I’m in the process of getting back on the “personal development” train that I drove here on SBYB for so long. It’s tough! There are many things that I did in the past (practice daily affirmations, reading positive development books every night before going to bed, etc.) that helped me cultivate the attitude that I needed to become a better person. I’ve been slacking on all that stuff. It always has been on my mind, but as more and more days have compounded where I’ve not taken any positive steps to become a better person, it becomes harder to get back in the habit.
It’s really very much like the difference between hopping on a train that’s just pulling away from the platform, versus trying to hop on that same train when it’s a top speed, running through the open prairie. One can be a little tricky, but is generally accepted to be much easier to do than the other.
And here’s where we come to momentum. I think most people in my situation would say that I’ve lost all my “personal development” momentum. All the wind has gone out of my sails. And they’d be right, to a certain extent.
But in a very real other sense, they’d be incorrect. All the momentum hasn’t gone from my life. Unfortunately, it’s the momentum of entropy that’s taken over in my life. The train of laziness and apathy is definitely up to speed. And while I don’t feel like I’ve really been doing anything at all of note for the past while (hence it being the train of laziness and apathy), in a very real way, I’ve been in the boiler car shoveling coal into the engine at an alarming rate.
Alright, enough with the train metaphor.
Momentum works in both directions, I think. It’s very difficult to get started when you’ve previously established habits that are no longer how you wish to act. And contrary to common sense, that works both ways. When I began to let my good habits slide, I really noticed for the first few times. I’d have a tough time going to sleep (for instance), knowing that I hadn’t done the reading that I normally did every night. But as that momentum began to build and build, it became tougher and tougher for me to reverse course, and head back to my self-improving ways.
So, it’s obviously important to build momentum. It’s crucial to continue to daily reinforce habits that you wish to cultivate, and choke off ones that you’d rather not. But it’s necessary to remember that you’re building momentum regardless of what you’re doing. Whether it’s developing positive habits, or negative ones, you are developing habits.
Eventually, that train that you worked so hard to get moving out of the station in the beginning will take you to the end of the track at top speed. You just have to make sure you’re on the right track.