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How to Create Self Help Momentum

How to Create Self Help Momentum
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    In order to get anywhere – either literally or metaphorically – we need to create and maintain a certain level of momentum. Sitting in your very-capable Porsche won’t get you anywhere unless you choose to start the engine, engage a gear (or six), steer the car and operate the pedals. In my time as a coach, trainer and teacher I’ve encountered many people who have not only been sitting in their Porsche for decades, but they’ve never even opened the garage door! Such a massive waste of talent, power and time.

    The person who doesn’t find a way to create momentum is the person who won’t realise their dreams, move forward or explore their potential. Sadly, some people will spend their lives sitting in neutral, almost doing something but never really doing anything significant. Talent, opportunities, ideas and even brilliance will amount to nothing if we fail to create and maintain momentum. Consider the person in your life (past or present) who is/was always talking about their grand plans for greatness, success and change in their world. You know; the one who is great at the theory (the talking bit) but not so good at the practical (the doing bit).

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    Here’s some momentum-creating suggestions that work… if you work.

    Procrastination is the enemy of potential, the refuge of the weak and a synonym for fear.

    1. Take that first step and keep stepping. As anyone with a basic understanding of physics will tell you, maintaining momentum is significantly easier than creating it. The first step is both the scariest and the most empowering. It’s also the most important. Procrastination is the enemy of potential, the refuge of the weak and a synonym for fear. The vast majority of people who take that long-overdue first step usually say something very predictable like “I wish I had done this years ago” or “I don’t know what I was so afraid of”. Get your potential out of neutral, engage a gear, hit the gas and don’t look back. Everything after the first step is a blessing or a lesson.

    2. Consider the cost of not changing. Imagine your life in five or ten years from now if you don’t change, if you don’t address the things you should and if you don’t pursue your dreams. Right now picture yourself being ten years older; you still haven’t made a significant decision, still haven’t taken that chance, still haven’t taken charge of your body, you’re still talking too much and doing too little, still coughing up the endless excuses, still being controlled by people and circumstances and still wasting your potential. Do you like that picture? Change is rarely about the right time and usually about the right attitude, choices and behaviours. Sometimes picturing what we don’t want is enough to get us moving in the right direction.

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    3. Gain some clarity and certainty. Get clear about what you want and don’t want for your life. Stop going through the motions and stop living that repetitive existence of habit – the one that makes you miserable and the one you really don’t want. The more certain you are about what you want, the easier it will be to stay focused, proactive and productive. If you don’t have clarity, then do your best to de-clutter your mind, step back, gain some perspective, spend more time by yourself, stop being so ‘busy’ (even for a day) and listen to that still small voice; it knows. When we make the effort to find some space, time and quiet and then genuinely listen, the clarity will come. The tricky bit can be when we find that clarity (about what we need to do) and it scares the crap out of us. When this happens, refer to point one!

    4. Get excited. Excitement creates momentum. When we’re excited we do stuff. We overcome fears. We take chances. We make tough decisions. We push the boundaries. We explore our potential. We become solution-focused. We become more resourceful. Chat with any successful person about their goals and their passion and you’ll see what I mean about excitement. If you’re not excited (on some level) about your goals, then you may need to find some different ones.

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    5. Set deadlines. Set yourself some non-negotiable deadlines and make a public (or semi-public) declaration. Not everyone’s cup of tea but works well for many. Sometimes we’ve gotta put our butt on the line to create some real momentum. Don’t be scared of pressure, discomfort or deadlines; they can make all the difference and they can be your greatest teacher. By the way, I’m not suggesting that you do this some time in the future when it suits your schedule and the planets have aligned, I’m suggesting that you do it in the next five minutes.

    Bossy I know.

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    More by this author

    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on July 21, 2021

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to Make a Reminder Works for You

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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