According to Newton’s First Law of Motion, the tendency of a body in motion is to keep moving; the tendency of a body at rest is to sit still. In other words, it’s a lot less work to keep moving once you have some momentum, than it is to start moving from a dead stop.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re running a marathon or running a business – momentum is key. If we can take small steps to execute our big, bold business objectives every day in 2011, it will be infinitely easier to stay focused, make great strides, and blast through the roadblocks that inevitably come up.
Here are a few tips on how to build and maintain momentum:
1. Know that momentum takes time to build.
As serial entrepreneur Andy Swan has written, one of the most common mistakes is to “set lofty goals from a resting start.” With images of fame and success dancing in our heads, we set the bar too high, fail to make the grade, and quit because we’re discouraged.
Just as you would start training for a marathon by running a few miles and building from there, if you want to write the next bestselling business book, you might start by blogging regularly in your area of expertise, building a regular readership, then finding an agent, and so on.
It’s important to set small, realistic goals at first. Challenge yourself, but don’t overdo it. Setting achievable goals and experiencing incremental success will help you build momentum and confidence.
2. Carve out a consistent block of time to really move the needle on your big-picture objectives.
Particularly if you’re already running a small business and/or managing a team, finding regular time to devote to deep thinking, planning, and execution in a daily way can be extremely challenging. But there is nothing more important.
If you’re working on a business book, for example, you might block out time to write a certain number of pages per day. Whatever the goal, consistent execution is paramount: it keeps your head clear and focused; it rewards you with a constant feeling of progress; and, most importantly, it keeps the ball moving forward.
Don’t wait for this free time to magically “open up.” Rather, proactively carve out a block of time in your daily schedule – and make it public. As Gina Trapani advises in a Fast Company article, you’ll want to honor this commitment the same way you would a meeting with another person. Think of it as a meeting with your muse.
3. Work on your idea/project every day. No seriously, every day.
When it comes to momentum, frequency of execution is perhaps more important than the duration of execution. Even if you’re working on your project for just an hour a day that’s enough to keep your objectives and recent activities top of mind. Then, when you sit down to work on it again, you can slip quickly back into the flow.
Occasionally, something will knock you off course, and you won’t be able to work on your project that day. But if you’re striving to push it forward every single day, you’ll stay on track regardless.
4. Once you really get some momentum going, don't be afraid.
Anyone who’s ever been downhill skiing knows about the scary flipside of momentum. We yearn for it, but we’re also afraid of taking it too far. What if we start going too fast? What if we get out of control?
Seth Godin writes, “Many of us fear too much momentum. We look at a project launch or a job or another new commitment as something that might get out of control. It's one thing to be a folk singer playing to a hundred people a night in a coffeehouse, but what if the momentum builds and you become a star? A rock star? With an entourage and appearances and higher than high expectations for your next work?… Deep down, this potential for an overwhelming response alerts the lizard brain and we hold back.”
Don’t hold back. When it comes to executing bold ideas, the key is to get moving, and keep moving.
How Do You Keep the Momentum Going?
Do you have other tips and tricks for staying on a roll while executing a big idea? Please share them in the comments.
This post is based on research by the Behance team. Behance runs the Behance Creative Network, the 99% productivity think tank, the Action Method task management application, and the Creative Jobs List.