How 58 Creative, Positive and Productive Dynamos Build Momentum
You’ve probably read about President Obama’s morning workouts or how Ben Franklin strategically planned every hour of his day. But what if you’re not interested in running the country or… doing everything that Benny F. did? :-)
What can we do to function at our best each and every day?
How can we each build momentum in our work and in our lives? Where does that come from?
I think it has something to do with fundamentals: the daily practices that set you up to have the strongest day possible, both mentally and physically, ready to handle whatever comes your way. This approach to life has certainly helped me tremendously. But don’t just take my word for it…
The people below are consistently crushing it: showing up, doing the work, and getting results. You may recognize their names; here’s a chance to take a peek behind the curtain to see how they get it done.
You’re in for a treat: no magic here. These are simple practices that any of us have the power to integrate into our lives.
Onto the movers and shakers… I reached out to people I know, have met, or follow – all of them I admire.
What’s one daily practice you have that supports you and helps you build momentum?
And here’s what they said…
Lori Deschene – Tiny Buddha
The daily practice that has helped me maintain momentum with Tiny Buddha is reflecting and meditating on my “why.” I didn’t start Tiny Buddha to get somewhere, create a certain outcome, or reach a certain goal. The experience of sharing myself honestly, creating meaningful conversations, and continually evolving the site’s offerings is my destination. It’s easy to sustain momentum when momentum is the goal, because every day, you have arrived.
Leo Babauta – Zen Habits
I learn from everything. When I do something right, I learn from that and apply it to the next thing I try. When I fail, that’s the best learning opportunity of all.
Pamela Slim – Escape from Cubicle Nation
I build momentum in my life by taking time each day to remember why I am doing this work and the impact it will have on people I care about. Taking time to answer the “Why” about my work helps me with the “How.”
Chris Brogan – Human Business Works
I own my success by eliminating distractions.
Seth Godin – site, Squidoo, The Domino Project
Write a blog post every day.
Chris Guillebeau –
I have several: regular running (and other exercise), morning coffee and evening bourbon, and thinking through the day the night before. Of the above, I think exercise is the most important—besides the bourbon, of course.
Jonathan Fields – site
Every morning, I sit in meditation, usually mindfulness. It’s been incredibly powerful in not only grounding everything that happens from that point forward, but creating the space needed for ideas and solutions to bubble up from the froth of thought.
Carrie Wilkerson – The Barefoot Executive
A kitchen timer that I use for extreme focus, deadlines and zero incoming distractions during ‘timer time.’
JD Roth – Get Rich Slowly, Awesome People
I’ve learned that I have to do the hard stuff and the important stuff first. That is, I start the day by tackling the things that matter most. Then, no matter what happens the rest of day, I know I’ve accomplished something worthwhile. This helps me keep momentum.
Pat Flynn – Smart Passive Income
The best thing I can do to keep me motivated and build momentum in my business and in life is to simply talk about it with others who share similar goals. Like going to the gym or staying on a diet, it’s always easier when there’s someone else with you on the journey.
In business, I’m involved in a few mastermind groups – small groups of people who share a common passion who all work together to help each other out and hold each other accountable.
In life, I talk to my family about our goals, where we are and where we are headed. I even talk to my 17 month old son about the future, and although he probably can’t understand most of the words I’m saying to him, it’s a huge momentum builder because I don’t want to let him down.
Guy Kawasaki – site, Enchantment
The one thing that I do every day that many might say is the anti-thesis of building momentum is that I answer as much email as a I can. For example, your email! Many people believe that answering email is inefficient and ineffective. I believe it’s very hard and very effective. Few people do this. That’s what makes the people who do answer email enchanting.
Seamus Dever – actor (“Castle”)
I really don’t feel right unless I do something physical to start my day. It could be a run or yoga or lifting weights but it does something to relax me. It’s almost like it skims off just enough nervous energy to let me focus. I find that I get edgy and anxious, easily irritable, and sometimes depressed if I don’t do something physical to start my day. If that means losing sleep to get up early and do something then so be it.
Mark Sisson –
I take 15-20 minutes aside earlier in the day and have a conversation with my wife in a quiet place. We update each other on the plans for the day and share concerns and whatever deeper thoughts are surfacing. This connection helps ground us for the rest of the day in everything else we do.
Havi Brooks – Fluent Self
Aside from Shiva Nata? Mainly Shiva Nata. :) [see her in action here]
Neil Pasricha – 1000 Awesome Things
I write down one awesome thing every night. It doesn’t matter if it’s the smell of gasoline, high fiving a baby, or fixing electronics by smacking them — just remembering that we’ve always got something to be thankful for helps me feel good about my day.
Brian Johnson –
My #1 daily practice: Meditation.
