Maintaining Your Momentum In the Age of Mass Distractions
10 practical steps to keep your momentum in an over distracted age.
Inertia is the tendency of an object to remain in a state of rest unless compelled by external forces that set it in motion. Once in motion, an object tends to keep moving in a straight line in the direction of the force applied to it unless compelled by other external forces acting to stop its motion. This is called momentum. These concepts learnt from early Physics lessons were as explained by Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of motion.
Any object, once in motion must have enough reserve energy to counter the opposition to its momentum. Otherwise, there is no escape, inertia soon sets in and the object falls back to ground zero.
In like manner, external and internal forces are always conspiring to delay or stop our momentum towards any worthwhile life objective. Internal forces spring from within, while external forces from without. These account for why most new year resolutions don’t last longer than the last day of every January. Check it out, we’ve all been there.
Here are some handy insights that will help sustain your momentum.
1. Always keep the goal in sight
One of the greatest mistakes people do often make is to forget what they set out to achieve at the onset. What was your initial motivation and goal for taking up this project, this course, or even starting the writing exercise?
When you keep your goals in sight, you are able to make time out for whatever steers you towards that desired target. Now, what are your goals? To get a new job, get a degree, get married, achieve specific business targets or attain some position in the corporate ladder? Only you can identify and keep these goals in sight. You are also the only one who can tell if any goal matters much at the end and in the grand scheme of your life.
2. Know your cycle of influence and stay inside it
Popularized in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey identified two main classes of people. These are proactive or reactive people. Proactive people focus on what they can do or influence, whereas reactive people focus their energy on things that are beyond their control. Covey’s model is based on two cycles, the cycle of influence and the cycle of control.
The cycle of influence encloses those things you can do something about while the cycle of concern are those things you have no control over. The key to a balanced life is to give more of your time, energy, and focus on your cycle of influence. This will enable you to make effective internal or external changes as necessary.
Focusing our energy and time on things we cannot change drains us of vitality and reduces our overall effectiveness. Focusing on what we have control over enhances our productivity, fruitfulness, and serenity.
3. Quell the storm of internal distractions
This follows in part from the previous rule. Internal distractions are as debilitating as external ones. They keep you from being focused long enough to make any worthwhile efforts towards your desired goal.
A lens is like any other piece of glass. What sets it apart from ordinary glass is its power of focus. The lens can concentrate all the energy coming from the sun to set a piece of paper ablaze or even melt a ball of steel. Without focus, our limited physical and mental energies are wasted in profligate dissipation.
4. Not everything that can be done is worth doing
You cannot do everything at the same time. Also, not everything that can be done is worth doing. The realization of this is most liberating when lived out in our daily life schemes. With this mindset, you will set your mind on doing one thing at a time.
Our gadgets come inbuilt with many options that enable us to multitask. They enhance our productivity and effectiveness. But multitasking always comes with its pitfalls.
Wisdom is in knowing where and when to draw balances. Balanced living enables us to modulate our lives in tune with our desired goals or targets. From now on, do more and achieve more by focusing on just one or a few vital pursuits at a time.
5. Not everything that can be known is worth knowing
No. I am not clamoring for a return to the stone ages when our ancestors were said to be living in caves and on trees and fire was the highest form of technology. The inordinate quest to seek for and binge on knowledge could be counterproductive.
Resist the urge to always be “in the know” or to always be the first in the know. The question to ask is, “What value is this new information, gossip, paparazzi scandal adding to my life?” You already know the answer to those questions. Following through with their implications will help you live and lead a life of sustained momentum free from debilitating distractions.
6. Get to your destination faster — by slowing down
What matters most in life is not always how fast you are going, but how well you are going. Hence, the adage, “Not how far but how well.” Often it is mandatory to slow down or even change direction in order to reach your destination. Pilots call this mid-course correction. They define midcourse correction as a navigational correction made in the course of a ship, airplane, rocket or space vehicle between the beginning and the end of the journey.
Without it, your next flight may not take you to your destination. Without it, you may end up stranded in the middle of nowhere on your way back from work. Counter-intuitive as this may be in our ever more frenetic paced world, we all need to slow down and make mid-course corrections all the time. You’ve always known this. From now on, always apply it more.
7. Stop Being a “Yes Man / Woman”
In a narcissist age where most people are obsessively concerned only about themselves, others fall to the negative extreme of being compulsive “Yes men/women”. Some assert that humans can not be truly altruistic because every human action is always tainted with self-interest. We all often need to make sacrifices for the good of others and society at large. But saying yes to everybody at all times could be detrimental to our welfare in the long run.
Basically, a “Yes man” or “Yes woman” is one whose sole desire is to live to please everybody else apart from himself or herself. The yes man or woman is a people pleaser with a single motive of always pleasing every other person, even at great personal losses. Conquer this urge.
The world can and will go on without you. Learn to place boundaries on your time, resources, and availability. Doing so will earn you more respect. Also, you will be more productive in ways that enable you to give more to your immediate community and the world at large.
8. Define Your Priorities and Stick to Them
A rolling stone gathers no moss. This is still true today, as when we first heard it in our early English Language classes. Prioritizing is what keeps us from succumbing to many distractions. How do you focus when your mind is clogged with many interests? Follow your dreams has been the mantra of a generation.
How do you pursue a dream that is always changing just at the time you are about to grasp it? Not only is it important to pursue your dreams. It is even of greater importance to identify which dreams are worth pursuing and sticking to. Find and stick to one, two or even three dreams that are worthy of your pursuits. This is the only way you can save time and make an impact.
9. Redeem the Time. Start Taking Action
There are hundreds of tools and applications that will help you organize your life and save time. Identify the ones that meet your needs and optimally use them. From To-do lists apps, Pomodoro timekeepers, writing and journaling apps, and even full-blown mobile office applications among others, most of the apps you need are already out there. Resist the time-wasting urge to always be at the forefront of every new app. (Of course, unless your job is building or testing apps).
10. Be Flexible and never lose heart over the setbacks
Obstacles will come your way, but you need to be consistent when it comes to refocusing on your initial objective. Redeem the time by always taking action. Taking action is the ultimate thing that guarantees you winning.
Celebrate your successes. The journey is as important as your destination. Do not wait until you reach your goal before celebrating. Recognizing, rewarding, and celebrating every little progress made will help you sustain the momentum needed to drive you on towards your life’s goals.
Copyright by © Steven Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Free Press, 1989
Copyright by © Random House, Unabridged Dictionary, 1997
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