The Importance of Momentum

 makelessnoise on flickr
makelessnoise on flickr

New England got its first real snowfall of the year the other day- a solid 10 inches of the heavy, wet white stuff. I have always loved snow, so even the prospect of shoveling out from under nearly a foot has never really bothered me much.

But I having just gotten over a cold, and not having slept to well in a few nights meant the prospect of a couple of hours out in the sub-freezing half-light just wasn’t too appealing this time around.

But when it comes to shoveling, we don’t really have much of a choice, do we? Well, actually, I did.

Sort of.

You see due to some bizarre wind patterns in my neighborhood, and the fact that my driveway is a pretty steep incline, the lower half is always about twice as heavy as the upper half. The way I saw it, I had two choices. I could either attack the heavy stuff while I was still fresh, or I could get some momentum going and tackle the lighter snow at the top.

I chose to get some momentum going since I knew that physically I could handle the workload, it was more a question of motivation. Or to be more precise, my lack of motivation.

Once I got into a rhythm, it wasn’t so bad. When the heavy stuff came, I could look back at over half the driveway done and feel like I was well on my way to done.

A lot of life’s projects are like this. We really can tackle just about any job, provided it is honestly within the limits of our abilities. It is more often than not just a matter of building momentum.

I realize this is not a new revelation. I haven’t rediscovered the wheel here.  Newton’s second law of motion is the law of inertia. Objects in rest tend to remain at rest. Objects in motion remain in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. In other words, once you get started it is usually easier to keep going than it is to stop.

A difficult task is rarely as hard or unpleasant as we make it out to be before we do it.

Those of you who have followed me for a while know that my day job is as an English teacher, and when I have a stack of papers to grade I employ this same strategy. Tackle the easiest ones first so that I can make a quick dent in the pile and feel good about my progress.

So the next time you are looking a big project in the face, with a hard deadline stressing you out, chose the easiest part of the project to work on. Get some wind under your wings and you’ll be surprised how quickly the rest of it will come together.

And if you happen to finish early and are looking for some extra work, I am pretty sure I’ll have some more snow to shovel.

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