Updated: Jul 15
Momentum can be a funny thing. When you’ve got it, it seems effortless. You’re in the flow, firing on all cylinders. But when you don’t have it, holy cow, it can be hard to get going!
If you have your heart set on something you’d like to accomplish, but you are feeling a little stuck in place and starting to wonder if it will ever happen, check out these quick tips to get you moving in the right direction:
Suss out your steps. Break down your goal into the smallest steps as possible. In addition to giving you a roadmap for action, there’s a physiological bonus: the act of breaking down a larger task into smaller tasks releases dopamine in your body. Dopamine is the reward chemical and will actually make you feel good. So even before you’ve actually done anything other than break your task down into smaller parts, you’ll already be feeling better, which will help you move forward! As an example, if you’re looking for a job, your list might look like:
Update LinkedIn profile
Write “professional profile” section on resume
Revise work history section on resume
Identify three potential people who could serve as references
Connect with these three possible references; verify they are willing to be your references and make sure you have correct contact information
Build a list of people you need to connect with who may have advice or referrals
Contact 2 people on the list of potential referrals to set up coffee meetings
Actually meet with 2 people on the list of potential referrals
Take one big, giant, tiny step. An object in motion tends to stay in motion. If you’re struggling to find momentum, just start by doing SOMETHING. If you need to clean out your entire messy garage but are overwhelmed by the project (speaking from experience here - for almost a decade we referred to our garage as “the pit of despair”), set a time for ONE MINUTE and get started on one tiny area. My first step towards cleaning our garage was to wipe off the spilled laundry detergent that had accumulated on top of the washing machine. That was IT. And the next day, I went in and cleaned off the clutter that was stacked on top of the dryer and organized one section of one shelf where we keep toilet paper, trash bags, and that sort of stuff. One SECTION of a shelf. I couldn’t even manage a shelf! However, over time, I started to see progress, and now, I’ve got a lovely, clean, well-organized garage! The same strategy works for your goals. All you need to start seeing is some progress. Even if it’s one minute at a time.
Maintain perspective. Byron Katie is a prolific author and teacher. In her well-known teachings called simply “The Work”, when we encounter a negative thought, the first question Byron encourages us to ask is, “Is this true?” This is such a seemingly simple question, but it is immensely powerful. Build some awareness around your thought processes and what refrains are running through your head. Are these thoughts actually true? Or is fear creeping in? (For more on Byron Katie’s work, check out: thework.com) Another great way to maintain perspective is to bring a friend or Coach in on what’s going through your head. You might be doing more than you think you are! Gaining some insight and encouragement from a trusted source can do a lot to boost your momentum.
Don’t confuse grinding with momentum. When I was learning to drive a stick shift, “Don’t grind the gears!” became a familiar refrain from both of my poor, patient parents who were trying to teach me. Momentum is about what is actually propelling you forward. Don’t confuse busy-ness and grinding with forward motion.
“Even the best momentum can be disrupted by unexpected speed bumps. Don’t let these negatives pull you down. It’s one thing to take a break to gather your thoughts and re-attack the issue from a new perspective. It’s another to let this new anti-momentum set the new pace. Remember those smaller steps, and remember how good it felt getting them accomplished. Let that be your incentive to keep moving ahead. Before you know it, you’ll have arrived.
Nicole Lance is a women’s leadership development expert, facilitator, executive coach, speaker, strategic planner, and promoter of self-care. She is passionately committed to helping organizations and individuals succeed in reaching - and reaching beyond - their goals.