Motivation vs. Momentum

A Newton's cradle sitting on a desk

When you have a mind-blowing idea or initial spark of inspiration, the motivation to do what you need to can be abundant. At first, you’re extremely driven, putting in the hours and noticing that they hardly even feel like work.

But then, you start to notice fatigue settle in. Working toward your goal isn’t as fun or easy as it used to be. The excitement of one day reaching your goal begins to wear off, and your progress starts to become stagnant.

Does this sound familiar to you?

It’s perfectly natural to start feeling tired and discouraged after a while of working and trying, but not yet reaching your goals. In fact, it happens to everyone at some point or another, no matter how strong your momentum was at the beginning of your journey.

That’s what I’ll be discussing in today’s article. We’ll take a deeper look at the difference between motivation and momentum, and a few ways that you can keep your momentum going.

The Difference Between Motivation and Momentum

From what I’ve seen in coaching, motivation is the spark, the inspiration. It’s what compels you to take action. Motivation is the positive feeling that takes you out of the comfort of inaction and drives you into the unknown of making a change.

Momentum is the force that keeps you going. While motivation is a feeling, momentum is the action part of the equation. Momentum is what keeps you going, even when you feel like you’d rather quit. Momentum means getting into the habit of taking active steps to reach your goals each and every day.

Ultimately, motivation is the absolute starting point. Momentum is what will get you across the finish line.

Tips for Building Momentum

1. Set a Schedule

You may have heard before that humans are creatures of habit, and this is absolutely true. Scientifically, people are hardwired to form habits and repeated tasks each day. Therefore, if you make completing certain tasks in order to reach your overall goal a part of your daily routine, you may find that you require very little motivation in order to get where you want to go; it will just be a habit.

Furthermore, having a schedule has been shown to help reduce stress and improve health overall, as well as improve sleep and productivity.

Try to find a scheduling technique and overall daily schedule that works best for you. It will propel you toward your goals and also make you feel better overall.

2. Try Focusing on One Goal at a Time

One of the major reasons that we stop building momentum is because it feels like the task at hand is too big for us to complete. You dream big, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Rather, you may need to reframe your thinking in order to make this dream a bit more manageable.

This is when it can be helpful to break down your overall objective into singular goals. What do you want to achieve first and foremost? Once you have identified this one goal, you can begin breaking it down into individual tasks, things you’ll do in order to achieve the goal. It can be helpful to create a timeline in order to keep yourself on track, that way you can hold yourself accountable throughout the process.

It’s important to note, however, that it’s perfectly normal for a schedule to need to change over time. Sometimes plans don’t go the way we had envisioned. Get comfortable with making adjustments as you go along.

Hold yourself accountable and try to stay on track with hard deadlines, but also keep your mental health in mind as your schedule adapts and changes. Small steps each day are still progress, even if they don’t feel that way in the moment.

3. Celebrate Every Success

When you reach a milestone (large, small, or anywhere in between), it can be easy to focus on all of the work that still needs to be done. However, it’s so important to recognize your accomplishments. Always be sure to take a moment to bask in your success before moving on to the next task.

There’s no specific way to do this, rather, you make the rules for how you want to celebrate. Maybe you take time out of your day to call your friends and tell them about the accomplishment. Perhaps you order dinner from your favorite restaurant. You might even take one hard-earned night off, if you’re able.

Taking the time to feel proud of what you’ve done will help reignite your passion and (get this) that initial motivation you first felt to start this project in the very beginning. Always take a pause to celebrate your wins. They’re what will keep you going through the tougher periods of time.

To Conclude

Motivation and momentum are not the same thing, and both may come and go throughout the course of your life and career. However, if you can start taking active steps to foster that spark of motivation and then make momentum a part of your daily practice, you’ll find that you’re that much closer to achieving your goals. The key is hanging on through the toughest patches. You can do it. You’ve done it so many times before. Never give up.

If you need further guidance or some tactics for maintaining momentum over time at work, for your team, or in your personal life, set up a meeting with me. I would love to work with you and have a front row seat for all of your many successes.

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