I’ve never seen ANYONE succeed without it.
I’ve never seen a sporting event that wasn’t won with it.
Perhaps the greatest example was Super Bowl 51, played in Houston Texas on February 5, 2017.
Atlanta destroyed New England in the first half. First, they scored 21 unanswered points. Then New England scored 21 unanswered points. Then New England scored a field goal. It was 21-3 at the end of the second quarter.
Falcons score ANOTHER touchdown at the beginning of the 3rd quarter. It’s 28-3. No team had EVER come back from a two-touchdown deficit in the Super Bowl after the first half. They were down by 25 points.
I thought they were finished.
Then something magical happened at the end of the 3rd quarter. New England scored a touchdown. Then a field goal. And then another touchdown. And another touchdown to tie the game.
And they won it in overtime.
Tom Brady and the Patriots did what seemed like the impossible.
After the second half, Atlanta had lost IT. New England had CLAIMED IT.
I’m talking about MOMENTUM.
Momentum is one of the most precious powers you want to cultivate in all of your endeavors.
At first, building momentum is like pushing a boulder up hill. It’s tough to get the rock moving. But as soon as it starts moving, it’s easier to keep it moving.
And after awhile you get to the top of the hill and you can push it DOWNHILL. This is where you experience the MAGIC OF MOMENTUM.
It’s a beautiful thing.
Momentum is simple, you:
- Build it
- Maintain it
The rules for building momentum are very different than maintaining it.
Here’s a simple definition of momentum (for success): it’s when doing the right things become an effortless regular habit.
Wyatt Woodsmall’s Rules
I was at an Eben Pagan seminar about leadership and Wyatt Woodsmall, one of the world’s leading NLP experts was speaking. He said if you want to build a new habit, there are only two things you need to do:
- Start today
- Don’t deviate
Starting today is a MAAAAAJOR key.
“There is NO TOMORROW. There is only THE NOW.”
You want to start losing weight?
Go to your kitchen right fucking now and throw the cookies and sugar in the trash.
Get in your car and drive to the gym and join it.
Hire a trainer.
If I had a nickel for every time someone said to me, “Yeah, I’m going to start the gym soon.” “When I hit my ____ birthday, I’m going to start working out.”
Please. Let’s stop the B.S.
You’re either starting TODAY. Or don’t even talk about it.
The “Don’t deviate” part is another critical key to building momentum.
Joe Weider’s rule
When I was twelve years old, I got my first weight lifting set. It was a Joe Weider barbell set and it came with a program.
In the book, was a rule that I never forgot. It’s become one of my core keys to success.
NEVER MISS A WORKOUT.
If you miss a workout, you’ll feel it’s ok to miss another workout. So, the odds are you’ll miss another workout… and then you’ll really think it’s ok to miss workouts… and then you just stop working out.
You’ve just built a pattern in your brain that it’s ok to miss workouts.
That’s why in the beginning in the “building momentum phase” D.T.C., Discipline, Thought And Control, are your friends.
I learned D.T.C. from Frank R. Wallace. One of the most disciplined men I’ve ever heard of. He would write and edit 16 hours a day in his 70’s. If you’ve ever done intense editing before, you know it’s one of the most intense brain activities you can do.
The discipline to STOP and to DOUBLE-THINK about your decision is one of the most important habits to develop.
One thing I’ve learned is that we have VERY LITTLE CONTROL OVER OUR FIRST THOUGHT. Your brain and emotions are constantly flowing sending streams of thoughts and fleeting sensations. DON’T PAY ATTENTION TO IT.
What you have control over is: YOUR SECOND THOUGHT… your THIRD THOUGHT… your FOURTH thought…
Here’s an example: your goal is to lose weight. Today is “leg day” at the gym. The feeling of “Man I don’t feel like going to the gym today” flows through your mind. That’s a normal thought. Most people give it too much credit. They give it too much weight.
This is where you want to have the Discipline to THINK through your decision. TAKE CONTROL of your mind.
Your second thought can be: “This is where I’m going to lose the most body fat.” The third thought can be, “Doing this workout is going to build momentum.” The fourth thought can be, “If I miss today’s workout, I’m going to build the habit of not doing the hard stuff.”
That’s how you take CONTROL of your mind. By having the discipline to double-think, triple-think… play the tape forward… become clear of the consequences and then making the right choice.
That process requires WILLPOWER. And one of the most important discoveries we’ve made in the last decade is that willpower is a limited resource.
You don’t want to be relying on willpower all the time. Eventually, you’ll hit 0 in your willpower bank account and when that happens it’s OVER. People quit because they’ve got no more gas in the tank.
