One of my all-time favorite quotes is related to momentum. Frances Willard said:
The world is wide, and I will not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum.
Intuitively we know momentum is needed to achieve a Big Goal.
It helps us steer clear of distractions and bounce back from setbacks. It’s what sees us through from our initial, inspired excitement about a goal. It’s what keeps us on course to when our goal is realized.
Here are 7 keys to sustaining momentum:
- State your goal positively. Rather than describe your Big Goal as a problem or something to get rid of (I want to lose 20 pounds; I want to get out of debt), frame it as a positive statement that calls to you (I want to be fit and healthy; I want financial peace of mind).
- Avoid trying to do everything at once. To maintain momentum, break your Big Goal into small, manageable steps and then take action, one step at a time, every single day. Avoid getting stuck in the overwhelm of a Big Goal by deconstructing it into its digestible parts.
- Don’t focus on what you can’t do. Sustaining momentum is all about keeping your eye on the goal and focusing on what is possible. Yes, you’ll encounter obstacles, but don’t go looking for them. If you do, it’s like that saying: When you’re a nail, the whole world’s a hammer. Keep your focus on what you can do and what is possible. Take the one next step that will move you forward. “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” —Henry Ford
- Understand what it takes to keep you motivated. There’s intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Competition motivates some while for others its achievement, social connection, or integrity. Positive motivation (the carrot) works for many, while negative motivation (the stick) is the ticket for others. Think about what it takes to keep you motivated and then leverage that understanding about what makes you tick.
- Review your overall progress regularly and reorient toward your goal. If you were taking a trip across country and took a wrong turn, you wouldn’t just keep going. You’d stop, reorient, turn around, and get back on track. Do the same for your Big Goal—be diligent about mapping your course, keeping track of where you are, and making course corrections as necessary.
- Celebrate your successes—big and small. You can build on success more easily than you can on failure and setbacks. Take note of every step forward—no matter how small—and celebrate every milestone. Being aware of and acknowledging your progress sustains your efforts over the long haul of achieving your Big Goal.
- Surround yourself with success. Some people are good at goal setting while others are better at goal management. Some excel at both. Surround yourself with people who are successful at setting and achieving challenging goals. Being around them is inspiring and helps you raise the bar on your own efforts.
What other strategies for sustaining momentum have been effective for you?