Disclaimer: if you're in a rut and would like to stay where you are please don't read this blog post as it may produce lasting change that you'll never be able to go back on. Be warned. ;) Also, I say the word momentum a lot because I want to etch it in your brain and make you take action.
Let's dive in...
And the word of the month is, you guessed it, momentum! What does momentum mean and why am I so obsessed with it? Well, for me it was the difference between doing healthy stuff sometimes (aka when I felt like it) and doing it always. Momentum helped me set a new standard when it came to happiness, healthy habits and attitude and I've never looked back.
What is momentum? Momentum is defined as the force that keeps an object (in this case you and your healthy habits/mindset) moving or keeps an event developing after it has started; A property of a moving body that determines the length of time required to bring it to rest when under the action of a constant force; Strength or force gained by motion or by a series of events.
There is a caveat though: momentum works both ways - negatively and positively. People who are consistently miserable have gained so much momentum in that direction that it can be hard for them to change. Likewise, people who are always happy have built momentum in that direction so not much can bring them down.
Interesting! So how do we gain momentum? That depends. Some clients come in eager to change everything all at once, which is great! Others, however, are more tentative and not willing to change too quickly, which is OK too! Start with what feels doable in relation to where you are and more maintainable over the long term. But don't be afraid to let go of that comfort zone either because that's where the real change happens. Take action now, no matter how small the action may seem in the beginning.
I like to set weekly goals with clients; let's use exercise as our example shall we? If a client says their goal for the upcoming week is to exercise daily, I let them know that's a wonderful goal, but that they likely will have more success and gain more momentum if they set a smaller goal to start, let's say exercising three days a week. While it might sound counter intuitive to bring their goal down a notch, what I'm actually doing is setting them up for success. See, if a client says they want to do something every day, but they miss a day in the early stages, they'll probably feel discouraged and won't continue with that goal as they might feel as though they've failed or that the goal is too difficult. If they set a smaller goal, they're more likely to achieve it, if not exceed it, and will likely continue with their goal week after week because achieving their goal has given them confidence. Side note: I honestly think this is why most people fail at their New Year's resolutions within the first month. They go too hard too fast and they run out of steam.
Now that you've got momentum, how do you keep it? First, find out what your motivator is. Let's say your goal is to exercise three days a week. Are you doing it to have more energy? Feel better? Lose weight? Participate in a competition or race? If you know what motivates you to start this particular goal, you'll be more apt to continue on when the going gets tough, because let's be honest, we know it won't always be easy. You might not feel like peeling yourself out of bed first thing in the morning to go for a run, but if you know you have a race coming up and you want to actually cross the finish line, you best keep with it. Secondly, be patient. There will be days when you plan on exercising but it just doesn't happen. Celebrate that you actually wanted to get out and use that excitement to keep the momentum going and do it the next day. And remember too that some days, you simply aren't going to feel like it. Those are the days that you really need to push yourself to tie your sneakers and get out the door. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, make sure you make the decision and that your goal/motivation comes from within. If it comes from someone else (for example, your spouse wants you to lose weight), the motivation won't last.
Inevitably, we will lose a bit of momentum from time to time. Whether we go on vacation, get sick, or are suffering from an injury, it will happen and it can be hard to get back to where we were. We always know what we should do (get back into it), but we hesitate and think about it for too long. So here's your challenge for this month: don't hesitate. If you know what you should do, do it and don't change your mind. Don't overthink it, just take action. Training your mind to do this every time a decision comes about will result in long-term success no matter how long and how much you've struggled to maintain momentum with something in the past. And it will set you up for that lasting change you've been thinking about and wanting for so long. Are you ready to take action?
Suggestions to help keep you focused and gain momentum:
1. Make a daily to do list. On your fridge, a white board, a journal, your phone...
2. Keep yourself busy! There is no worse killer of momentum than not having enough to do. Having too much free time gives us too many opportunities to think and we fall into the procrastination mindset. The more free time you have the more apt you are to push something off until later. Make things happen!
3. Set daily goals no matter how small (do laundry, go for a 10 minute walk around the park, drink 2L of water, etc). This one can do hand-in-hand with the first suggestion.
4. Get in the habit of staying positive no matter what - see the good in every situation.
5. Don't make the mistake of choosing a goal that will make you feel overly restricted. I always tell my clients that my rule of thumb with healthy eating is 80/20. If they can eat well at least 80% of the time, the other 20% can be for little indulgences or if they go out to a friend's house and they don't have control over what's being served. This puts the ball in their court and doesn't make them feel like I'm placing big-time restrictions on their lives. It takes the pressure off them as well. (Note: this doesn't work with everyone. Some clients do need to restrict themselves from certain foods or habits during the momentum-building stage until they can feel confident that it won't derail their progress).
6. Get rid of excuses; they're weak and will always hold you back from success. I don't care if you run for 5 minutes or 50, a run is a run and even the small ones count and will help you build momentum.
Thanks for reading! :) If you have any questions and would like to chat with me privately about ways to better your health, feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I do in-house consultations as well as online/over the phone.
Wishing you all a great December! :)