A Student of Momentum
The broad definition of Momentum is “The strength or force gained by motion or by a series of events”. I like to swap out (events) with (choices). I’ve been personally obsessed with making incremental changes to my behaviors and habits for a good chunk of my adult life. Time and plenty of trial and error have brought me to a conclusion; momentum and understanding how to sustain it is key to success in everything. Becoming a dedicated student of momentum is a lifelong discipline. In fact, the discipline itself is to continually try to improve on the discipline without falling off the horse. In the presence of failure, catastrophe, self-doubt, and change – one should learn to stay the course if the course continues to be in line with your goals and ideals.
The Momentum Aware Mindset
As humans, we think we make our choices in our consciousness in real-time. I’ve realized the decisions that I make are made from not only what comes to mind, but more importantly what mindset I am in. Think of a mindset as a group or organization of thoughts that can lead to preferably better choices. Nurturing and consistently adjusting this group of thoughts and beliefs should be your priority. Mindset is the software that you continue to access, use, and upgrade to improve the momentum of your development as a human.
The effects of this pandemic have injured and crippled our (Momentum Engines) in an assortment of ways. I woke up this morning with a rather heavy chip on my shoulder. I realized I’ve let myself slide out of my powerful “suit” of momentum and into my cozy and comfortable “pajamas” of indecision. My web design projects were off track and all our clients were in a rut. The necessary and unnecessary seclusion, comfort food, uncertainty, political chaos, closed facilities, and limited liberties have been enough to throw many of us off track. It seemed like the best time to start assessing the damage and begin designing a blueprint dedicated to a vigorous self-reboot! Writing this blog post is my promise to make this reboot a successful one. I hope a few of my readers find this post to be a spark that could mature into their own (Momentum Engine) reboot. This brings me to step one of what I believe to be the match that gets the engine going again.
The Promise to Yourself
The promise is just the segue into what I like to think is a self-induced baptism. A cleansing if you will. I know I am sounding a bit abstract here but stay with me. Getting your momentum going again should not be taken lightly. You want to get yourself stoked, excited, and even ecstatic about this launch. The launch like a trip to Mars is one where you are not planning on coming back any time soon. Your choices from here on out will be fresh and present but connected to a perspective dedicated to making progress.
This post is starting to sound like a self-help manifesto, but I am all about getting this out there. What I am trying to say is, try to make a real promise to yourself, one that can survive through the first, second, and third rounds of discouragements. The thing about gaining momentum is the start or restart is the hardest part. In my experience, you and you only can make this decision.
Heads up! Most people around you are not going to want to join you in this quest. Your friends and family might be comfortable with where they are, and this is OK. Your personal momentum is yours and yours alone. Trying to drag someone along with you will almost surely fail. Do not confuse this with company, agency, and team momentum that is a separate subject. Take your launch seriously and get ready to fight your internal voice of indecision with grace.
Tweak Your Routines
I understand that the scope of categories and areas you might like to make headway on can be overwhelming to think about. There are so many things we all want to improve on, so many things we want to accomplish. Routines are the organized assortment of things you engage in that aid in helping you make personal progress across all areas of your life.
Everywhere you go online that covers self-improvement you will find they are always talking about the importance of the (Morning routine) and how it can make or break the day. I completely agree with all the seasoned professionals on this. Your morning dictates how the rest of your day is going to flow. Over time it will become your most sacred friend. Your confidence and motivation get all your perseverance from your morning. I am always rethinking and tweaking my routine especially my morning ones. Do not worry so much about getting things airtight. Start simple and then fill in the blanks over time. Some things may work while others will not. Remember gaining momentum is not a constant and it may take some time to see results from your tweaks. Depending on the day, week, month, and even year routine needs to be tested, altered, and modified then tested again.
Since I work primarily from home when the pandemic hit my daily routines all needed to be re-calibrated to adjust to all the new distractions, duties, and roadblocks that came with it. I had a daughter who was now going to school online and my wife being a teacher had her responsibilities doubled overnight. So shopping, meals, and keeping the kitchen + household together had to be included in my schedule. It was a major shock to the system that I had made so much progress devising. For example, I had to start doubling stuff up to stay on top of things. Doubling things up typically does not go smooth off the bat but try to turn it into more of a challenge rather than an overload. With some focus, new tasks will start to merge with each other. Remember it is not multi-tasking it is just the introduction of new hurdles into your timeline.
Prep for tomorrow and momentum will flourish
Prepping is a powerful tool and motivation stimulant to use in the toolbox. Before I go to bed, for example, I spend 15-20 minutes preparing for tomorrow. I get my gym bag packed, clothing together, and spend a few minutes assembling a mind-map related to what I have on my to-do list. If I have an on-location meeting, video shoot, or appointment pre-loading and bookmaking directions including contacts and notes will encourage a smoother day. Getting prepared and organized for the tasks and objectives of tomorrow can help a lot with avoiding procrastination. Your organization and formation will be the oil keeping your momentum engine purring.
