Momentum, a noun that means ‘the ability to keep increasing or developing’ or the force that makes something move faster and faster.
2020. As I reflect upon the year that’s gone by, I don’t know if I have any words left that have not been used to describe the events that unfolded in the year of the pandemic. Coming into 2020, we understood the term VUCA - Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous - but what played out in 2020, makes the word VUCA seem like a weak adjective to define the state of things.
Can you imagine the reaction I would have received if I would have shared any of the following statements with you in January 2020?
1. For three months, we will be put on house arrest. Lockdown.
2. Your whole workforce will ‘Work from Home’ for most of the year.
3. Our children will attend school on Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
4. We will follow social distancing.
How does one recover from a year like that? Many jobs lost, business dynamics shifted, the lines between personal and professional have been blurred. I was speaking to a friend sometime back and she made a powerful statement. She said that for her, January seems like the 13th month of 2020. Come to think of it, true, isn’t it?
But as we step into 2021 we need to understand that anything can happen this year. Just like you and I were unable to predict the events of 2020, this year also might have its own surprises to share. In a way, we are aligned that we cannot control much on the outside. We can’t stop events from unfolding the way they intend to. If we cannot control the outside then what do we control?
Viktor Frankl, an Austrian Psychiatrist, Neurologist, Philosopher and Holocaust survivor, a person who I admire and learn from, in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
The onus lies with us. Each individual, each team and each organization - how do we want to react in this moment and in moments to come. In my study of human behavior and work with clients, I have found that there are specific mindsets that help us ‘Build Momentum’. What are those shifts that we need to make right now?
Let’s go through a visualization. Do you remember going onto a swing in your childhood? The one where you sit on a seat that is tied with two chains to a bar high above. Now if you have to enjoy the activity, you need to sit on the swing and start pushing with your feet. A few pushes and you are swinging in the air, enjoying the whole experience of being there in that moment. The momentum will keep you going for sometime and then you push again. If you are slowing down, someone from the outside can give you a push and keep you going.
I am sure that if you are reading this and are focused on some area of your life where you want to grow and move forward. Whether you are writing a book, finding a new job, building a business of your own, creating a personal brand, returning to the office or taking care of your family, you want to make progress. It is important to you. You have embarked upon this journey because it positively impacts you and your loved ones. You aspire to achieve something in the next quarter or the half-year.
To build momentum and grow through 2021, we all need to start moving. I know it sounds simple but believe me, to move in the right direction with the right intention and the right amount of force needs practice. I am giving you an applicable framework but the hard work of putting your situation within this framework or simply get inspired by this framework is something that you need to own.
Here are five steps to help you build momentum.
Step 1 - Aware
The first step is to be ‘Aware’ of who you are and your connections with the outside world. Having an awareness of who you are, who you can become, and of the environment and what you need from it sets you on a path of self-discovery. It is not a power destined to a few but there are scientific and behavioral principles that you can put into practice and become more aware of the inside and the outside.
Step 2 - Accept
Once you have the awareness, ‘Accept’ your strengths and weaknesses. Accept the fact that change is possible and you too can change. The beauty of the world lies in not looking for perfection, but in embracing the flaws and the imperfections.
The larger shift that we are seeking here is the belief that if you set your mind onto something, you will achieve it. It might take different time for each person to define and realize their goals, but it is critical that you take the first step.
Step 3 - Act
Once you have pictured a goal for yourself it is time to make sure that you put things into action. I would say this is the most important step. Just like in the swing example, you had to push to make it move, in life too, you have to ‘act’ to make anything happen. It is when the rubber meets the road that your values get tested, your acceptance and awareness come into play to either serve you or play against you.
Step 4 - Accelerate
Once you start to move, it is to time ‘accelerate’ your growth and drive impact for yourself and for your organization. You can accelerate by making wise choices and putting things into practice every single day, whether you have the energy or not.
Step 5 - Achieve
As in the example of the swing, the external force or your own nudge was repeatedly needed to keep you moving. The same goes for life. To keep up the momentum and achieve your goals, and maintain the equilibrium between your mind, body and spirit,
you need to keep nudging. Either create daily moments or find an accountability partner, you will need the external push to achieve what you set out to do.
Pause right now and set an intention for your life. We have all heard the age-old saying, Go with the Flow, but to build momentum in these ever-changing conditions, you need to set the intention.
Steve Jobs once said, “Simple can be harder than complex.”, and it is true in many ways, Building Momentum in this post-pandemic year and beyond is critical and you are the creator of your story. Write it well.