Static Friction

Momentum is very powerful. Building up steam.

Have you ever had to push something very heavy, maybe a piece of furniture or something, and you had that moment where you had to “just get it started?” That initial first push to get it moving that took a lot of effort, but then it seemed easier to keep going?

Guess what? It WAS easier! One of my favorite “learning memories” was when I learned about Static Friction versus Kinetic Friction. If you don’t know, here’s the quick-and-dirty: Static Friction is the force that acts against a stationary object, making it hard to move. Kinetic Friction is the force that against against a moving object, making it hard to move. But Kinetic Friction is weaker than Static Friction! So it’s not just in your head – it actually does require more force to start pushing that couch than it does to keep it in motion once you’ve got it started.

There’s a huge life lesson in there. It can be hard to start stuff, but it’s easier to continue stuff. The problem most people face is that they make it really difficult for themselves to start stuff.

Last year I lost 40 pounds. I’ve kept it off, too, and I’m pretty proud of myself. But I’d been trying for a long time and failing. What did I change? I stopped trying to lose 40 pounds. Instead, I decided to lose 1 pound, in one week.

One pound is SO EASY to lose. Skip one dessert and take the stairs instead of the elevator for a week and you’ll lose a pound. Drink water. But once you lose that pound, you’re so happy! And you’re also saying, “wow, that was super easy. I can do that again.” So I lost another pound. I never, ever let myself think about the total weight I wanted to lose. I just said, “one pound, each week.” And I plateaued after around 40 pounds of loss, and I feel great.

When you build up these great big barriers for yourself, you increase your Static Friction. It’s hard to lose 40 pounds, but it’s easy to lose 1. And once you lose one, now you don’t have to “start” losing weight any more. You just keep losing weight, which is way easier. Try running. Put on your sneakers and say, “I’m going to run to the end of my driveway.” That’s a super short goal, it’s not daunting at all. But here’s what will happen: You’ll run to the end of your driveway, and you won’t want to stop. You’ll keep going until you want to stop, and that will be fine, because you already demolished your goal.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by a huge to-do list? Take just one item on it, and say “I’m just going to do this one thing today. That’s it, just the one.” Then you’ll do it, feel great about yourself, and you’ll just say “Weeeeellll, okay I can do one more.” And then before you know it the whole list will be gone. Instead of climbing out of a hole just to get to ground level, you’ll be triumphantly scaling a mountain to see to the beautiful horizon.

Get that momentum going!

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