Using Momentum to Motivate Yourself

I have trouble getting started. I have trouble getting out of bed. I have trouble motivating myself to work out. I have an army’s worth of resistance to doing almost anything. I have always been like this, and I do not know why.

A few years ago I was at the annual Christmas eve party of a friend and was having a wonderful time with all their wonderful guests. It is truly my favourite gathering of the year and there is this one woman there every year that I get into these heavy life discussions with. Without fail. We are close in age but the dynamic between us is more of a niece and super cool aunt giving big and much needed life advice.
So she asks me, this one year,”Well, what do you want out of your life right now? Like really want? Now.”
I wasn’t sure how to answer, but thanks to a few glasses of wine the words rolled off my tongue, “Um..well..I want to get the things that I think about doing, going…get them out of my head and into the world, get my ideas on paper, my projects going and also, start working out, but I can’t get myself to do these any of these things.”
She thought about it for a moment or two and then said,


“Okay, yup, momentum,” I responded,”I suppose I get what you’re saying….?,”
“That is your word of the year….. Momentum…. Think of one sit-up. What do you think of one sit up? Could you do one sit up a day?,” she asked me.
“Yes,” I half laughed, half scoffed,”I think I can manage ONE sit up a day.”
“Good,” she said, “Do one sit up a day and see if you can do that.”
“Okay, now I am a bit lost,” I said,” I know I can do one sit up a day, so how is that going to help me get going?”
“Well, my dear, firstly, you won’t do one sit up a day, I guarantee it, and secondly, think of it as a literal metaphor for your life.”
“GOOD LORD, I am so confused,” I was feeling a little frustrated,”I just said I could totally do one sit up a day, and now you’re saying I won’t…and it’s a metaphor…and a guarantee???”
She laughed, “Yes, I guarantee you won’t do one sit up. Once you have lain yourself on the floor and propelled and inspired yourself to do that ONE sit up, I guarantee you’ll do more. Maybe not 500, but probably 10, and if you do 10 you’ll most likely do 50, but you won’t do any, unless you do that one. MOMENTUM, darling. Get started with a keepable commitment and see what happens.”

Of course she was right. I went from not working out at all, except walking my dogs, to running or going to the gym 4 times a week, and, yes doing about 50 sit ups when I promise myself to only do one.

What I would love you to examine is, in a way, tricking yourself into getting more out of your life by promising yourself you’ll do the minimum. It sounds silly, but it really works and we all have little or big areas of out lives that we need to get started on.

Momentum, people, momentum.

I am a pretty smart lady, I went to some pretty great schools, and I also have some traits that are detrimental to my own progress. The life “force” within me is not easy to harness, but I can make little promises. Tiny little promises, to do one sit up, or write the first sentence to a blog, or read one page of that book I have been wanting to read. Mostly you will not be able to do just one, you will find yourself doing much more.
I don’t always succeed. Sometimes I just write only the title of a blog, yeah, just the title, and I save the document with just a title on it. Sometimes I meditate for only 3 minutes. Sometimes I do just one sit up, and on those days I laugh and remember our conversation and see how much I have accomplished in my life in the past few years because of her guarantee that I wouldn’t do ONE sit-up.


By Jessica Olson