The Simple Secret to Building Momentum

If you have a couple people on a merry-go-round, it will take a good amount of force to get it moving. I’m talking the kind of pushing where you have to dig in your heals and strain every muscle. You have to push with everything you have to get the first few inches of rotation. As it gains gradually speed less force is required to keep it moving. Once it reaches top speed it takes very little effort to keep it there.

Once you have momentum, it is much easier to keep things going.

The person pushing a merry-go-round can stand by and keep it going with just one hand— a very different experience than starting it moving.

I’ve discovered in my work and with my projects that there is a secret to building momentum: it takes time. Sometimes it takes a very long time— way longer than we want it to.

Here are the three most important parts to building momentum:

Start now.

Because it takes so long, the best time to start is now (yesterday actually, but now will do). Because it takes so long, you can’t start too soon. Every day you wait is another day you have to keep pushing before you reach momentum.

Keep pushing.

There will be moments and seasons when it is very difficult. There will be times when you will doubt whether your work is worth it. It is. Keep pushing.

Don’t stop.

I can’t reiterate this enough. Don’t stop. You will want to, but don’t. You will feel afraid that you are wasting your time; be brave. You will feel anxious that things won’t work out as you make attempts at building momentum. You may even feel scared of going broke and having your power shut off (or worse!). At some level, those fears may be legitimate, but the success of your project may very well depend on your ability to stick with it in spite of your fears.

Why building momentum matter to you:

Whatever your work is — that work that means something and is connected to who you are — it takes time to step fully into it. You may begin by dabbling in it. Maybe you write about it on your blog. Maybe you host a dinner party and talk to your friends about it. Maybe you start a side project with some friends or maybe you volunteer somewhere. Maybe you ask people you know to let you work with them in a specific way. However it starts (and it’s important that it does start!), at times it will feel like everything is moving fast. People will begin to seek you out and talk to you about what you do. You’ll get a few emails and phone calls.

Eventually you’ll hit the dip. The dip is when the movement slows down and you doubt everything. It’s a season of slow. It’s a season of working hard with little visible return or payoff. What you’re doing isn’t the novel anymore and it hasn’t become something big and beautiful that people talk about yet. In a perfect world, everyone would know what you are about and they would tell all their friends. Usually, if that happens, it takes a very long time to get there. In the mean time, you’re in the desert of the dip and you are doubting everything.

This is where knowing how building momentum works is important.

Starting is easy. Staying is hard. Momentum takes time, and you only get there if you stay the course. Never give up.

PS- Seth Godin’s book, The Dip, is all about working through the The Dip between starting and having momentum.

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