Can we change our momentum?


A 300-year-old supernova remnant created by the explosion of a massive star.

Original Post date: 14 September 2015

“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”

This morning I opened up my email to see this quote, from one of my favorite books, sitting in my inbox. The book is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, and it’s on the list of top five books that I recommend to people, especially for artists as you may tell from the title.

The email was from the Five Minute Journal mailing list. I like the 5MJ and I’m sure I’ll talk about it more in later posts, but that email got me rethinking all the lessons that I’d learned and forgotten from The War of Art.

The Resistance can be such a strong force, whether it be in the form of procrastination, excuses, or laziness. But alongside the Resistance, fueling it with vicious high octane gasoline is our momentum.

What I mean is all the inertia built up from past decisions and events in our lives that have lead us to the place where we currently are.

It’s not a new idea, and I’ve heard it many times in podcasts, and read about it in blogs and books, but it never really clicked for me until I said it out loud during a phone call with my mom.

She was worried that I was going to burn out when I told her about my daily schedule, which involves waking up at 5:00 am to study and workout before “starting the day.” To which I replied:

It takes a lot of energy to change the course of momentum, it’s just like physics. The more time we spend on a course, the more inertia builds up, and the more energy is required to change, or even reverse that course.

That’s when it really hit me. It’s easy to keep doing what we’re doing; staying in that job that we suffer if only to savor the fleeting moments of the weekend, keeping that relationship alive long after the passionate fires have gone out. It takes energy and you’re going to get tired, but you have to keep going because that’s what it takes to make a major change.

It’s easy to make excuses or rationalize and say:

“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”

I get it, but what if you don’t like lemonade? Can’t you figure out a way to trade for some strawberries?

“Work is work, it’s not supposed to be fun.”

“My boss sucks, but what are you gonna do?”

“Gotta put in your dues until you can rise up the company ladder.”

I don’t buy it.

It’s slightly less easy to make small, incremental changes that move us towards our goals. They will maybe help in the long term, but they aren’t powerful enough to completely derail you from a the life we live and get you to the unlived life within us.

No. Small incremental changes are OK for adjustments, but it takes an explosion of energy to stop the mess of objects flying through space that we call “our life.” And then it takes megatons of thrust to push it all in a different direction, toward where we’d rather be going.

“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.” ~ Jerry Rice

Do today what others won’t. Wake up early. MAKE TIME, even when you don’t have it. Turn off the TV, phone, Facebook, Periscope, just stop. Is it helping you move towards where you want to be? Momentum is hard enough to break without all the distraction. Go for your morning run even when you feel tired. Wake up when the alarm goes off, don’t hit the snooze button. Focus on what’s really important.

These things are hard, they take a lot of energy and focus, but each time you make the decision to push, to stand up, to fight against the Resistance and push back on the momentum that’s carrying you to a place you don’t want to be, you take it’s power and start to build a new positive momentum that will up build speed until you can’t even remember that other place you were going before. This is the point in time and space where the two lives become one and the Resistance cowers back into the shadows.


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