Merriam Webster defines momentum as: strength or force gained by motion or by a series of events. Strength is gained by motion. By moving forward, you become stronger. The moment you stop, that momentum is lost and you’ll have to begin again.
This is why momentum is so important.
What do I mean when I say momentum?
How often have you said you’re going to start something, only to quit two weeks later and then completely fall off the wagon? What does that lead to? Not only do you lose momentum, but the guilt you feel about failing yourself yet again weighs so heavily on you that you can hardly imagine trying again, let alone sticking to anything.
That is exactly what I’m going to help you avoid.
I’ve been there and it sucks. I remember just over a year ago, I went over 120 days straight of hitting my water goal. I was so proud of myself, but one day I missed it and I lost all of the momentum that I had gained. I was so frustrated that I just gave up. I haven’t had any streaks more than a few days since then.
The power that I had that kept me going was the momentum. I’m not saying that the moment you lose a streak you should quit. But there is power in keeping up and building that momentum.
This is why, when you first start an exercise or eating plan, sticking to it with no exceptions for at least 28 days is so important. You need to establish a habit and develop discipline before you can allow yourself much wiggle room.
Think about it this way: say you’re starting an exxercise plan that has you working out 5 days a week. If the first week you work out two days, the second week you work out 4 days, you’re not creating disciplined habits. I’ve heard it said that if you can do something for 21 days it becomes a habit. I don’t know the science behind that, but I have found that for me personally, when I stick to something for a minimum of 28 days, or 4 weeks, it becomes less of an option and more of a requirement.
Life happens. Giving yourself grace is important. I understand that. But you need to create disciplined habits if you’re actually looking to change your life. This concept is an important one whether it’s fitness, diet, business, etc. You have to do something on repeat consistently for your brain to register that it’s something that you’re going to stick to.
28 isn’t a magic number. It doesn’t mean that on day 29 you’re going to wake up and the sun will shine on you and you’ll never struggle with discipline ever again. But after you’ve done something for a solid month with no excuses allowed, you’ve increased your chances tremendously that you’re going to follow through with it.
The reason so many of us quit right after we start, or even worse, before we start, is because we’ve created a habit of quitting. Think about it: how many times have you quit versus how many times have you followed through? I’m not asking this out of judgement or to make youfeel bad about yourself. I’m asking this so you can start self evaluating where you are. I don’t want you to look at how often you’ve quit and beat yourself up about it. That’s not going to get you anywhere. I want you to find encouragement in it.
Really, Karleigh? You’re wanting me to evaluate how often I’ve quit and see it as a good thing?
Yes, yes I do. And here’s why.
You’ve quit over and over and created a habit. That means that you have the capability of creating habits. Whether it’s positive or negative isn’t important right now. What’s important is that you’re capable. It’s all about the mindset shift.
Once you realize that you’re capable of creating habits, that’s going to help silence that voice in your head that says that you’ve always quit. If you’ve always quit in the past, that means you’re able to create new habits for the future. Start telling yourself,
“I’m capable of creating positive habits. I’m capable of gaining momentum.”
Tell that to the voice in your head every time it wants you to quit. Every. Single. Time.
This attacks that negativity two fold. One, you’re doing an activity consistently on repeat. This tells your brain that this needs to become a habit. When you tell yourself that you’re capable of creating habits and creating momentum, you’re literally rewiring your brain to believe that you’re doing it. This will help you create discipline because even on a subconscious level it’s becoming wired in.
After that 28 days, when things happen, you have more of a chance of rolling with the punches because you’ll have developed the discipline to keep you going.
Don’t be like me – don’t completely give up if you miss a day. You are totally capable of gaining that momentum, even if you mess up. But what I’m trying to drill home is the importance of making a solid effort of sticking to the goal consistently. Don’t mess with the schedule. Don’t give yourself excuses. You can do anything for 4 weeks. 4 weeks of no excuses can potentially change your life if you let it.
Have you struggled with momentum in the past? What strategies do you use to get the ball rolling when you slip up?