So, you want to change your life. It's time to start something new. You're inspired, you're motivated but as soon as the time comes to really smash those goals, it's gone. Suddenly your old habits click back into place and nothing ever changes. Can you relate? I certainly can. But what if motivation was never the issue... what if momentum is? Read more as I uncover the one life lesson you need to know to finally accomplish all those goals! Trust me, you'll want to.
Do you remember the days when we would go to school at 8am, complete all our classes, have sports practice after school, then get home and have homework, and fall asleep only to do it all over again tomorrow?
As a university student, I often question how the hell I ever had the energy, let alone the motivation to get so much more done each day. These days, I’m lucky if I can get out of bed early, I certainly don’t complete as much work as I used to, and I wouldn’t dream of having the energy to do as much physical activity throughout my day.
Where did it all go wrong? Why is it now so hard to start those new routines again? And where did all my motivation go?
Then I realised, a lack of motivation was never the issue. A lack of MOMENTUM is.
Motivation is like that spark we feel in our chest, that energy to start something new, to make a change. It gets us up on our feet and imaging a new way of doing things.
But unfortunately, motivation doesn’t tend to stick around. Motivation fades, the ease of our old habits slip back in and all of a sudden nothing has changed.
Motivation requires ACTION. We must take action to continue beyond the starting point. This initial action may involve scheduling time aside to complete our goals, signing up for a new gym membership so we exercise more, or simply setting up the document for that essay you’re supposed to write.
Once we complete that small actionable task, we begin to gain momentum. Writing the first paragraph is easier once you’ve set up the document, heading to the gym is easier if you’ve already booked yourself into a group class, and it’s certainly easier to dedicate ourselves to our goals when we’ve specifically set time aside for them.
Momentum is powerful and reliable. Momentum says, ‘just do it anyway’ when motivation is keen to have the day in bed.
Momentum gets us to the point where taking action is easier than letting all our progress so far go to waste.
Think about it: Newton’s Laws of Motion state that a body that is still (through inertia) will stay still. Yet a body in motion will tend to stay in motion.
By having some achievement and progress already under your belt, the next step seems so much more manageable. Soon, routine kicks in and you’re waking up early without feeling as groggy or you’re already halfway through writing the essay.
Motivation is your ‘why’, while Momentum is your ‘how’.
By just relying on motivation to get us to the finish line we’re often going to end up right back where we started. Yet but combining our motivation with small and actionable steps that enable us to start each goal off with a win, we’re able to gradually gain the momentum which keeps us going - even when motivation is lacking.
Here’s an example, say you want to run 5kms but you haven’t gone for a run in a while.
The night before, you’re hyping yourself up for your first run in the morning. You’ve got the energy - you’re determined it’s going to go great.
Then you wake up, and it’s freezing outside. Your gym clothes are still in the wash, all of a sudden it just seems like too much effort. Your motivation is gone, and so is your goal.
BUT, what if as soon as we set that new goal we immediately took action? What if we organised our gym gear the night before and had it out ready, what if we organised to meet a friend for a run in the morning so we couldn’t make any excuses?
All of a sudden when you woke up the next day, you’d be up and ready for your first run. The endorphins kick in, your friend is proud of you, you’re able to encourage each other too! The first week might be uncomfortable (but hey you did it!), but gradually you gain momentum.
Soon, getting up doesn’t feel like a chore anymore. You start getting faster at running, suddenly you can run a little further. And soon you’ve achieved so much that by skipping running you’d be wasting too much hard work. You’ve gained momentum.
How are you going to create ‘action’ towards your goals? How are you going to kickstart some momentum in your life?
Here are 3 key takeaways:
1. When you set a goal, take action immediately. Make space in your life to set time aside for your new goals, and start straight away. If you want to exercise more, go for a walk straight away or start with a short workout before bed. Put your clothes out for exercise the night before so you’re reducing the amount of energy required to maintain your small sense of momentum.
Top tip! Write out action plans for each of your goals. Check out our ‘goals’ printable here for an outline.
2. Celebrate ‘progress’ rather than ‘completion’. Gaining momentum is hard. It’s uncomfortable because we’re changing what our bodies are used to - we’re altering our realities. Celebrate those mini-milestones and reflect often on your achievements. Especially the times where you chose your new goal over your old habits.
3. Start small. Don’t overload yourself by trying to change your life all in one weekend. Trust me, I’ve tried it - and it never sticks. Start with one small habit that you’re most motivated to try. Gain momentum by riding off this initial motivation while taking small actionable steps to get yourself started. Then, as you get into the swing of things, you can layer more habits and changes into your life.
Have you been struggling with momentum lately? Let me know in the comment section - I know I certainly have!
From our home to yours,
Hi there! Thanks for checking out the Live Lively blog. I am so excited to share my passion for productivity, personal growth and wellbeing!