How to Keep the Momentum Going If You’re Lazy

There’s a cheat code for the lazies.

Photo by Brina Blum on Unsplash

Have you ever start practicing a life-changing habit for a week, only to find yourself not doing it at all on the eighth day?

Then, you start to get angry at yourself for not doing it even if you want to.

And then you get angry at yourself for getting angry at yourself.

Now you’re Mad Max.

Shit.

Come on, what’s the magic word to make all this disappear?

Oh yes.

That’s it.

Later.

I’ll do it later.

Ah, everyone’s favorite word.

Let me tell you what later is.

The Neverland

Later is an enemy. Her raison d’etre is to bring you to Neverland — a place where everyone’s hopes and dreams are, and stay — buried. In this place, there’s a grave with your name on it — your aspirations buried within it.

There’s no other way to escape Neverland other than digging out your grave. But to do so requires perseverance, unshakable will, and a trusted friend. If you skip digging for a day, the dirt will pile up even more than yesterday when you return the next day.

Most people start their life journey of digging out their graves as if they’re in a race — including you.

At first, you devote your heart and soul to it — but only for some numbered days. When your hands start to get a little tired, you look for a cure.

With impeccable timing, Later visits you and tells you she’s the cure. Just like the Devil, she’ll whisper sweet-nothings and make promises to you that you have all the time in the world — that you’re immortal.

Her words sound like music to your ears. You’re tempted by her allure. You start to believe she’s your savior.

But she’s not. She’s a sinister being, a faux cure. She’s the right-hand man to the ruler of Neverland: Never.

But the good news is, not everything will try to break you apart, even in Neverland. There’s always a light in the dark. A silver lining in the cloud.

Once in a blue moon, life will send an ally, Motivation — to be your guiding light. He’ll offer you his help. Together, the two of you start digging the grave, night and day— only stopping when the body demands a break.

But one day, as always — he disappeared. And so, like a falling domino, your endeavor ends too. You throw in the towel and wave the white flag to Later, again.

You tell yourself when he — Motivation comes back, you’ll start digging again. And he will. But his helping hand is ephemeral — he never stays long, and he comes and goes as he pleases.

Your life is a series of waiting for Motivation to come, and, submitting to Later when he’s absent. But know this; if you only wait for Motivation to act, to change — I promise you, you’ll die with your aspirations buried in Neverland.

Motivation is an unreliable friend.

Later is your nemesis disguised as your savior.

So then, who’s my Guardian Angel? You wondered.

Momentum.

He’s called Momentum.

But be wary, he can be the Devil too.

Momentum: Your Guardian Angel (or the Devil).

Photo by Ava Sol on Unsplash

Who or what is Momentum? Is he my Guardian Angel or is he the Devil? Why are you explaining this concept as if you’re writing a Bible? (ahem, I’ll just ignore this one)

Let me ask you a question.

How many days have you started doing it?

A day? Two days? A week? A month?

Right.

And, how many days you didn’t?

A day? Two days? A week? A month?

Wrong.

It’s much more than that. How long have you lived without doing it? That’s how many days you didn’t do it. And that’s how much momentum you’ve garnered for your inaction.

Imagine thinking a few weeks of trying can change your life. You’ve lived almost your entire life without doing it. You’ve gathered that much momentum in your life. Momentum has been the Devil all this time.

Do you think in just a week or two he’ll be your Guardian Angel? Absolutely not.

So then, are you fucked? Absolutely not.

Why not?

Because Momentum prefers to be your Guardian Angel. He approves it more when you do a noble act. He smiles and nods when you live life with virtues instead of vices. It takes much, much quicker for him to be Good from Bad, rather than to be Bad from Good.

And why is that so?

Because you were born to be Good. You were born to Love. You were born to be Honest. You were born to become a Legend.

Yes, you.

Am I talking out of my ass? Maybe. But you can’t deny that deep down you know that you have it in you.

You know you’re capable of digging out your grave and fly with your hopes and dreams.

You know you can escape Neverland.

You know you can soar up to the sky into the clouds, like a bird.

All you have to do is get Momentum on your side — the good one.

But, what if I’m the laziest person in the world?

First, you’re not. You would’ve starved yourself to death if you’re that lazy.

Second, there’s a way — a cheat code for lazy people like me and you. But first, you must change your belief. You must forsake the All or Nothing mindset.

