Have you ever heard of a flywheel? It's a mechanical device used to store and transfer energy—momentum—to other parts in a system or engine. Like a flywheel, your life or business also captures energy that you can use to bring about change. A flywheel can be turned faster and faster, and thus store more energy to use later. Similarly, you, too, can build more momentum in your life or business.
What is momentum
Momentum has a couple of meanings. One meaning is used in physics (which we're not talking about today), and the other purpose is used everywhere else.
We're talking about the second meaning of momentum here, which Google defines as
"The impetus and driving force gained by the development of a process or course of events."
I'll unpack that definition a bit for you because it sounds somewhat more complicated than it needs to be.
Momentum is a force that is built up by a series of inputs. This force is somewhat abstract:
- A business can have momentum.
- Your life can have momentum.
- A movement can have momentum. (Interesting side-note, the word 'momentum' comes from the word 'moving').
Let me give you one example of momentum in life.
You run for 30 minutes every day. Eventually, you'll have built up the momentum in the form of fitness that you can use elsewhere. You can do a running contest without putting in more effort (other than the competition). That contest is something you couldn't do if you hadn't trained (i.e., putting in the work to build momentum).
Say that contest helps you make new connections because you came in 2nd, and you got some local news coverage. You wouldn't have gotten that without putting in the work.
You have, in an abstract way, stored up a force you can use to bring about change in your life that helps you.
A pretty clear business example is the momentum Elon Musk now has.
He first put in a lot of energy to build momentum with his earliest company, Zip2. He then used that force to create Paypal and created the other notable companies we now see him run.
This is what the power of building momentum is.
Why build momentum
Looking at the above two examples, it becomes pretty clear why you'd want to build momentum in your life and business. It allows you to affect change in the world with an increasingly more significant impact.
A lot of the momentum that people build up can be divided into three big categories.
- Health & Fitness - Do you take care of your body, mind, and health every day? Can the force you built up handle setbacks?
- Money & Assets - Did you live under your means so you could save? Have you invested in (income generating) assets?
- Network(social) & Goodwill - Did you give back to your community, family, friends? Can you tap that network when you need it (most)?
There are undoubtedly other ways to categorized the areas wherein you can build momentum. This is just one that I feel works well. Also, I specifically didn't add 'Business' as a category because, like 'Life,' I think it's an area covering all of the above categories.
How to gain momentum
Now we finally come to HOW to build momentum, which is what you were looking for in the first place. So here are my 9 tips to help you build and keep momentum.
1. Stay consistent - Consistency is vital in building momentum. When you give up on something before you can reap benefits from it, it's such a waste of energy and time. When you do that over and over again—serial wantrepreneurs starting a new startup every 3 months but then giving up on it—you'll be left with close to nothing. The same goes for building an audience on your social media platform of choice or writing a newsletter. Keep at it for a predetermined amount of time, at least.
2. Start small Let's look at the flywheel example from the intro again. A small flywheel is much easier to turn than a big one. Some big and heavy flywheels can't even be turned on their own; they need a transfer of energy (through gears) from other wheels. When you start small, you can build momentum easier. It may not be much at first, but it'll be momentum, at least. You can then use that momentum to bring about other changes that help you build even more momentum.
3. Use your strengths - You were born and raised in a totally unique way, you have powers that others don't have. Use those to your advantage to multiply the impact of your actions. It is one of the neglected parts of building momentum for many people. (Many try to improve their weaknesses vs. growing their strengths.)
4. Work towards specific goals Make what you work towards SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based). It not only helps you to actually achieve the goals, but you'll get there faster and with more impact than when you're just messing around vaguely. For building momentum, it helps because you keep the time short between goals that you meet. It's as if you're pushing your flywheel more often (building more momentum).
5. Say no - This ties in with staying consistent and working towards specific goals that I talked about above. A lot of the ways you get distracted is by outside influences wanting something from you. If you're able to say "No," you'll have a much easier time working on your own goals and outcomes.
6. Try to work in a specific domain/topic until you see results - When you work within a domain for a longer time, you build up goodwill with the people you work with, build up a network, and build up knowledge and expertise. All of this is a big chunk of the momentum you built in that area.
But if you continuously switch between industries, and yes, this can be a lot of fun (I'm guilty of this myself), it does not help build a force to be reckoned with.
7. Take preventative action to lower distractions in life - Everyone will have bad moments in life; some can't be planned (like the death of a loved one). But a lot of what distracts you from gaining and keeping momentum in life and business can be prevented or dealt with.
Here's a 2D matrix I made to help you decide on what types of actions to take when you're unsure of where you are in building and keeping momentum.
8. Don't be afraid of accepting help - Every so often, people come along that see what you do, because you're doing it consistently and with passion, that wants to help you. Take their help and use it as input for your flywheel.
9. Focus on what you really value, on what your purpose is - Say that you're working hard within an area, you're being consistent with what you do, started small, got rid of distractions, etc. You did all of the above tips I described, but you didn't focus on what you really value, your Purpose (yes with a capital P). Then the momentum you built up is partially for nothing.
Eventually, you'll want to make significant changes in areas of your life or business that's in line with your purpose. But if you built momentum solely in a specific domain, then it's hard to transfer that energy. So it will be challenging to make the impact you want.
So be sure to find your purpose, or at least reflect on it every so often.