Michael Bungay Stanier – Box of Crayons
Here’s how I stay focused on what I’m trying to do: pick just one Great Work Project to work on, and then define one “high value action” to take to move it forward each day. I suffer SOS – shiny object syndrome – so this “double focus” is constantly difficult and always useful.
Karen Walrond, Chookooloonks
Hands down, my journaling practice. I wrote about it here.
I do it every morning, and it helps me clear my head and get me going for the day. :)
Baker – Man vs. Debt
Simple: connecting with people daily.
More than any one tangible activity – a daily commitment to connecting with people in various ways has helped me build momentum. For this to be most effective, it has to be 1-on-1. Not through Twitter or Facebook, but through a phone call, skype chat, or very personalize email.
Genuinely connecting with people – and looking for ways to help them – had paid so many wonderful dividends back to me (business and personal).
Jonathan Mead – Illuminated Mind
Remember where I’ve come, and what I’ve already done. A lot of people try to do the opposite, and they measure their progress based on the ideal in the future. I think that’s a momentum killer. The best way to keep momentum going is to acknowledge the greatness you’ve already achieved.
Amber Rae – Revolution.is, The Domino Project
Doing something I care about every day. Whether that’s writing a blog post, helping someone find direction, asking someone for help, or shipping a big project, it’s the little actions every day that lead to larger successes. Thinking less and doing more (of the things I enjoy) has helped me build momentum doing what I love.
Cal Newport – Study Hacks
A big part of momentum, in my personal experience, is convincing your mind that what you’re doing is potentially valuable. If you’re pursuing something random, or something you’re not really in a good position to succeed at, your mind has a way of recognizing this and reacting with procrastination. One of the best defenses against this type of mental road block is start by getting good at something valuable. From this foundation it’s easy to build momentum. Many people avoid this foundation construction stage, however, because getting good at something is not always fun and exciting on the day to day scale.
Tony Schwartz –
Here’s my own primary ritual: begin each day by doing the most important activity — the one’s that most challenging and has the most power to add value — first. Choose the activity before you go to sleep the night before, so you won’t waste time thinking about it when you sit down the next morning. Work without interruption for 90 minutes and then take a real renewal break — get up from your desk, take a walk, or listen to music, or have a conversation with a colleague. If 90 minutes is impossible, choose a number you can do, but no less than 45. You’ll get more good work done in this way than you will at any comparable period for the rest of the day.
Dirk de Bruin – Upgrade Reality
I have a vision board above my screen that reminds me of all the things I want in my life. You should try it :)
Johnny B. Truant –
I try always to do my most important and most focus-intensive tasks first… ideally before the rest of my family is awake if possible. For me, that’s some kind of writing. The rest of my day is mostly devoid of a regular schedule or regular practice, but that ensures that the vital stuff gets done if nothing else.
Charlie Gilkey – Productive Flourishing
The practice that’s most supportive and momentum-setting for me is getting up a bit earlier so I can have some morning quiet time. On the best days, I get up with enough time to sit outside in the sun or in a comfy chair inside and do some quiet meditation and reflection. It’s great to have some quiet time with no busyness, no shoulds, and no outside world needing to be filtered or processed. It’s sometimes hard to do the practice, but it always pays for itself tenfold.
Corbett Barr, Think Traffic
To maintain momentum, I constantly do my best to analyze self doubt and negative feelings whenever they creep in. I often ask myself: “what is the worst that could happen?” As well as: “does this particular issue really matter much in the bigger scheme of things?”
Jenny Blake – Life After College
One daily practice I have that helps me build (and maintain) momentum is waking up each morning and identifying my THREE biggest priorities (in order). Ideally, I don’t work on anything else until those three things are complete — whether it’s finishing a presentation, writing a blog post, or answering an important email. I learned this concept from Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog, and it’s helped me ensure I’m efficient, effective, and making major headway on my most important work.
Colin Wright – Exile Lifestyle
Every day I make sure to take at least 20 minutes to just sit. No music, no doodling, no conversation, no reading. I don’t position myself in the lotus pose or prop my back up nice and straight. I sit comfortably and stare off into nothing, blurring my vision and allowing my mind to wander where it will. It’s incredible how much you’re able to process about your life, your day, things you forgot to do and things you want to do when you give your brain the freedom to make connections without trying to guide it, and without distraction.
Mark Silver – Heart of Business
Momentum is not just one daily practice. For me it is a web, an ecosystem, if you will, of support. Conversations with my wife, playing with my boys, gardening, my mastermind/brain trust, my team, my clients, my cats, eating well, prayer practice, learning and reading new things both in my area and outside it, conversations and meals with friends, exercise outdoors all are what build momentum. Momentum is not made up of just one push of the pedal… and even with the pedaling it requires all the pieces of the bike to be in good working order to move forward easily.
