One of the most powerful, yet underestimated steps to making your goals reality is this: building momentum.
Here’s the truth. We tend to think about momentum in the abstract.
We talk about projects “gaining momentum” and things “picking up speed.”
But when it comes time to digging in and committing to steady progress and growth, our brain starts questioning the process.
Shouldn’t this go faster?
Why haven’t I reached my goal yet?
Surely, I should be “there” by now.
If so, then episode 102 of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast has your name on it.
We talk about why we struggle with establishing momentum.
We explore four powerful ways momentum helps us reach our goals.
And you’ll learn how to identify the areas in your life that would benefit from a boost in momentum so you can start seeing the process you want in your life.
If you’re ready to get the ball rolling, check out episode 102 below or stream it on your favorite podcasting app here:
Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling for the entire podcast transcript.
Listen To The Podcast Here!
In This Episode, You Will Discover…
- Why we struggle with establishing momentum
- Four powerful ways momentum helps us reach our goals
- How to identify the areas in your life that would benefit from a boost in momentum
Links From The Podcast
- Sign up for your free consultation with me here
- Get the top 10 tips to work with your ADHD brain (free ebook!)
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Episode #102: 4 Powerful Ways Momentum Helps You Reach Your Goals (Transcript)
Hey everybody. Welcome to episode 102 of the podcast. Thanks for tuning in today. How is your July looking? For those of you in the United States, I hope you had a lovely 4th of July. And for everyone, how on Earth are we talking about July already? We are officially halfway through 2021.
A couple of weeks ago now, I taught a training. And it was all about reigniting your commitment to the goal you set for yourself at the beginning of the year. And we talked all about how to dig in and rediscover our excitement. How can we get the ball rolling and start seeing that progress that we want? And as I prepared for that training. And as I thought about my progress toward my goals this past month, I kept returning to the concept of momentum.
Now momentum isn’t something that I think about in particular very often unless I slow down and intentionally reflect on it. But it’s such a powerful thing. And in fact, the idea of momentum has been coming up a lot with my clients recently, too. We’ve been playing around with this approach to setting and reaching our long-term goals. We’ve been finding ways to set small habits and regular routines that create this steady growth. And that makes this snowball effect where one relatively consistent behavior builds on and contributes to the next.
And that’s what I want to talk about today. We’re going to explore the concept of momentum. And I’m hoping to sell you a little bit on the idea of momentum. Because what I’ve found is this. On the surface, building momentum sounds great. But when it’s time to take action, and we realize that it takes a little bit of time, our brain decides this doesn’t sound quite as fun. We want a quick win, not a slow build.
So today, I want to sell you on this idea of momentum. And we’re going to explore how establishing momentum in different areas of your life is one of the most powerful secrets to keep us moving forward toward our goals. Then, we will identify the areas in your life where you can start exercising this power of momentum for yourself.
When you look up the definition of momentum, you’ll see it described in a handful of different ways. The actual physics concept in terms of the motion of a moving body is measured as a product of its mass and velocity. But we’re not going to get that technical. The way that I want to think about momentum today is through the definition “the driving force gained by the development of a process or course of events.”
We’ve often heard of things gaining momentum. In terms of objects, a car can gain momentum rolling downhill. But we’ve also experienced gaining momentum when we’ve locked in a process or built up a habit that starts generating results for us. It’s that driving force that keeps pushing forward.
And when we think about momentum regarding our goals and our habits, and our day-to-day progress, it sounds great at first. Who doesn’t want to have that driving force behind us as we move toward our goals? But once the reality of establishing that momentum sets in, we start questioning whether we are willing to put in the work. Because building momentum often challenges our human desire for instant gratification.
Momentum often has a slow build at first. You have to start from zero and grow from there. And that early growth can seem like it takes forever. Our human brains are constantly thinking things like, “This should go faster. I should be further along by now. Everyone else is making so much more progress than I am. I must be doing something wrong.”
And this is because our human brains want instant success. We want the quick win and the instant gratification. And there’s nothing wrong with that. If you do desire this “instant success,” this simply means your brain works. It wants the quick win.
The challenge is when we start telling ourselves that things should be happening faster to gain this momentum. Because in reality, the opposite is true. It’s the steady growth and progress that leads to our lasting success. And I want to talk about how this unfolds in four different ways today.
Momentum, Sustainability, and Burnout
One of the main reasons momentum leads to lasting success is that it’s so much more sustainable. So often when we start a goal or are working toward new habits. Or when we’re approaching a new strategy or system. We tell ourselves that we have to do everything all at once. We try to get everything locked in perfectly, right away. And we want to go all-in on every single goal, idea, and project at once.
