I wrote a 500-1000 word blog post consistently every week for two years.
Why did I do it? I started because I wanted to force myself to stop and think. I wanted to document the lessons I have learned. I wanted to become a better writer.
I kept going because I set up a habit that was easy to follow. I could knock out a blog post in an hour per week, give or take. In two years I have written the equivalent of a good-sized book just by following a simple habit. Although I wouldn’t impress anyone with my readership numbers, I was rewarded by occasional favorable comments from people who read my posts.
Oh, and my mom would notice if she didn’t get the Friday morning email notifying her of my latest blog post.
Six months ago I broke that habit.
Why did I stop six months ago? Simply put: something caused me to lose momentum.
It was really a simple thing.
Rewind three years and six months. I paid for three years of Bluehost web hosting with a Wordpress website. It took me a year to get around to setting up the site and start blogging. Two years later I had to make a decision. Do renew my Bluehost hosting plan or do I use something else?
I really didn’t like my site design. I didn’t want to spent time figuring out how to improve it using Wordpress. Besides, I’m a numbers guy, not a designer, and I didn’t want to pay someone to improve something I’m not making money on.
As a result, I moved my site to Squarespace, which has integrated hosting, simple site design tools, and nice templates. I spent quite a bit of time six months ago moving the site over and getting the design to a point where I was reasonably happy.
However, I ran out of time that day before I could figure out how to submit a new blog post and set up Mailchimp email list notifications. I put it on my to-do list for the next day. My Friday morning deadline was looming, and I was busy. Not only did I need to find an hour to write a post, I needed to figure out how to actually post it. It may have taken ten minutes, but somehow the unknown caused me to keep postponing the task.
I have postponed the task every few days for 6 months. It’s true: my Remember the Milk task list makes it easy to postpone tasks for a given number of days, and I kept hitting postpone.
It has gone on way too long. I am still busy, but that’s all the more reason to force myself to stop and think for an hour per week.
This experience has taken me back a few to high school physics when I learned about Newton’s laws. It takes more force to change the speed of an object (i.e. get it started) than it does to keep it going at the same speed. It’s takes more effort to start (or re-start) a habit that it does to keep it going.
That’s the power of momentum.
You know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever lost momentum with an exercise routine. You work out faithfully for a period of time. It becomes easy to get up in the morning to go for a run or go to the gym because it’s just what you do. It’s a habit and you have momentum.
Then you get sick or you travel or you eat too much over the Christmas holidays. It’s very hard to get going again.
Sometimes we get frustrated because we don’t give ourselves permission to find something difficult. For example, I’m lazy because I have a hard time getting up in the morning!
It’s okay - admit you’re having a hard time and push through the difficulty. Remember why you’re doing it, and remember it will get easier as you gain momentum.
Now I need to push through the difficulty of getting my regular blog posts going again!
Question: What goals or habits have you let yourself lose momentum on? How are you going to get started again?