Make Friends with Momentum
An object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion…
—Sir Isaac Newton
Beginning something is the first step toward achieving anything. Envision trying to roll out of your cozy bed on a cold morning. Hitting the snooze button while wrapped in warm blankets is a dream come true, and the thought of crawling out of bed is a nightmare, but once you are on your feet for a few minutes, starting your day becomes easy (most mornings). One reason that waking up can seem daunting some mornings is that you have yet to build any momentum in your day (all your energy is still under those comfy covers). Once you understand the power of generating consistent momentum for your actions, your daily decisions will make your life a dream come true.
To build momentum, you must first start something. I mean really start something. For example, some suggest that saving money for a new car is impossible without saving that first dollar. This advice, although painfully obvious, is valuable because saving your first dollar gets you started, which is important. However, with only one single dollar saved, you could likely spend your savings with little care—it was merely a dollar collected for a car that costs thousands. Having no momentum in pursuit of your goals makes maintaining motivation and dedication difficult. Beginning something creates a beginner’s mindset, but manufacturing momentum establishes a master’s mindset. If you save your first $100 instead of one dollar, then, all of a sudden, your mindset changes. You begin to envision yourself behind the steering wheel of your new car. With $100 saved, you are much more than started. You are on your way. You develop a savings mindset where contributing money to your car fund becomes a priority. Your $100 saved quickly becomes $200, then $600, then $1,600, and then, before you know it, vroom! Momentum gets you cruising in life.
Many students struggle in school because they never capitalize on the power of momentum. In the worst instances, students don’t start anything, in which case there is little hope. In more common examples, however, students begin something, but their starts don’t amount to much. They have a beginner’s mindset. They pick up the pen but quickly put it down. They read the first chapter, then skip the next. They do a little bit of work here and put in minimal effort there. They go to school all week but stay home on Friday. They study for one test yet wing it on another. This “momentumless” lifestyle might be repeated for school years at a time! Many of these students have good intentions but never reap the benefits of momentum, thereby making achievement harder than it has to be.
Getting to a point where you benefit from momentum requires discipline and consistency. One of history’s greatest thinkers, Aristotle, said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” For instance, studying for one test is good, but having the self-discipline to study for a few tests in a row makes studying a habit. Test preparation then becomes a natural behavior, and you learn more and perform better. Mastering one chord on a guitar is gratifying, but if you can master three chords through consistent practice, you are suddenly the life of the party. You will become eager to learn more chords and songs. Eating healthy and exercising for one day is smart, but keeping it up for two months will boost your energy and have you feeling awesome. Having the discipline to remain focused on your goals will create the consistent momentum needed to improve your productivity and results.
Use school to help you develop an unstoppable mindset that builds positive momentum. Whether it is in your class, in your band, with your sports team, or with your friends, commit to creating positive momentum in everything you do. Show up consistently. Work hard. Set SMART goals. Stay on track. And fight for results. Building positive momentum for yourself now will put you in motion for a life of success.
Note: Understand that momentum works both ways. It can accelerate your path to success or transport you to depths of despair. I have seen too many students gain such negative momentum that it transformed their lives in ways they would never have thought possible. Try to keep your momentum moving in a positive direction, but know that you will lose steam at times. Everyone does. When this happens, reflect, regroup, and refocus your priorities. Doing so will rebuild positive momentum. Generating momentum is easy when life is going well; it’s when life is tough that positive momentum is harder to create, but the benefits of creating it are greater too. Resilience + persistence = positive momentum.
Reflection and Self-Awareness Opportunity
1) Describe a time when you built positive momentum in your life.
2) How did consistency or discipline help you build your positive momentum?
3) Describe an area in your life where you have struggled to build momentum.
4) What could you do to create momentum in this area?