January 30

How do you regain momentum?

    The resistance will tell you to wait
    It’s the end of January. How are those lofty goals that you set at the beginning of the year going?

    Our culture is entirely too cynical about new goals. Every third article this month seems to cite the same statistics about 80% of New Year’s resolutions failing and the average fail time being two weeks into the New Year. (Where do these stats come from, anyway? Sometimes the more ubiquitous a stat, the more I question its validity. That’s for another post…)

    You may have noticed. I took an unprecedentedly long break from blogging, starting mid-December, and now it’s the end of January. The break was intentional, but I’d only meant to take two weeks off from my usual weekly blogging. Getting back into writing was like trying to walk through a bog, where the muck just clings to your legs. (Not that I’ve ever walked through a bog; it just looked hard on one episode of “Naked and Afraid.”) So, yes, I had a really difficult time regaining momentum, but now my goal of writing every day and blogging every week has come back, front and center.

    Is it okay to take a break from your goals?

    Let’s just be honest that it’s nearly impossible to do something every day. I’d suggest that the people who can do something every day, 365 days a year, every year, are extremely rare. Most of us say we’ll do something every day, just hoping that we do it most days.

    Yes, there are definitely times in life when a break is a good thing. I gave myself a break because we’ve recently had our third baby, we were out of town for the holidays, and we’ve moved. All pretty legitimate reasons for a break, right? You shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a break when life really does turn upside-down. Give yourself a little grace.

    The trick is coming back from your break.

    But you know when you've hit that routine, the one where things aren't quite as crazy, but you're still telling yourself that you're too tired/busy/stressed/overworked. Whatever your reason for taking a break from your goals, there’s a lot of resistance to coming back into your habit. Every day that you delay making progress toward your goal, even just a little progress, the more resistance builds up. How do you fight the resistance?

    Don’t wait for the “feeling” of motivation to reappear.
    You know how the internal dialogue goes. The alarm goes off in the morning, “I’m just too tired this morning. I don’t feel like getting up to write/jog/meditate. I should wait till tomorrow, so I’ll have more energy.” After you’ve lost momentum, you’re not going to feel like making progress again.
    The resistance will tell you to wait till tomorrow. Don’t wait. Look resistance in the eye, and say, “No, we start today.”

    The feeling will follow the action.
    It’s amazing, and it works every time. After you take that first step again toward your goal, the invigorating feeling of progress will leap back up to the surface. Grab hold of that feeling. Revel in it, be grateful for it, and try to hold it in your memory for tomorrow.

    Visualize your success.
    You’ve taken that first step, you’ve had that effervescent motivation bubble up again, now use that energy to visualize achieving your goal. Visualization is what separates the flakes from the achievers. The elites in sports, music, and business all use visualization techniques.

    Imagine achieving your goal – writing that book, having that popular blog, running that marathon, having that financial peace – and add in as many details as you can. Put yourself in the scene and allow yourself to feel the excitement. How amazing would it be to finally achieve that goal?

    The mind is so incredibly powerful. If you can imagine your success, your subconscious brain will start working at getting you there.

    But be grateful for where you are.
    Don’t let your excitement for achieving your goals make you feel miserable about where you are now. Take a minute to be grateful and content with your life now, and the progress you’ve already made. If you beat yourself up, you’ll squash whatever motivation you’ve just been building. You get more of what you’re grateful for.

    Mentally prep for tomorrow’s resistance.
    The resistance never really goes away. You just have to learn how to fight it, and half the battle is being ready to fight. If you know that feeling follows action, then do everything in your power to make sure you take another step toward your goal tomorrow. Even if it’s writing one sentence, jogging for five minutes, meditating for 30 seconds – even small steps help maintain momentum.

    That’s been my experience in regaining momentum. What’s yours? Leave a comment below, so we can all prep to fight the resistance tomorrow.


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