I was chatting with a young teenager the other day and they asked me about how to get some momentum going as they were feeling stuck and unmotivated. As we talked, the momentum model below came to the front of my mind. This model might be useful as an antidote to inertia – the advice included in it is very squarely aimed at those who are well and truly ‘stuck’.
These ideas are not always applicable for people who are on the move. If you are in the flow and have momentum, feel free to skip over this month’s read and save it for later consumption. However if you (or someone you know) is currently stuck these four strategies might help to get you unstuck and moving forward. Momentum is key to any lift moments in your life, and this one is about kick-starting your own momentum.
There are four awesome habits and mindsets that those who are good at getting going have in their life. These go-getters have a cool sense of urgency, a chill growth mindset, they are mad at delayed gratification and they have nailed advanced planning (I’ll stop now).
These four strategies sit on a spectrum: things you do in your mind (head) and things you can actually do (hands). Some can be done immediately (now) and others have a view towards the future (then). Let’s delve into them a little deeper.
There are four awesome habits and mindsets that those who are good at getting going have in their life.
A Sense of Urgency
The first quality that inertia busters have is that they have a sense of urgency, what Brian Tracy, the author of The Psychology of Achievement, calls a ‘bias for action’. Essentially, what you are resisting is the ‘I will get to that later’ mindset. If you have good workflows, then there is no doubt that delaying some stuff is smart. If, however, you are in a bit of a funk, you might find having a ‘bias for action’, a ‘do it now’ mindset, will be more helpful. Not only do you want to have a sense of urgency, you’ll also want to do the toughest task first. Always get the biggest, ugliest thing off your plate as soon as humanly possible. Otherwise, this thing will lurk over everything else you are doing and achieving and you’ll end up losing focus or become easily distracted. Finally, develop the habit of creating something before you consume something. Write that blog post before you watch some YouTube videos, earn the right to relax and enjoy. Marie Forleo does a great vlog on chasing this habit and you can check that out here (or add it to your ‘to consume’ list for later).
A Growth Mindset
Carol Dweck and her team at Stanford identified that people who perform well over time have what she defined as a growth mindset. Her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, unpacks this idea in detail. A growth mindset is focused on getting better, not being the best. A growth mindset is focused on ‘I can get better at anything’ and challenges the mindset that says, ‘I am no good at X’.
Mistakes or set-backs are opportunities for learning and growth. At the heart of having a growth mindset is the ethos of continuous improvement and focussing on the process and not on the end result. When you focus on the process and the work, you will find resilience and ability to push through high-pressure scenarios. This Growth Mindset Introduction by Trevor Ragan is a good way to get a handle on how this mindset works and why it is so valuable.
In the pursuit of freedom, many people step back from taking responsibility for their lives. A hedonistic, entitled ‘I deserve this now’ mindset is not at all helpful, however, for getting you to where you want to be. Delayed gratification and the idea of being able to enjoy themselves later is a core idea for a person who is stuck (different advice here for someone in flow). The good news is that in most cases deferring small pleasures now for greater pleasures later works on the principle of compounding benefits. And this habit only gets easier the longer you stick at it. Invest now and focus on the habits (not the result) and, in time, you will get greater results than you had imagined.
Getting the unnecessary urgency out of your life is pretty simple. Keep a detailed schedule, pack the night before and review the week ahead on Sunday evenings. Essentially, just prepare for stuff before you need to. All this prep work means that you will have very few instances of real urgency. This is something Dr Stephen Covey taught as ‘putting first things first’ in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Mistakes or set-backs are opportunities for learning and growth. At the heart of having a growth mindset is the ethos of continuous improvement and focussing on the process and not on the end result. When you focus on the process and the work, you will find resilience and ability to push through high-pressure scenarios. This Growth Mindset Introduction by Trevor Ragan is a good way to get a handle on how this mindset works and why it is so valuable.
Sometimes we just need help getting started. Success builds its own momentum but getting off the ground can be hard. Try these four ideas next time you are stuck and kick start your own momentum:
Build a sense of urgency
Encourage a ‘get better’ growth mindset
Enjoy some delayed gratification
Do some advanced planning
And know this: we all get stuck from time to time. It’s normal. Use these ideas to build a bridge and get over it. You won’t stay stuck forever. You got this.