That’s why I’m a HUGE BELIEVER in creating an environment of inevitable success. Where the tools, people, and technologies that surround me UPLIFT ME towards my goals.
The Truth About Habits
“Remember the foundation of momentum is when doing the right things become an effortless regular habit.”
There is a common myth most people believe about habits, “It takes 21 days to build a new habit”.
This was started by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. He was a plastic surgeon in the 1950s.
He found that it would take his patients about 21 days for them to adjust to their surgeries. He went to publish this “finding” in his bestselling book Psycho-Cybernetics (which has sold over 30 million copies).
More recent research has debunked this.
How Long it Really Takes to Build a New Habit
Phillippa Lally is a health psychology researcher at University College London. She decided to find out how long it really takes to form a habit.
The study followed the habits of 96 people over a 12-week period. Each person picked one new habit for the 12 weeks and reported each day on whether or not they did the behavior and how effortless the behavior felt.
Some people chose simple habits like “drinking a bottle of water with lunch.” Others chose more difficult tasks like “running for 15 minutes before dinner.”
The researchers analyzed the data to determine how long it took each person to go from starting a new behavior to automatically doing it.
On average, it takes 66 days to build a new habit. And for a tougher habit, it can take up to 254 days.
The more foreign something is to your natural tendencies, the longer it will take.
Personally, I’ve been working on going to bed earlier for the last 2 years. I’m STILL struggling with it. I’m better. I used to go to bed around 2 am. I’m probably down to 12:30 am average. The goal is to get down to 11 pm.
What should you do when you deviate?
NEVER BEAT YOURSELF UP
For most of my life, I was my toughest critic. It started when I was in school. I was always competing for the top spot for grades and when it wasn’t perfect, my father pushed me. I know he had the best of intentions. However, that kickstarted a defect of perfectionism.
My first step to recover from perfectionism was at a workshop by my friend Michael Skye. He taught me “action over perfection”. It was one of the most powerful shifts I’ve ever experienced.
I later tweaked that to “Taking action while moving towards Perfection”.
I also remind myself often that I’m NOT a Saint. I’m human. I’m going to make mistakes.
Instead of seeing mistakes as a mistake… I see them as part of the process.
I’ve stopped beating myself up.
Deviate on my way to building a new habit? That’s normal. It’s part of the journey.
After I forgave myself for all my transgressions, I had nothing to beat myself up about. It’s an incredible sense of freedom.
BECOME A LAS VEGAS CASINO
I was blessed to see Vegas the first few times with a friend of mine who had studied casino marketing.
It was an eye-opening experience, to say the least.
Most people think “The casinos win because they have a mathematical edge at the tables.” Yes this is true, but that is just ONE of their edges.
Las Vegas stacks hundreds of edges on top of each other giving them an almost unbeatable advantage.
– The casinos have world class attractions designed to pull you into it.
– People get distracted by the beauty, opulence and epicness that’s inside.
– They pump oxygen inside the casinos to keep people alert.
– They give free alcohol to dumb down the senses so people make bad decisions.
– There’s no clocks or windows so you lose sense of time.
– They bury the bathrooms and buffets so you have to walk in front of the machines.
– The carpets are designed to be ugly, so your eyes lift up to see the machines.
– The tone and sounds of the machines is C-major, the most pleasant to the human ear.
– The cleavage of the waitresses become distractions that affect “clear thinking”.
I can go on and on…
The point is this: THINK LIKE A CASINO.
Stack the advantages in your favor.
When I want to build a new habit or start something new, I stack EVERY POSSIBLE ADVANTAGE in my favor.
Because it’s DAMN hard for people to change.
So my goal is to make DAMN EASY by layering every edge I can get.
Here’s some of the best tools I’ve found that I leverage every chance I get:
Coaching is one of the most powerful tools anyone can build.
At the moment, I have 3 coaches. I have someone you could call a “life coach”. I have a fitness coach and a health coach. At different times, I’ve had many businesses, copywriting and marketing coaches.
A coach is there to help you work through your challenges.
They help solve your problems. They inspire you. The motivate you. They push you. They challenge you. They support you. They kick your ass when you need it. They call you on your bullshit. They love you when you’re down.
Finding the right coach when you’re working on building momentum is probably the smartest decision and investment you can do.
You want to get back in the gym? Hire a personal trainer.
You want to build a business? Hire a successful business coach.
There’s not a single professional athlete that doesn’t have at least one coach. Most of them have multiple coaches.