The All or Nothing Mindset

Two years ago, I set out on a goal to have a body like Zac Efron. So naturally, I start planning how often I should work out in the gym in a week, and how much I should eat in a day. I ended up with five times a week, eating four times a day. It lasts for a week.

The week after, I ended up finishing six seasons of How I Met Your Mother on Netflix, eating bags of chips for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Nowadays, I’m at the gym five times a week for six months straight. My weight has gone up from 127 pounds to 164 pounds.

I’m on a roll baby, with Momentum as my Guardian Angel.

So, what changed?

First, let me tell you what went wrong the first time.

The first time I started working out, I have this mindset of it’s either all or nothing. It’s either I’m working out an hour day, for five times a week or none at all. Zero.

You do it too.

  • How many times have you set out to run five km every morning, only not to step out of your house at all the next day?
  • How many times have you told yourself that you need to cut out the sugar entirely, but ended up drinking Milk Teas and eating Kit Kats the next day?

The problem here is we have this all or nothing mindset. You tell yourself if you’re not going hard at it, then it’s better not do it at all.

We look at the top performers, the cream of the crop, the elites of the elites — and we have this baseless fantasy that if we want to be like them, we must give 100 percent, hustle every hour for every single day, to that one cause.

Don’t get me wrong, if you’re capable of doing it — then, by all means, do it. But most people can’t. If you’re like me, some days you can’t be arsed to do it. Some days, I’m sure as hell don’t feel like writing a single word.

Steven Pressfield, the author of The War of Art endures the same thing too. Every day he wakes up, he’ll face his archenemy. He calls it the Resistance.

“I go to sleep content, but my final thought is to Resistance. I will wake with it tomorrow. Already I am steeling myself.” — Steven Pressfield in the War of Art

People at the top — sometimes, shit happens to them too. Life gets in their way too. And, they get lazy too. Of course they would — they’re human, like us.

So, what do they do when they face the Resistance? What magic potion did they drink? Is there a pact with the Devil required?

None of those. Hell, I’d be willing to make a pact with the devil Himself if that’s what it takes to achieve greatness.

It’s something much, much more boring than that.

The only difference between you and them is that even when they don’t feel like doing it, they show up.

If you‘d like to have Momentum as your sidekick — you must show up every day as if your life depends on it.

Victories in the Smaller Actions

Photo by J E W E L M I T CH E L L on Unsplash

To get the white-winged Momentum (and not the red, two-horned Momentum) by your side, you have to cheat the system sometimes.

That’s what I did the second time I started going to the gym.

There are some days I had to drag my legs to the gym even if my body, heart, and soul begged me not to go. And even if I’m at the gym, some days I’ll do four sets of squat, and head back. Hell, sometimes I’ll do a few sets of bicep curls and call it a day.

But here’s the thing. Even if I’m at the gym for five minutes or less than that, I still showed up. And I still keep the momentum going the way I want. Sure, I can do better than five minutes, but it’s better to show up for a few minutes than not to show up at all.

It’s still a win for me.

Think about it, something is always better than nothing.

If you only have two choices right now:

  1. Go for a walk around the block.
  2. Don’t go and continue dilly-dallying at home.

It’s obvious which one to choose.

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” — Confucius

No matter how trivial the action is, do it. If you can’t do the big thing, do the smaller version of it.

Show up.

Get your wins in the little things.

Once you have the right momentum going for you, the bigger thing will no longer seem like a mirage. Believe me, momentum is everything. One day you’ll do the big thing without planning to because of the momentum you’ve cumulated throughout.

Try this: Read a few sentences of a book every day. Do this for a month. I shit you not — once you get the momentum going, you’ll find yourself reading an entire chapter in one sitting. But the key here is, you have to show up every day.

If you can’t even show up, how the hell do you expect yourself to finish the bigger task?

When you feel like skipping everything all together, tell yourself this:

  • It’s okay if I only write a sentence.
  • It’s okay if I only put on my workout clothes.
  • It’s okay if I have greens in my meal without eating them.

But you have to do it every day.

Show up, every day.

Be victorious in the smaller actions (or inactions) every day.

Anything is better than zero. Anything at all.

“People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed. Similarly, when someone is failing, the tendency is to get on a downward spiral that can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy.” — Tony Robbins

The question is, which one are you going to keep by your side?

The Angel, or the Devil?

Thanks for reading.

Math grad. Writer.

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