And because we do this to ourselves — because we often push ourselves past our limits — it’s easy to slip into burnout. We try to keep all of the plates spinning. We don’t rest as much as our mind and body need. And we run ourselves ragged. Needless to say, when you do this over and over, it’s hard to maintain that momentum. It’s hard to stay relatively consistent and keep that persistence even when things go wrong. Even when things get challenging.
But when we make space to build momentum. When we give ourselves enough time to create steady, measured growth. That’s when it becomes sustainable. That’s when we can avoid burnout while also seeing steady progress.
Sticking to Your Schedule
For example, let’s think about sticking with your calendar. Let’s say that you have never really stuck to your schedule in the past. Or you’ve always worked from a long to-do list, but you’ve never scheduled things out into your calendar or used time blocking. If you decide to go all-in from 0 to 60 in one day. If you choose to schedule everything out so that every moment is perfectly scheduled with zero overflow time. And if there is zero breathing room for any of the unpredictable things that inevitably come up. It’s very easy for your brain to give up.
Because when you don’t stick to the schedule or you end up taking longer to complete a task, and it’s time to move to the next project, and you haven’t finished the first, your well-practiced brain will probably want to tell you something like: “What’s the point of even doing this? I can never stick to a calendar. The schedule is impossible. I’m terrible with my time.” And so you immediately feel discouraged, and you go back to what’s familiar. You return to your old routine. And you quit before you give your brain a chance to develop new neural pathways and learn how to follow through on this new skill set.
On the other hand, if you started more slowly and gave yourself a longer on-ramp to establish the momentum, things might unfold differently. I think of it like a car trying to accelerate onto the Interstate. If you drive on a really short on-ramp, the car probably has to work a lot harder – and in fact, it might struggle to get up to speed in time. But if you give it a longer lead time, it’s much easier to reach that top cruising speed comfortably. The same is true with your habits and goals.
This is one of the things that I work on with my clients who want to learn how to honor their calendars more consistently. We start with a one or two-hour block that they commit to each day no matter what. They are willing to follow that block of time even when they don’t want to. Even when their brain says something else is more important. They’re committed to sticking to that hour or two hours of scheduled time no matter what. Everything else can be more fluid. In fact, they can stick to their old routine for the rest of the day if they want to. But those two hours are set in stone.
Once they have that block of time locked in with minimal effort. Once they’re regularly showing up for themselves in that area, that’s when we can build on the momentum. That’s when we can add in the next block of time. So by relying on momentum rather than banking on instant success, you support yourself in creating sustainability for your new habit or in the progress toward your goal.
Momentum and Making Things Easy
Building on this concept, momentum is also key because it eventually helps you complete your tasks and projects with greater ease. It allows you to — again eventually – make more things happen with less struggle. Because once you have the momentum behind you, it’s pushing you along. And this makes it quite a bit easier to take on another project or begin working toward a different goal because you’ve locked in the habits or the responsibilities of the current project already. You’ve basically automated the original piece of the system, and now you’re ready to add on the next component or the next element. And it’s so much easier to do this when you go one step at a time and build on the momentum.
So with the scheduling example that we just talked about, when a client consistently sticks with the two-hour time block in their calendar, it’s a lot easier to add another one-hour or 2-hour block because the brain is already more comfortable with honoring the schedule. It’s much easier to build on what you already have because you created traction. You already have that momentum pushing you forward, and now you get to add to that.
Momentum and Health Habits
The same is true for any kind of wellness goal or health habits. For example, I have a client who is working on strengthening her focus and her attention, and there’s a lot of fascinating research out there right now in regard to the positive impact of physical activity as well as some nutritional shifts. And while it is tempting to tackle everything at once, my client is taking it slow and building her momentum.
She started by incorporating a brisk 15 to 20-minute walk once a day during her lunch break. Once she had that locked in, she decided to add another session in the morning before she started work. As she began noticing the increase in her Focus following her exercise, and her body got more comfortable with moving more often, she started turning her early morning walk into a jog. Once she had that momentum going and was feeling good about her movement, she started expanding to her diet and slowly cutting out sugar. She started with initially cutting out extra sweets and desserts. Then she moved to reduce food with added sugars, and she continued building from there.
And all the while, she is building her momentum. With each new small habit or shift, she adds an additional push — an additional drive — that keeps her moving forward toward her overarching goal of increasing her focus and attention. Now, if she were to go all-in at once. If she were to completely overhaul her exercise plan and her diet and go from 0 to 60 without that long on-ramp, it would have likely been more difficult for her to maintain these behavior shifts. But by going slowly and allowing the momentum to build. By allowing her brain to establish the neural pathways and lock in the habit, she makes it easier to continue furthering her goal in a sustainable way.
