The Pursuit of Excellence Practical steps toward happiness

12Mar/121

The Momentum Principle

“An object in motion stays in motion” – Sir Isaac Newton (paraphrased… badly)

The other day I had a welcomed realization: this has been a strangely productive week.  Monday through Friday I made it to the gym, wrote thousands of words, made some great connections; even squeezed in a few guitar practice sessions.  If only I could make this a habit.

Pool balls in motion

Let's just ignore friction for now.

Well, why couldn’t I?  From whence comes such efficiency?  Good sleep? Hard work? Luck?

I’m sure it was a combination of things, but I give most of the credit to the momentum principle:  I got myself moving Monday morning, and never stopped.

Like a ship or a train, once something’s in motion, it’s easier to keep going.  Effective humans seem always to be moving.  For them, one success leads to another.

“What saves a man is to take a step.  Then another step.”  – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The opposite is also true.  If I step out of my positive routine even for a few days, I have a very hard time getting back in motion.

Losing momentum is discouraging.  My focus fades and I become unsure how to move toward my goals.  Sometimes I want to wash my hands of them entirely.  But there is a cure: to take a step, even when you don’t feel like it.

What about Bob?

Baby steps onto the elevator...

Do anything healthy. Go outside, have a walk, call a friend, cook.  Then take another step.  It’s amazing how easily something small can break the spell.

I was in a momentumless rut this morning.  But I took a step by going to the gym.  It did the trick, and I managed to salvage my day.

Sometimes the only cure for lack of motivation is rest.  Rest is important!  But there’s a difference between relaxing after a hard day, and running out of momentum.  You should be able to feel the difference, but if you can’t, ask yourself:

“Did I do something that brought me closer to my goals today?”  If you can answer yes, you’re already generating momentum.

Build on it.


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  1. An amazing article, thanks for the writing.


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