We all want to move forward and achieve our goals, but frequently we are blocked by our inability to begin. Try as we might, we just can’t gain any momentum. I’m not referring to physical momentum – something we see in a science experiment. Strike a cue ball, watch how the physical energy is transferred from one pool ball to another, and voilà– there’s physical momentum on display for your viewing pleasure.
What I’m referring to is something I call “emotional momentum.” One team struggles for a bit, and then finds some success. That team begins to believe in its success and suddenly we’re watching a team with emotional momentum. We may not be able to see the momentum but we can feel it and see the positive outcome it brings.
Let me give you another example: If you exercise, have you ever noticed it seems to take forever to get to the middle of your workout but once you get to the middle, the second half seems to fly by? Although you know you spent the same amount of time in the first half of your workout as the second, that’s not what the mind says.
When I am assisting clients in their goal to write a book, I recognize the hardest part of writing the book will be starting the book. You can’t really start without research and an outline, but that’s not what creates emotional momentum. Writing, and actually churning out pages, is what creates emotional momentum.
I’ve worked with clients who will tell me they’ve spent ten years working on a book, but rarely have they finished even five pages. In an attempt to create emotional momentum, I tell them this:
- You won’t be editing as you write.
- You won’t be reviewing what you write.
- You won’t be analyzing what you write.
You will be following your outline, turning those words loose, and writing. It’s amazing to see someone, who has never finished a page, finish a chapter. When they do, emotional momentum begins to surface. When one chapter becomes two chapters, that emotional momentum builds even more. When that writer gets to the halfway point, emotional momentum kicks in big time, and that writer can’t be stopped. It’s almost as exciting for me to watch it as it is for that writer to live it.
So why can’t we harness that emotional momentum in other things we do? One of the obstacles in our way is the lack of clear, measurable goals. When you have a specific workout, or the desire to write a book, the goal is easy to measure. It’s right there in front of you, in the form of time or pages. But when you want to improve a skill, or create a change in your life, a clear, measureable goal is often lacking.
There’s a relatively easy fix for this, and it’s often as easy as breaking your larger goals down into smaller, measurable tasks. Getting in shape is a big goal – but setting up a series of days and times to workout is a smaller task. Completing the smaller goal creates emotional momentum. Writing a book is a big goal – but outlining one chapter is a smaller task. The process of completing that smaller, less intimidating task creates emotional momentum, and it can be ridden like a wave to the finish line.
What goals in your life have you been contemplating? What smaller, measurable tasks can you line up to create the emotional momentum you need to take those goals to your finish line? Oh, and why not start today?!