Have you ever noticed when momentum shifts in a sporting event? I was watching the Buffalo Bills vs. the Houston Texans football game and you could see the momentum shift. For the first three quarters, the Bills were dominating both sides of the ball. They were winning 16-0 and have complete control of the game. Then there was a sack by the Houston Texans close to the end of the third quarter that changed the game. The Texans offense then capitalized on the momentum shift by scoring their first touchdown on their next position. From there the Texans would score a total of 19 unanswered points and go from losing 16-0 to winning 19-16 in a span of eight minutes.
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Momentum is a part of life
Momentum is easy to notice in sports, but it is actually a part of everyday life. You can create momentum the same way the Texans did and turn a losing effort into a significant win. The first thing you will notice is that momentum requires consistent and steady action on your part. In sports, your offense is attempting to score on each position; they have just been unsuccessful up to this point. The mistake many of us make is we give up or change course too early. You have to put in the proper amount of time to allow yourself the opportunity to build momentum.
For instance, imagine you were on the job market looking for work. You fill out a dozen job applications every day and do not get a single call-back. Then after 45-days of consistent effort, you get your first interview. A few days after that, you get another call back and are offered an interview with another company. The first company offers you a job and then right when you are about to accept that job the second company calls you and says you are a finalist and they want to bring you back in for another interview.
What is the best case scenario?
In the back of your mind, you are thinking about how long it took for you to get the first interview, so you don’t want to risk losing that opportunity. The mistake you are making is you are assuming the worst will happen without ever considering the best case scenario.
The thing about sports that makes it easy to recognize momentum is the fact that you have to keep playing. It doesn’t matter that you just scored on your last possession, you have to go back out and try to score again until the clock hits zero. In the real world, there is no clock, so you have the option to end the game at any time. Oftentimes, this means you leave the game at the first sign of momentum building. Which puts an end to your momentum with the lowest payoff.
Take risks and bet on yourself
Whether you would have decided to interview for the second position, negotiated a higher salary or more vacation days with the first offer; you sold yourself short. The goal is for you to capitalize on the momentum you have built. You have taken a considerable amount of action to get yourself in the position to succeed; the least you can do is allow the process to play out. The key is to recognize that you did not get lucky with the first job offer; you earned it by putting in the work. All of those applications where no one called you back created the job offer down the road.
This is important to recognize because it means you can follow the same process and create new job opportunities in the future. In other words, stop thinking you are lucky to get the offer and start thinking, they are lucky you are available for hire. When you recognize your value, then you operate from a position of strength and the whole process goes much smoother.
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To build momentum, you need to:
1. Take consistent action.
You don’t need to change anything to maintain the life you currently have. To change your life, you need to take small steps toward your goal each day. I know there are people out there who say seven day this or twenty day that, but if you are serious about changing your life you need to commit to doing something every day that brings you one step closer to your goal.
The key to accomplishing this is to make sure you are setting a small, reasonable step you can take each day. If you want to work out more, instead of planning to work out 2-hours a day, commit to 20 minutes. Instead of planning to go to the gym everyday, it may be more reasonable to plan to walk around the office a few days a week and then go to the gym twice a week. The goal is to make sure you are allowing yourself the highest possibly of success. Do not fall into the trap of wanting to set such an audacious timeline that you cannot maintain your process for longer than a month.
2. Make adjustments as you receive feedback
Fear tends to cause you to worry to the point you are unwilling to take action. Instead of requiring yourself to know everything ahead of time, allow yourself to learn through action. No matter how long you play mental gymnastics, you are not going to know everything. The best way to learn is to take steps toward your desired goal and then adjust as you learn more.
You don’t want to be the person who spends months creating a product to later find out no-one is interested in your product. Instead, create the most viable product and test your hypothesis in the real world. This way you get out of your head and into the real world. You are going to find what you thought is not exactly what people are looking for, but that is to be expected.
In the job search example we discussed earlier, you may realize that recruiters are using key word search programs that is keeping your resume from being reviewed. With this new information, you start to tailor each resume to the job title you are applying.
3. Reward yourself along the way.
You remember when you were a kid in school and your teacher would ask the class questions to increase participation? When the students were reluctant to raise their hand, the teacher would often bring a bag of candy to reward the kids who would answer the questions. I know for me, when candy was introduced, it dramatically increased the likelihood I would answer the question. I went from thinking, ‘I may embarrass myself if I don’t know the answer’ to, ‘lets get some candy’. By offering rewards, my teacher gamified the class discussion. As I answered more questions, I received a greater reward.
You are going to apply this same logic to your life. Whatever changes you are looking to make in your life, you are going to need to reward yourself periodically. Just like your favorite game, they don’t wait until the end to reward you. You are going to receive small rewards along the way. This increases the chance of you continuing to play the game. Don’t make the mistake of only celebrating when you finish the journey. This makes it difficult for your mind to be excited about your journey because it believes anything but finished is a failure.
We each want to feel like we are progressing and growing. If you do not allow yourself that feeling, it is going to be difficult for you to maintain your momentum.
In order to build momentum, you must be willing to take action, make adjustments, and reward yourself. Once you have successfully built your momentum, continue to follow the same process. Do not make the mistake of stopping at your first success. You have build momentum, now it is time to multiply your successes.
Until next time,
Dre ‘Living the achojah life‘ Griggs