If you can’t afford a coach, the next best thing is…
An accountability buddy
For a long time, I had the “lone wolf” mentality. At some point in my life, I thought that I was stronger and more powerful if I “did things myself”. Now I realize, I was just ego-driven and foolish.
Doing things with others is one of the most powerful leverages you can have.
Want to go to the gym? Train with someone.
Want to build a business? Get a business partner.
There are some critical caveats.
Ideally, don’t choose someone that hasn’t already built momentum.
Choosing a workout buddy with someone that hasn’t built an unbreakable habit of doing to the gym can be a recipe for failure. Because if your workout partner misses a workout or can’t make it, it’s a way out for you to not go.
Again, in a perfect world choose someone that IS WHO YOU WANT TO BE.
The Power of Groups
Another variation of this is GROUPS. There are over a hundred different 12-step movements that have been built upon this life-changing structure.
Being part of a group of people that share the same struggle as you do is indispensable. You realize you’re not alone. You realize that others with the same problems were able to change. You’re understood. You get to share your pain in a safe place. And one thing I’ve learned is that when you share your pain, it cuts it in half.
The Power of Small Wins
This is a BIG ONE (no pun intended): structuring your program in a way that you feel wins with every small victory.
Want to start exercising? Start with the LEAST AMOUNT that you can handle without feeling tension about it. Is it 5 minutes of walking? That’s awesome. Start there. Is it going to the gym and doing 10 sets of machines? Cool. That’s a big win.
Want to start meditating? Start with 5 minutes. You can handle that.
Want to eat better? Start with changing 1 meal.
The BIGGEST MISTAKE I see people do is they want to go from ZERO to HERO overnight. They spend their entire “willpower bank account” in the first couple of weeks and then they’re “bankrupt”. Game over.
In the beginning, your goal is simple: BUILD MOMENTUM.
That means, start with SMALL WINS. And CHERISH THOSE WINS.
Actively appreciate them. Feel a genuine sense of gratitude for your small victories. Walked around the block today? GREAT. FEEL GOOD ABOUT IT.
Why is feeling good so critical?
Because we want to tell our brains that IT’S A GOOD THING. Then your brain will start working on your behalf. Your brain will start rewiring itself. Those small victories give your brain some vital dopamine hits. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter of your reward system. Leverage it to build momentum.
RAMP UP SLOWLY!
Now that you’ve started. Now that you’ve got a few “small wins” under your belt. Start ramping up. SLOWWWWWWLY.
Don’t go from 5 minutes of meditation to 60. Go from 5 to 10 mins.
Go from 10 sets of exercises to 12 sets. Increase the weight on some exercises by 5 or 10 lbs.
Your goal is to make the increase as PAINLESS as possible.
Every time you add more activity, FEEL GREAT ABOUT IT. Activate your gratitude. Keep feeding the reward system in your brain.
And please… don’t compare yourself to your heroes. That’s a surefire recipe for beating yourself up.
Don’t compare your workouts with the pros. Don’t compare your meditation with a zen master.
Instead, compare YOUR TODAYS with your YESTERDAYS. Appreciate how far you’ve come vs. looking at where you could be.
Look back at where you were a month ago… 2 months ago… 3 months ago and cherish the gains you’ve made.
As you can see, 95% of this article was about BUILDING momentum because that’s the hardest part.
The great news is: that maintaining momentum requires 20% of the energy that building does.
From experience, I can tell you that it’s about 5 times easier to maintain muscle mass than it is to build it.
The same goes for weight loss, business, relationships…
Yes, they require energy and effort, but it’s a fraction of the “building phase”.
The key word is:
I’m always aware that I can go from hero to zero REAL FAST. I can destroy 3 months of hard work in the gym in about 2 weeks.
People can destroy a 10-year relationship with one bad decision.
People can wipe out 30 years of sobriety in seconds.
The key is to install a “vigilance software” in your brain. It’s an ever-present, low-level awareness of the consequences of going off track.
It’s always making sure you’re protecting your habits. Remember Joe Weider’s rule: NEVER MISS A WORKOUT.
Yes after several years of consistency, it’s harder NOT to go the gym than it is to go. That being said, if I stay away for a week, that could easily lead to a month… and then years.
ALWAYS BE STRIVING
There is incredible power in having a powerful vision… a compelling goal.
The key is to have the next vision lined up even BEFORE the first one is achieved.
When I was a personal trainer, I saw countless people hit their goals and then they became rudderless and started drifting because they didn’t have a NEW goal. They often regressed back to their old ways and regained the weight.
Striving is a normal part of human nature once you unlock and harness your inner drive.
Striving keeps the momentum alive.
There is always another level.
Be grateful for where you are right now while moving towards the future you.