You have big goals but struggle to get the ball rolling. Or you get an idea and pour your heart and soul into it, only to quit at the first sign of failure. What sets apart the people who follow through from the ones who give up too soon? Momentum – one of the most powerful forces known to man. In this article I share my personal strategies to build and maintain momentum so you can finally follow through on your goals and experience the feeling of victory for yourself.
The first step to building momentum is preparation. Preparation is what sets apart the great from the average.
The highest-performing students generally study more. The most successful businesses have the best understanding of their market from hours of tedious research.
Besides a few rare exceptions, the best didn’t become the best by accident, luck or talent. The best become the best through preparation, hard work and consistency.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln
That quote is one of my favorites, because it illustrates the importance of preparation. Those who spend more time on preparation see disproportionate results in their favor.
If you’re willing to do more work upfront, you will have much less work in the long run.
The biggest benefit of preparation is that it helps you avoid early mistakes. Mistakes made early in any endeavor are motivation killers and dream destroyers.
Nothing builds confidence faster than a feeling of assuredness about what you are about to do take on. That assuredness comes from research. You want to avoid the feeling of not knowing what you’re doing.
How many times have you seen a business fail because they picked a bad location? How many times has a diet failed you because you picked a diet that you couldn’t stick to? Taking on a new goal can be very intimidating. That’s why you want to avoid early failures, because those happen when you are most vulnerable.
Early failures typically occur because of a lack of preparation. You should know the most basic hurdles you will have to jump before going into any new venture.
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
Build momentum slowly. We all want success and results now, I get it. This one is hard for me too, but it’s necessary.
Small steps are great momentum builders because they keep you motivated. Small steps allow you to make a habit of accomplishing goals. Habits define our lives so you want to have a habit of winning, not losing.
Short term goals are great for 2 primary reasons:
- You get results quickly
- You are able to focus intensely on one thing at a time
Multitasking doesn’t work. It’s a dying theory. The more effective approach is to focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking leaves us too scatterbrained. Multitasking leads to either producing a lot of mediocre results or to stalling due to being overwhelmed.
Short term goals allow you to master every task, one at a time. You don’t want to move on to the next task until the previous one is completed and completed thoroughly.
Not only are you building momentum through motivation, you are building momentum from the education and experience. The better you get at easier tasks, the better off you will be with more difficult tasks.
If you wanted to be a professional race car driver, you wouldn’t just jump into a Formula 1 race without any experience in slower cars first. There’s a good chance you would get in a wreck and be severely injured or even killed. You would want to start with slower, less complicated cars first.
Track Your Progress
One of the most effective tools to build momentum is to track your progress. If you are taking on one short term goal at a time, those eventually add up to a lot of progress. If you ever feel doubt start to creep into your mind, just take a look back at how far you’ve come.
When we want to accomplish something we always imagine these great results that come very quickly, but in reality it doesn’t usually work out that way. Of course there will always be those people who get amazing results in a short amount of time, but they are the exception not the rule.
For the rest of us, we have to grind it out. That’s why it’s crucial to keep track of your progress. The best ways to track progress are to:
- Document progress every step of the way
- Set benchmarks or milestones
- Add incentives to your benchmarks
If you are trying to transform your physique you should log your daily weight and food intake into a journal. Add weekly progress pictures as well. You won’t see much change from day to day or even week to week, but month to month and especially year to year you will see dramatic changes.
Set benchmarks, or medium term goals. The short term goals you work on should be leading up to a benchmark or milestone. These benchmarks should be leading up to a long term goal.
So if you’re losing weight, set a benchmark at every 10-50 lbs (depending on how much weight you have to lose). Then create an incentive for yourself after hitting each milestone.
It’s very important that you never incentivize thoughts over actions. That means don’t go celebrate about the fact that you’ve decided to do something. Anyone can decide to do anything.
ONLY CELEBRATE AFTER YOU’VE ACCOMPLISHED YOUR GOAL!
I can’t repeat that enough. Too many people celebrate way too early and once they’ve tasted the prize of victory, they no longer care to put in the work to actually accomplish it. Do not reward yourself before you’ve put in the work.
Be creative with incentives. If you are losing weight and you have a food addiction, don’t reward yourself with food. You’re not a dog. Reward yourself with something that adds value to your cause.
If you hit a big weight-loss milestone, celebrate by doing something you always wanted to do but couldn’t when you were bigger. Go rock climbing, ride that roller coaster you couldn’t fit in, buy clothes that you couldn’t wear before – do something that allows you to FEEL the joy of what you’ve accomplished. Don’t reward yourself with the root of your problem.
Would a drug addict celebrate 1 year of sobriety with a line of cocaine? No! Therefore if you have a problem with self-control and food, do not celebrate with food!
If you’re an entrepreneur and your business hits a sales milestone, celebrate by investing in your company. You could celebrate by going to a seminar you couldn’t afford before. Find a way to experience your success. Prizes get old quickly, but experiences have lasting impact.
Plan for Plateaus
This goes back to preparation. If you’ve done your research then you should already know what plateaus to expect.
Also, if you’ve been taking small steps you shouldn’t have to deal with plateaus in the early stages at all. By the time you’ve hit a plateau you should already have enough momentum built up to not get discouraged.
If you are starting a business you should know which quarters have higher sales and which ones have lower sales.
If you’re trying to get stronger, you should be aware from the beginning that your progress will stall. Do you have a plan ready?
One thing I suggest is to leverage your plateaus in your favor. That means if you know your sales are going to be down in the second quarter of the year, you know that you will likely have more time on your hands during that time. You can use that time to do market research, improve your process or work on relationship building with existing clients. Figure out something that will help you improve once you get through the plateau.
If you plateau on strength progression, use that to your advantage. Did you struggle to maintain good form? Were you having mobility issues? Drop the weight by 10% and focus on what made you stall. So if that means your form was sloppy then you should master your form with that lower weight first. Then when you work back up to where you previously stalled you should be able to complete your lifts and move on.
The idea is to not just get through the plateau, but to be even better once you get to the other side.
Plateaus are the time to take calculated risks, if necessary. If your restaurant can’t fit any more customers, it’s time to open a second location or even better – sell franchises. If your sales have stalled, but there’s room for improvement then it probably isn’t time for expansion. This might actually be a time to evaluate your process. It’s up to you to decide when the right time to take calculated risks is. Again, those who are more prepared will find this decision much easier to make.
Don’t look at plateaus as failure. Look at them as a chance to take a breath and regroup before going back into battle.
If you apply these principles you can become unstoppable. It all starts with you and the actions you take. To build an avalanche of momentum you have to be willing to put in more work upfront. However, if you can do that you will see greater long term results with less maintenance work. Momentum is one of the most powerful forces known to man – allow it to work in your favor instead of against you.
What did I leave out? I’m curious what you guys do to build and maintain momentum, let me know in the comments.
Until Next Time,
What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or have any thoughts to add? Let me know in the comments below.
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