Ah, momentum. A crafty technique for stopping ourselves in our tracks.
I call it the Momentum Trap.
The voice of the Momentum Trap goes something like this:
“Oh God, when I was in my 20’s, I was in the best shape. I ran everyday. I had a regular weight lifting routine. Somewhere along the way, I lost my momentum.”
Unspoken Upshot: “…and so I’m pretty much not gonna get started again now because it’ll only remind me that I’m a failure.”
“Man, I was cranking on my writing a few weeks ago. I was so in the flow. I really need to get that momentum going again.”
Unspoken Upshot: “…so I won’t consider my writing time to be productive unless I am ‘in the flow.’ In fact, I need momentum in order to get enthusiastic about my work again.”
The truth about momentum is this:
Sometimes we got it. Sometimes we don’t.
Sometimes stuff happens that takes us away from habits that created our momentum. Kids get sick. Knees get wonky. Hard drives crash. You get swine flu.
Any number of things can create a loss of momentum.
But there’s one thing you can count on:
When we’re using “momentum” as an excuse, we can pretty much be certain that we’ve fallen into the Momentum Trap – which is just another snarky perfectionist voice that convinces us to stay exactly where we are mostly to avoid feeling uncomfortable again.
Well, guess what? You’re no longer allowed such luxuries.
(After all, you’ve made it this far down the page in these Twitter times. You must be a committed soul!)
One of the most valuable success skills you can develop is that of getting back up and starting again. So, if you want to get your groove back, here’s a 7-step process to help you re-commit to your goals, dreams, and priorities.
1 – Choose the activity.
This one’s easy. Don’t overdo it and go for everything in your life. Just pick one priority right now.
2 – Schedule a time.
Scheduling a time ensures that you don’t put the activity off because you don’t feel like it or because something comes up. It gets set in stone and becomes just what I do.
3 – Go for Small.
The Momentum Trap makes us set our sights huge in order to “pick up where we left off.” Don’t play this game. The best way to get your groove back is to experience completion on a regular basis. And the best way to experience completion on a regular basis is to set your goals small. Twenty-minutes is a perfect starting place.
4 – Create the space.
Get the space ready before the time comes. For instance, every night before I go to bed, I create the space for my 6am work out. I lay out my clothes, fill up my Sigg bottle, and charge my iPhone. I call it “creating the space.” Legendary basketball coach Dean Smith called it “putting yourself in a position to win.”
5 – Set a timer.
This is the most under-rated tool of them all!
When a timer is running, you won’t be as tempted to go downstairs to put the clothes in the dryer, or see if the mail has arrived. It’s an effective mind game that keeps your butt in the chair (or on the treadmill) and your focus on the task.
6 – Just do it.
Don’t stop to pause and wonder if you really FEEL like doing this today. Cuz you know what? You won’t! Just walk out the door, or sit down at the desk, or start going through the clutter. Taking action builds the enthusiasm. Not the other way around!
7 – Don’t skip days.
I know. I know. We’re supposed to get weekends off. But if you’re doing small enough chunks of time, then you’ll be able to continue your groove EVEN on the weekends. Taking a day or two off means having to start all over again on Monday. This is why you start with small chunks of time and small goals. That way, it won’t be hard to keep up your practice – even when you would normally want a day off!
**BONUS TIP** Build gradually, but keep your minimum baseline do-able.
“Minimum Baseline” is one of the techniques created by Brooke Castillo in her awesome book, If I’m So Smart, Why Can’t I Lose Weight? It is simply a minimum amount you decide that you will do (work-out, for example) each day. It is a commitment you make to yourself.
So, keep your minimum baseline small, but build your time gradually each week. For instance, add ten minutes to your scheduled time each week – while keeping the minimum baseline low in case you get swine flu and need to take it easy.