Have you ever had one of those times in your life when you feel as if you're firing on all cylinders? You're focused, productive, and in the zone. What you're experiencing is the power of creative momentum.
Momentum is the lifeblood of any startup or creative project. Throughout the process of building a company or working on a creative project, we enter what my mentor Greg Hartle referred to as a momentum window. If you stay focused and honor your commitments, you'll make such a big leap that you'll never go back down to the same level again.
What exactly is creative momentum?
The basic definition of momentum is an object in motion stays in motion. If you've ever developed a new habit like going to the gym, you've experienced how challenging this is the start:
- It can be difficult to motivate yourself
- You might be committed to never missing a day, but you do
But the same habit which felt like a gargantuan effort on day one feels easier on day 7. Your first attempt at a daily writing habit might feel like a chore, but by day 7 you begin to leverage the power of creative momentum.
It's why James Clear encourages people to develop the identity of the person they want to become before they're able to break bad habits and build good ones.
The 4 Phases of Creative Momentum
When it comes to building and maintaining creative momentum, consistency is much more powerful than intensity. 96 percent of efforts in personal development fail because people focus on intensity.
If you've ever made a New Year's resolution to diet like a vegan hippie after being someone who loves steak, you might have experienced this failure of sticking to a new diet. Going from steak lover to vegan hippie overnight doesn't work because it's unsustainable.
On the other hand, say that you commit to eating just one brussel sprout out every meal. Then you add two next week and three the week after. By starting so small that it's impossible to fail, your transition to becoming a vegan hippie becomes more sustainable.
Once you've achieved consistency, you tap into another variable that increases the power of creative momentum You start to experience visible progress which is a force multiplier.
How you measure your life has a profound impact on your happiness. Because of that, how you track your progress matters. Most people measure their progress in relation to an outcome. So they believe they aren't making any.
If you expect your transformation from steak-eating Hindu to vegan hippie to take place over night, then you'll feel like a failure until the transformation is complete. On other the hand, if you track your daily brussel sprout consumption, you'll experience visible progress.
The byproduct of consistency and visible progress is an increase in your motivation. It's much easier to stay motivated to accomplish a goal when you feel like you're getting somewhere.
The aspiring vegan is more likely to eat Brussel sprouts on day 10 if she's eaten them on days 1 to 9. The same goes for a writer who has been writing for 100 days in a row.
People often think they lack the motivation to learn a new skill or change something about their lives. But their lack of motivation is due to inconsistent effort and lack of visible progress.
With the combination of consistency, progress, and motivation you achieve momentum. You go from being an immovable object to an unstoppable force. Instead of being an aspiring vegan, you now single-handedly increase the bottom line of the produce section at your local whole foods.
Once you achieve creative momentum, you go from idea to done faster than ever before. Your transformation leads to a ripple effect which impacts other parts of your life.
This happened to me when I developed a daily writing habit. After six months of writing 1000 words a day, my work started to resonate like it never had before. And soon after, I self-published my Wall Street Journal Best-Selling book.
Leveraging the Power of Creative Momentum in Your Own Life
Maybe you don't aspire to be a brussel sprout eating vegan hippie. Just for the record, I grew up Hindu and steak is one of my favorite meals. But I'm surrounded by white people with Sanskrit tattoos who are vegan. They're more Indian than I am. But I digress.
There are 3 simple keys to leveraging the power of creative momentum and creating sustainable behavior change in your life.
1. Take Minimum Viable Actions
A minimum viable action is something you can do that requires the least amount of effort. But it's also a step in the right direction.
Say you want to develop a writing habit. You might be tempted to write 1000 words or 3 pages. But if it's a brand new habit, this is a recipe for failure. You want to break the habit into its components and start with the smallest part.
Start by opening a notebook. Do that for as many days in a row as you can. If you can do that for 10 days in a row, you'll find your writing habit is a natural byproduct.
2. Honor Your Commitments
By honoring your commitments you teach yourself that there's truth to what you say. This is why you start with something as small as opening a notebook. It's much easier to honor a 10-second commitment than it is to spend an hour each day on something you haven't done before.
3. Measure your Progress
Unless you measure your progress, you'll lose your motivation to maintain your new habit. You can use something as simple as a whiteboard with x's on it. Or you can use a tool like Writing Analytics which lets you see graphs and charts of your progress.
The power of creative momentum is something you can use to stay motivated for long-term goals or you can apply it to your daily habits. While I used writing as an example above, this is a framework you can use to change any behavior.
Before you Go
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