Newton’s First Law

Newton's First Law >> Life In Limbo

This past week, I didn’t even practice bookmark habits to hold my place and keep up my momentum. Instead, I let everything go to the point that, a week later, it feels like I’m starting all over again. They’re all the same habits as before, but they feel harder now, like I don’t have the wind at my back anymore.

I’m reminded of Newton’s first law of motion, the law of inertia: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion. This is true for literal objects, but it also feels true for habits and lifestyle changes and projects. It’s easier to stay in motion, even if your pace is very, very slow, than it is to start from stillness.

Starting over, or for the first time, is so much harder than continuing something, because you have to fight off twice as much resistance in order to start. Not only are you dealing with your typical resistance of “this isn’t good enough” or “don’t I have laundry to do instead?!”, but you also have to contend with more insidious kinds of resistance like, “why am I even doing this anyways?” and “what’s the point?!” and “what difference does this make?”

At least when you’re keeping that object (or project or habit) in motion, your past experiences help to bolster you against your resistance and doubt. You have momentum, and you know how good it feels to keep up with whatever you’re working on. The motivation kicks in to “not break the chain” and stay consistent.

So this week I’m reminding myself that my only job is to put that object back into motion again. Start the process, build the momentum, create the chain. Just show up, despite your resistance, and soon you’ll be back where you were.