The past few months have been very busy in all aspects of my life and it has felt like one of those grind it out kind of periods. A major project was stalling, I hadn’t put out a blog in a while, and I wasn’t feeling great about my accomplishments. Work/life balance was ok, but I just wasn’t in a groove and definitely not feeling that I was operating at my best. I didn’t have momentum.
Then a couple of weeks back, while I was driving into work, I pulled up next to a black Ford Explorer and the driver caught my attention. His windows were down and loud music was pouring out of the SUV. I looked over and he was air drumming, air guitaring, and singing all at the same time. His head was bobbing and I think he was even biting his upper lip. He was in a groove. I have no idea who he was, where he was going, or anything about his story. I just saw a person that was in a really good place.
It made me smile. I’ve been there before and it is awesome. It’s that feeling when everything is going your way and you have momentum in your favor. It was the trigger that I needed to put things into perspective and reignited the desire to get my mojo back. I called a friend of mine, Candace Mau, who is a firm believer in the power of the proper mindset, as she has started hosting Joy Workshops. We brainstormed our favorite ways to manufacture momentum and get into the right mindset.
Our Top Ten List:
1) Turn up your favorite playlist
Music has an amazing ability to influence our mental state. In 2014, I published an article published in Consulting Magazine Run your Project Like a Rock Concert, where I connected rolling out a major project to putting on a show and engaging the crowd. It was inspired by listening to an upbeat and live album while on a morning run during a time that I was in my groove. I like to think of it like the soundtrack to this movie called ‘your life’ that you are writing, directing, and staring. You most likely know the songs or genre that does it for you. Get them queued and turn them up!
2) Clear the deck
My wife teases me about this one and calls it ‘sorting, sorting, sorting’, inspired by a flight attendant on a trip to London. The flight attendant resorted the entire galley before we took off and clearly needed it to be set up just the way she liked it for this long flight. I end up doing the same thing before starting a big task or even when I’m not exactly sure where to start. I’ll organize my desk space, files on my computer, and deleting all the e-mails that have no more value. I feel more focused when I’m operating with a clean slate. I used to view this as procrastinating, but now I embrace it as a productivity hack.
3) Eat that frog
Brian Tracy wrote a great book, Eat that Frog, based on the famous quote from Mark Twain “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day”. Reinforcing that you have to prioritize the important tasks because you will never get to everything on your list. Accomplishing these most important things is what really creates the momentum. I’ve started listing out my top 3 MVP items in categories (work, project, personal) that I must complete that day and treating the rest like a backlog. If it is too big to get done in one day, break it down into smaller parts that make progress towards the ultimate goal.
4) Get moving
Today’s work environment provides us with so many tools that we hardly need to leave our desks, or for some, not even leave their home. It has gotten to the point that we now buy watches that tell us when to stand up and bracelets to track our steps. Yes, physical movement literally (or figuratively… I never know which one to use), creates momentum. I’m amazed at how many great ideas or thoughts on how to do something come to me while I’m walking down the hall or have stepped away for a minute. Nothing beats engaging with someone face-to face anyway, so walk over to that person rather than pinging them on chat or sending a text. Walk around while you call them and find ways to put motion into your day-to-day activities.
Things are so heavy today. The divisive politics, the volatile stock market, climate change, (insert headline here). On top of that, we take our jobs so seriously and sometimes it feels like we lose sight of the great opportunity that we have for connection every day. My wife shared with me a book that her school embraced called the Energy Bus, by Jon Gordon. The parable shows the power of positive energy and its transformational impact on a businessman. It resonates because I can definitely see it, and feel it when positivity is contagiously flowing through a group and creating energy. I’ll sometimes resort to a dad joke to break the ice and kick start the momentum (that’s a topic for another blog). Work is always going to be work, so we might as well have some fun while we are at it.
6) Show gratitude
Honestly, this is a fairly new one to me and one that I am embracing more and more, especially after becoming a father. I used to view momentum and success by the number of tasks I accomplished or by achieving certain results. It was all about me. I was so focused on the future and used the fear of failure as the motivator. Although a clear vision is necessary, being grateful and engaged in the present is what fuels positive momentum and makes the journey so much more enjoyable.
7) Engage in your passion
We get energy when we are doing what we enjoy most. Find the time to reengage in one or two things that you enjoy the most and the benefits will carry over to your day-to-day. Whether it is spending time with friends, reading, exercising, or any of the other million great things you can do in this world. When you do it, go all in. This is your passion, so you should be doing it passionately. Let the engagement with your one of your favorite activities be the catalyst to get your momentum flowing in the right direction.
8) Establish your routine
If you feel like you lost momentum, there is a good chance that you are out of routine. I don’t think there is a self-help book, coach, or therapist that doesn’t preach the importance of routine. Redefine what is going to make up your daily, weekly, monthly routine and start executing on it. Ensure the routine includes engaging in your passion from #7 above. Getting into routines can definitely help you manufacture momentum, but most importantly, help you maintain your momentum.
9) Celebrate success and make adjustments
Take a step back and look at where you are on your journey. What goals have you met, what things have changed, and are you holding on to the past or focused on something that isn’t important anymore. It’s not only about what you are going to do, but also deciding what you are NOT going to do. This is the first year that I have tracked my progress against my annual goals on a weekly basis. Every Sunday night, I rate my performance (Red, Yellow, Green) against my personal goals for the year. It’s made a difference in keeping me focused on what I deemed as important and making changes real-time. This ensures that I’m committed to goals and not just making resolutions.
We all know this Nike slogan and it is brilliant in so many ways. Just getting started can be the hardest part. Sometimes you just need to jump in, take the leap, and get started to manufacture the momentum.
I know there are hundreds of articles and books a on this and related topics (I think I own most of them). However, sometimes you just need to see it in action, like the guy at the stoplight or come across someones blog to get you going. I hope that you find your top 10 ways to your momentum going!