Your second wind is not a myth
Everyone has heard the term “dig down deep and find you’re (Second Wind) and you will get through this!”. This typically means when you are exhausted, tired, fed up, and just feeling like you are out of gas there just happens to be another tank hidden deep in yourself that can be tapped into. Friends, your second wind is not just an occasional option that only exists in desperation. Your second wind is just a misunderstood resource that you can access whenever you need it. The mythical “second wind” can offer the ability to take all our old limits to new levels, re-imagine your abilities and encourage momentum and breakthroughs!
So how do we get real control of this resource? What is the exercise and strategy that will reward us with willful access to this tool? You can call make up your own name for it but I call it (Walking through the fire). Walking through the fire for me is the short introduction to painful and uncomfortable action that only needs to be tolerated until access has been granted and discomfort subsides. Examples of how these work are everywhere. Have you ever dove into a freezing cold pool and then stay in it long enough to where it just starts to feel refreshing and fun? or been introduced to a bunch of people you don’t know out of your element just to find yourself breaking the ice, engaging and making new friends? I believe it is these short-lived uncomfortable obstructions that can be nothing more than physical manifestations that hide what exists just beyond the pain. By showing yourself that walking through the fire generally leads to fruitful results and just more self-assurance the reason for sacrifice becomes clear. Understanding in practice this basic principle is the game-changer.
"Cage the monkey mind"
A term used by Author Tim Ferriss that shows up in many of his blog posts. It typically relates to starting to learn how to understand how to recognize when you are breaking focus and how to start the process of bringing yourself back to it. When you have a task and monitor yourself enough you can start identifying the patterns and bad habits you use against yourself to move to distraction. Our minds are primitive and 80% of the time they are working against us. Slowly building a habit to help you recognize when you are pulling yourself from focus is the first step. Then with close attention, you can begin to work on getting the volume on these distractions turned down.
I could never get anything done of real value if I had a meeting or a scheduled task approaching. Using the shorter available time between was always difficult for me because I was perceiving time the wrong way. As an excuse, my mind would try to put me on another less involved task like doing the dishes or blowing the leaves off the driveway. It became apparent that the more automated less involved tasks were my escape from doing what I need to be doing. It is quite fascinating clever our unconscious can be. Distracting me from the important tasks was its way of making me feel like I was at least accomplishing something. However, when my prioritized list of important tasks started to build up from this my stress level started to get unmanageable. Like a grad student that had put off his midterm for months, I started to freak out while desperately hitting the list last-minute ending up producing little value. I started executing on this by devoting a specific amount of time to each priority by not allowing myself to do anything else but what I assigned to that time. Believe me, it was difficult at first and even the work I was focusing on was not at its best but with some time I could feel myself starting to make some headway. Keep pulling yourself back when there is an internal distraction and stay the course. I think you will soon realize your external distractions are mostly excuses to break your focus than issues with your environment.
The Quest to Becoming the best version of yourself
If you close your eyes and really think about it what do you see when you think of what the best version of yourself would look like? Successful, more money, stronger what? This question still puzzles me because it should! In a momentum-based state of living your perceptions and options are always changing. Joe Rogan says to “Think of yourself like you are the protagonist in your own movie.” You are calling the shots and being observed by an audience made up of the people you care about. I like the idea and it holds some value, but I think there is more discovery involved with this pursuit. Your values will change with your momentum as you will change with time. So, in my quest, I look forward to the next sign, the next example that is closer to who I want to become. Who and what you allow to influence you is not always your choice, right? Positive and negative influences can be absorbed by others, sometimes without you even knowing about them. I like to look at it as swinging like Tarzan through the jungle of your life carefully selecting the vines and limbs you choose to transition with to encourage your momentum. Maybe it is good to stick to a day as your unit of measurement to push off from. What can I do better today? How can I take on more responsibility with courage in the next 24 hours? These are the types of questions we should be asking our self’s every morning!
Sam Harris, a now quite influential writer, neuroscientist, and intellectual speaker has a podcast called (Making Sense) that is so refreshing and unique among all the noise. Sam’s quest for solid truth, his demeanor, and approach to questioning reality, consciousness, and its continence has been a game-changer for me. I needed an external influence at the time and when I found one that had core values that were in parallel with my own it was almost a relief. Concerned that I was just laying down my own track as I moved along vanished and I was able to have a source to relate to. Having people, you look up to or admire for their persona and ideals can indeed be helpful sources in helping you design the best version of yourself. Remember though you are only borrowing from influence to become a better you.
Do not get Stuck and Stay on Track
Where you are now should not matter. Forget focusing on the height of the mountain and journey ahead you do not see the end of. Remember you just have to “Walk Through The Fire”. It is a duty to yourself it’s not a conquest but a new way of living. Be bold, try new things large and small every day. Break the mold and remind yourself that with each stoic endeavor you will start to understand and gain momentum.