“If you have the guts to keep making mistakes, your wisdom and intelligence leap forward with huge momentum.” ~ Holly Near
Achieving our goals requires consistent momentum. Gaining momentum is not a painful push, but rather an embrace of inspiration.
The pain of being stuck in an ever-repeating Groundhog Day (making the same promises to ourselves and then rapidly breaking them) is piercing, debilitating, and demoralizing. This gerbil wheel of procrastination and hiding out serves a heaping helping of ammo to our lizard brains (“Told ya you couldn’t do it!”) and derails our willingness to keep going.
This pain is all too familiar to me. I tend to feel it in my stomach…a queasy mish mash of anxiety…before it radiates to my heart, sinking it.
After weeks and months and years of Groundhog Days and the accompanying seasickness of letting myself down, I decided I had to make dramatic changes and follow Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice: “…do the thing you think you cannot do.”
That thing for me was to completely overhaul my habits and rituals around my health and wellbeing.
I knew that if I did not heal my body, spirit, and soul, I would forever live a life of diminished joy and quality. I would have physical pain, flagging energy, lack of focus/clarity, anemic confidence, and minimal inclination to pursue the lofty, creative and entrepreneurial goals that I dreamed of.
Revamping my physical habits, therefore, was the linchpin to whether or not I would have the business and life I craved. Without championing those, there would be no foundation upon which to build practices that took my creativity and my enterprise to the heights I desired.
Without Momentum We Struggle
Until I established momentum, I’d face a moment of decision…consideration…each day before taking action. I’d negotiate with myself, oftentimes before even getting out of bed. “Should I sleep in today? I don’t need to get up just yet. I can skip celery juice today…no biggie. If I do a longer hike tomorrow, I can miss my hike today. I don’t have time to write my Morning Pages or meditate this morning…too much going on. I’ll get to that tomorrow.”
On and on.
It was an exhausting tug-of-war with myself. I had to force myself to do the things I knew I should do. Every single day, on repeat, the same battle.
Once I found the tiniest bit of effective leverage on myself, however, the wheel of momentum began turning (very slowly, at first) in my favor. The positive turn began with my getting very clear on precisely what my larger goals were that meant the world to me: having exceptional life quality, feeling amazing and confident in my own skin, possessing vast reserves of energy, being willing to commit to the years of hard work to birth a book (a dream I have had my entire life), pursuing the development of my artistic expression, taking my business well beyond the ceiling I believed existed, experiencing the joyful pursuit of learning new skills, and connecting with all the people I love and being wholly present with them.
Yes, I want it all.
Writing down all of these goals filled me with an exuberance of possibility which turned out to be a critical emotion to keep the flywheel of momentum going. Little by little, decision by decision, I began crafting new neural pathways in my brain, establishing my desired ways of behaving as habits on automatic pilot.
My progress was slow, but measurable. And it turned out to be just enough.
The Key Elements of Momentum
As I reverse engineer what it took to keep going, keep the sails of momentum filled with wind, I can reduce my efforts down to 5 principles:
1) I had to believe it was possible for me. Seeing clearly my expansive dreams was key; I leaned into the excitement when I imagined my new life, and this powered my sense of possibility.
2) I had to look at how crowded my life was and prune without ceasing. I had forgotten what it felt like to hear myself think or fully drop into feeling my emotions. I needed to have time and space to cement my new ways of being, and that meant triaging my schedule so that I had hours…days…without appointments, commitments to others.
3) I had to make it easy. I recognized that I had to prop myself up at first by ensuring the runway was clear for a sound take off in the morning. That meant I prepped everything the night before: I assembled the juicer, filled the blender with my shake ingredients, prepared my French Press, placed my Morning Pages journal and candle on the table next to the sofa, and put my hiking boots near the front door. Importantly, I had to ensure I was getting plenty of sound sleep (which meant releasing an addiction to phone use before bed). I learned that if I won my night rituals, I tended to win my morning ones.
4) I had to release my death grip on Perfectionism and let myself make mistakes. Not just comfortably make mistakes, but to make them with gusto! When my lizard brain won a battle here and there, I got back on my routine horse immediately. I did not make my slipping off course temporarily to mean anything other than the fact I am human.
5) I recorded how I felt when I did what I said I was going to do. I wrote down every kept promise I made to myself in my Morning Pages and noticed all the places in my business and life that benefitted from this habit. This powered me forward through weeds, briars, and the times I felt like giving up.
This journey of my consistently showing up in the face of Resistance is ongoing, and it is revealing to me a new understanding and appreciation of the importance of inspiration. For underneath willingness, motivation, and momentum is an inspired spirit. Not the cartoony version of inspiration that is a lightning bolt epiphany, but rather the soft, sweet moments we feel ourselves connect with beauty, the experience of being in our bodies, sinking into truly restorative rest, working at the edge of what we think we can do, and immersion in nature, craft, and connection.
On the other side of stuck is the flow state of momentum. If it is powered by inspiration, it is relentless like a river, enabling us to shape our dreams into being and transforming us head to toe.