Can you believe we're a little more than four months away from 2022? The amount of recovery time to get over last year has taken up most of this year. Understandable given the vaccine circumstances and slow opening up of the world, and also, yikes, where'd the time go?!
I don’t know about you, but many people I know entered this summer feeling burnt out from all the effort of maintaining their lives during the pandemic. There seemed to be a near-universal feeling of exhaustion. After a summer of some travel, freedom, and rest, maybe you’ve begun feeling some energy and motivation again. As you’ve started regaining your footing, what's most important right now is not making the perfect next life step, whether that’s a career change, a goal of becoming more organized, or changing something else in your life. What you need most is momentum. Even though we’re facing down another round of COVID, I believe maintaining momentum is incredibly important right now for your life and your sanity.
Wasted Time or Gaining Momentum?
Recently my friend Jake* put weeks of effort into making a career change. He updated his resume and Linkedin profile, did hours of research on career possibilities, and began networking and applying to jobs. A couple of months into the process, he then had some clarity and realized he needed to change direction again. Noooo! Had he wasted all of that time and effort? No, I believe he didn't waste it at all. What he was doing during his preparation for his career change was gaining energy and hope and speeding up his forward movement. I love the adage, "you can only turn a car that's moving." When cars are parked, they're impossible to turn, and the same goes for people. Movement, ANY movement, is helpful even if you have to change direction mid-way. Jake was slowly building momentum to make a life change.
I define momentum as hope + energy = forward movement. The speed at which we move forward in life is determined by our level of hope and energy. Hope is the belief that good is ahead and attainable; while energy is the ability to harness and direct your life force toward something.
Building Up Slowly
The thing about momentum that is important to know is that you can only build it slowly over time. Unless you're suddenly hit with a magical life circumstance (you win a million dollars, someone hands you your dream job, a difficult circumstance is suddenly solved), you will need to build your momentum step by step. Magical life circumstances are fantastic because they loan us momentum for a time, but they can't be relied on. You'll need to build the momentum yourself. Using the car analogy again, you take the car out of park and go 5 miles per hour, then 10, then 20 and so on.
If you've ever tried making a life change (eating healthier, saving more money and spending less, etc.), you know you've never made a significant life change easily and all at once. If you try to set a big goal, there's a chance (might I even say a 99% chance?) that you tried and failed and tried again and failed again. Life shifts, habits, and positive changes are made in small steps because they require stamina. Stamina to sustain the change or increase the level of change is a slow-build. Ever tried starting a workout program and noticing for the first few weeks you're extra tired at the end of the day? Your body has to get used to expending the extra energy while also using its resources to build muscle and adjust your metabolism so you can handle more. It's the same design in every area of our lives. Our bodies and brains are adjustable, but they take a little while to adjust.
Cassie*, a client trying to build more self-discipline into her life, spent months feeling demoralized. Week after week, she set a to-do list that was pretty impressively impossible. First on her list was to make sure all her interactions with her young kids were intentional and loving, then, keep the house immaculate, read more, pick up a hobby or two, start volunteering, eat a paleo diet, and on and on. It was no wonder she found herself avoiding most things and scrolling the internet instead. While it's *highly* possible her goals were unrealistic and unkind to herself (*wink, wink, they were, but that's a different article topic altogether). For starters, more reasonable standards (and much smaller steps) were needed. When she began to own that more realistic, smaller steps were needed to make the changes; she began to find small wins. Cassie slowly found she was changing how often she avoided her life through internet escapism and felt more hope and peace.
If you're anything like me, you know that your level of hope and energy is hard to come by and easy to lose! I'll discuss in future articles how to harness and protect your momentum so you can reach your goals and what to do if you've lost your momentum entirely.
*Real names and exact details are changed to protect privacy.