. I think this could be a key place for many people to start moving as long as it doesn’t get over analyzed that is.

  13. Frank August 23, 2010 Reply

    When you look up procrastination in the dictionary it has my picture right next to it. :-) I usually procrastinate when dealing with an issue that I may perceive as being difficult. There is just something about putting things off to the very last minute that gives you an adreniline rush or a heart attack. I like to live on the edge. I know that by breaking things down into smaller easier to accomplish goals will help me deal with this issue.

    • Jonathan August 23, 2010 Reply

      Hey Frank, I always wondered whose picture that was :) I must admit to using “last minute pressure” to catapult myself into action also. I sorta operate on the “whatever is most pressing comes next” principle. This is not because I procrastinate but simply because there is always so much going on.

  14. Rob October 23, 2010 Reply

    My tips are:

    1. Pause: Avoid focusing on only the urgent, think about the important too. To do this requires a few minutes of quiet reflection to form at least an outline of a plan. This may seem like you’re wasting time but in fact some up front planning will mean less problems in the long run.
    2. Just do it: Once you have a plan in place don’t procrastinate. One of the main causes of procrastination is perfectionism, a tendency to negatively evaluate outcomes and one’s own performance. Don’t worry about making a mistake, just do the next action!
    3. Understand your natural cycles: Just as nature is governed by cycles, so is the human body. Most people are generally aware of the 24-hour cycles of sleeping and waking that are the major components of our circadian rhythm (circa dies means “around a day”). Less commonly known, however, are the body’s ultradian rhythms (ultra dies means “many times a day”) that occur in cycles throughout each day. Eye blinks, heart rate, hormone regulation, thermal regulation, breathing … the list is almost endless, and some of these activities help account for the energy cycles we feel throughout the day.
    4. Focus: The vast majority of people focus too much time and energy outside of their Circle of Influence, in their Circle of Concern. Such people typically worry about things they cannot control. Preoccupying yourself with issues like that is a huge waste of time and energy. Covey notes that highly effective people think and act primarily within their Circle of Influence. They forget about the things over which they have no control, preferring to focus their time and energy on issues where they can actually make a difference. By doing this, they gradually expand their Circle of Influence as they earn more power and respect.
    5. Let go. Nobody can achieve everything, so don’t try: delegate
    6. Say NO!
    7. Revive dead time. Stuck in traffic? Flight delayed? Transform productivity blackspots by keeping a list of ongoing projects with you at all times. It’s surprising what will rise Phoenix-like from the ashes.

  15. Anne January 3, 2013 Reply

    I agree with you, and especially with the last step. Too many times we quit before the results are evident. I always have to remind myself that results aren’t immediate. There’s a process, a journey. Each step is important because when we learn so much from the steps we take. The result is just the cheese on top.

  16. skillz May 7, 2014 Reply

    Great article Jonathan.

    In addition to three steps, I believe in also tracking baby steps towards achievement of the goal.

    Tracking brings awareness. When I miss steps, tracking helps me get back on track.

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