Momentum and Reduce Decision Fatigue
And that leads me to the third reason why building momentum and relying on momentum is such a powerful way to reach your bigger goals. And this is through a reduction in decision fatigue. One of the main reasons why we struggle to stick with our goals and follow through on our plans is the remarkable amount of decisions we have to make each day.
When you slowly build up that momentum and lock in your regular behaviors and habits so that they become more or less automatic, that frees up so much more brain space for you to think about other things. As you experience steady growth toward your end goal, or you consistently strengthen that new habit, you build momentum. And as the momentum grows, you have to think about it less and less. There’s less on your mind. Less to consider. Less to worry about because those behaviors are now automatic. And that opens up so much space for you to think about other things that you’re really excited about. You open up to other things that you can’t wait to get started doing. And that is super exciting.
Momentum and Morning Routines
I think about this with my own morning routine. When I started following my routine, it began with just sticking to my workout each day. That was it. After that, it would vary. I might get ready. I might have breakfast. And maybe I’d start working right away. There was no rhyme or reason following that initial step of the morning routine. But I didn’t use that as a reason to beat myself up. Instead, I simply focused on following through on the first step. Once that was locked in, then I built on it.
So from working out, then I chose to get ready. So I built the momentum of working out and used it to lead me into getting ready. That way, I felt fresh and prepared for the day. Once I had that pairing locked in, I built up the momentum further by adding on breakfast, which I might otherwise entirely skip and just sit down and start working. So I went from strictly working out to workout – get ready – make breakfast. Once that momentum was behind me, I added in my self-coaching and journaling, which I do as I have my breakfast and drink my coffee in the morning. And then I start working.
So it was a slow build of momentum, but as I locked that in, I started reducing my number of decisions. I believe we talked about the concept of habit stacking in episode 99, and that’s exactly what this is. Because I knew that one behavior followed the next, I didn’t have to think about when I would work out, when am I going to get ready, when I am going to eat, when am I going to do myself coaching. I didn’t have to worry about any of that because I locked it in with the power of momentum and built a useful morning routine that serves me. And now that momentum pushes me into my entire day because I’m setting myself up for success to approach that day ahead.
Get Back On Track Easier
And with all of these different situations, the final benefit of building momentum is that on the days when you might not stick with the routine, or you might stumble in your momentum forward, it’s so much easier to get right back on track. When you have that momentum pushing you forward, a stumbling block doesn’t throw you off. You just slow down a little bit. You drive around the roadblock. And you get right back on the road to keep moving forward.
Now, here’s the deal. Building momentum can feel like work. It likely will feel like work. But once you are moving along and you have the momentum established, you’ve reached cruising speed, which is much less effort to maintain. Again, it’s just like when you are accelerating onto the interstate. During that initial push, your car is working. The engine is working a bit harder to get you building that momentum and picking up speed. But once you reach your desired speed, then you just keep cruising. You keep moving forward. And while you may get off at a rest stop or a gas station to fuel up, you get right back on again. It’s not a problem. Because you know that interstate, you know you can keep cruising forward.
Where Can You Use Momentum In Your Life?
This week I invite you to think about the goals that you set for yourself this year. If you were on my reignite your 2021 goals training in June, you probably have these goals front and center of mind. If not, no problem. Think back to what your goals were at the beginning of the year. And if you didn’t have any goals, that’s not a problem either. Think of what you want to do now. Where do you want to be six months from now? Where do you want to be at the end of 2021?
Once you have that in mind, ask yourself – what is my expectation for these goals? Am I expecting 0 to 60 in two days? Or am I open to giving myself a longer on-ramp? Am I willing to give myself the space to allow the momentum to build?
And if so, then start exploring this last question: how can momentum serve me in these areas? What are small ways that I could start building the momentum toward my success? Where can I start today to get me moving forward and build my momentum to foster sustainable growth?
I encourage you to think about these different areas in your life this week. Think about what you want to achieve and how momentum can serve you in making that happen. Where can you reduce decisions? How can you make it easy? When you answer these questions and open up t the possibility, I think you’ll be quite pleased with the answers you find
All right my friends. That’s going to do it for us this week. And if you know someone who would love to start building their momentum, would you be a rockstar and share this episode with them?
Also, if you’re a fellow ADHDer or have ADHD tendencies be sure to grab my free ebook called 10 Tips to Work With Your ADHD Brain. It has tangible, actionable strategies that you can implement immediately to help you get organized, reduce your overwhelm, reclaim your time, and start getting things done. To get your copy, you can check out today’s show notes.