The Insidious Enabler and Derailer - Momentum

Updated: Mar 15


The true high one feels when you are on a winning streak, whether that be in sports or business, is unlike no other. It fosters confidence, gives us energy, and creates powerful momentum. It often becomes more intense with time and more successful. The feeling and idea of momentum can feel elusive – like trying to harness lightning in a bottle. There are some good tricks on how to create it and regain it and much written on how to do that. A few suggestions will be at the end of this article. But the purpose of this article is about how to keep it when you have it.


Losing momentum often comes with some form of stopping. We take a vacation at work, for example. Look at sports teams and what happens when they have a “rest week.” If you track the New England Patriots, you should note that after their “bye” week, their week off in the NFL schedule, they never mentally came back. They never came back after the time off. The same happened with the Green Bay Packers after having a week off before the playoff game, a week that was an award because they were the top seed.


Momentum is hard to get, harder to keep, and most difficult when you walk away from your clear purpose, even for a short time. The power of momentum is being solely focused on winning or being successful, which translates into confidence. The confidence often brings the mindset that extends the winning and continues to create the focus.


The big question is how to keep momentum? The answer is don’t fully lose it in the short term when there is some type of change that is introduced. It is often the case that we have worked ourselves silly or have taken great demands from our body and mind to achieve great things in business and sports. Therefore, when faced with the opportunity, we take a much-needed and much-deserved break. The problem with that is that we also take away the conditions, the energy, practices, and habits that are creating that momentum.


The trick is to maintain some of the elements that you had when you were on the positive trajectory of success. Keep exercising. Don’t change your eating habits or your sleep patterns to any extreme degree. Keep your mind focused a bit on what you are achieving. Don’t abandon your routines and habits during downtime because the cold restart when you decide to re-engage is very difficult. This is both physical and mental. Mentally we want to keep sharp but maybe not at the same level of intensity. Physically we want to give our bodies rest while doing enough to keep muscle memory focused. The trick is to not “completely unplug” and fully stop but perhaps do less and rest more during that time.


If you happen to stop fully, how do you restart? Admittedly, it is difficult. Not only have you lost momentum, but negative momentum creates fear and anxiety and causes us to overthink. I often see it with my executive clients coming back from the long holiday break at the beginning of the year. They pushed themselves so hard during the year, followed by often an extended break resulting in them still feeling the exhaustion of the year as they consider re-entry.


Positive momentum can come from stringing a few positive actions together. It can start with one play, one action that then catches fire. Check out these ten tips that can help you recapture the magic.

  1. To restart, set small goals. Action begets action.

  2. Athletes often view films of what they look like when they are winning. Picture it.

  3. Immerse yourself in the emotion of being successful.

  4. Set small tasks out to get you moving.

  5. Be mindful of the internal dialogue and keep refocusing that internal dialogue on being productive, being positive, and thinking high energy!

  6. If it isn’t going well, pump the brakes, regroup, pivot to something else that you can be successful at but in the same genre meaning doing leave work and go take a nap!

  7. Manufacture moments to be assertive and play aggressively at different intervals to get chemicals in our brain to kick in again.

  8. Reset your bar for the re-entry phase and celebrate small wins while you fight your way back.

  9. It’s also a powerful idea to lay all this out ahead of a break so that you can do the first few steps on autopilot as you shake off the atrophy.

  10. It takes 21 days to form a habit but only a few days to undo one. Worst case – begin the work of making your work practices new habits again and go hard for 21 days.