Ash Ambirge – The Middle Finger Project
I’m looking at this, trying like hell to come up with a legit answer, but to be honest, I DON’T have any rituals, mostly on purpose – I like to mix things up, and that’s where my greatest source of inspiration comes from. One morning, I’ll wake up and hit the gym first. Another, I’ll wake up and jump right into my latest project. I let my mood guide me – for me, inspiration comes when it comes, and no matter what I’m doing at that time, when it comes knocking, I drop everything else and pay attention to it. :)
Jerry Kennedy –
I would say the daily practice that helps me keep my momentum up is meditation/reflection. I take some time each day, usually just a few minutes in the morning and a few more before I go to bed, to just be still and quiet my “monkey mind” a little. The insights, ideas and inspiration that come from those few minutes is usually enough to keep me moving forward.
Jen Lemen – Mondo Beyondo, blog
I don’t know how to build momentum, but I do know that when I acknowledge my fears, thank those fears for protecting me and then release them through a ritual that I almost always experience the rush of movement needed to carry me to a new place.
Srinivas Rao – Skool of Life, Blogcast FM
The one thing that helped me to build momentum above all things was the practice of writing every single day. I don’t produce masterpieces everyday. In fact I’d say that most of what I produce is not worthy of publishing. But 1 in 5 posts ends up being good and that’s what usually goes on my blog. The thing with writing everyday is you get into a groove and hit momentum. From that point forward you can’t stop.
John T. Unger – artist
It varies every day. I try to finish as many things as possible every day so I can move on to the next. Also, I work projects in defined stages.
Andrea Scher – Mondo Beyondo, Superhero Journal
My one simple daily practice is walking around the block. It puts me back in my body and changes my perspective every time… My best ideas come to me (often fully formed) on walks or in the shower.
Sean Ogle – Location 180, Location Rebel
The one thing I do each day to help me build momentum is reiterate confidence. I’ve learned that the more confident I am, the better everything is around me, both from work to my personal life. So each day I find a way to engrain my confidence in my head even more. Sometimes its in short meditation, more often it’s while I’m working out or going for a run. This has made a bigger change than just about anything else in my life.
Tyler Tervooren – Advanced Riskology
I have a wake up call every morning with a friend that really helps me set my day straight and get started on my most important work. We hop on skype for a few minutes at 6:00 AM every day to tell each other what we’re going to do that day and then go over how we did the day before. It really forces me to think about what my most important work is because I have to get it out of my head and explain it to someone else rather than just let it mingle in the back of my mind.
Steve Kamb – Nerd Fitness
Although it’s more of an every-other-day thing, I build momentum in my life by building momentum with my exercise. If I did 15 pull ups during my last workout, if I can do 16 pull ups during today’s workout then I’ve gotten stronger. I look forward to each workout to see if I’ve made improvements over the last time. It’s these small success that motivate and inspire me to build small success in my online business and my life.
Farnoosh Brock – Prolific Living
I have many daily practices – early rising, meditation in the sun, Oolong tea, working from home – but I think what builds serious momentum in my life is not what I do but how I feel. So long as I am doing what aligns to my values and my passions, my momentum is through the roof. Being true to yourself is not a cliché; it works because when I was doing the opposite, I was miserable despite a very comfortable life and a lucrative income. Also, take good care of your health, a non-negotiable that one!
Tripp Lanier – The New Man Podcast
As for “building momentum” this is assuming that direction has been determined. Otherwise it’s simply spinning wheels. And yet sometimes we’ve got to simply start where we are. Here’s what I’ve done in the past.
Get curious — What am I interested in? Where does my curiosity go? What sounds fun? Open this channel of communication within yourself. Be wiling to acknowledge that you want to learn and explore things. Sometimes we shut down our curiosity if doesn’t seem like we’ll make money doing it or it’ll change our life in some way. Screw it. Open up the flow of curiosity.
Identify one thing you can do today/this week that will be a step in that direction — Keep it simple. It might be edgy. It might be a little boring. It should not be terrifying. If it’s terrifying, make the step smaller. Make sure it’s measurable. Give it a deadline. Follow through. Get it done.
Repeat — keep identifying the next steps based on what you’re curious about. Keep following through. Step by step. Hire a coach to accelerate your process. Tell friends what you’re doing. They’ll ask you about it and this will inspire you to continue to make progress. Make the process fun and you’ll want to stay engaged. When you fall off, get back on.
Dave Ursillo – Lead Without Followers
Small victories. Frame each tiny objective that you conquer (even those that others don’t know about, see or discuss) as a rung on the ladder to your bigger goal. And always remain fluid, open and innovative on the path… momentum comes not from struggling against the currents but from riding both the waves and the tides: whatever life and this world provides you.
Ben Whitehair – actor, Playbills vs. Paying Bills
There are two daily things that really help me build momentum in my life and various careers.
First of all, I have a google doc in which I write down what I did every day towards my career. This helps me ensure that I do at least one thing every day towards my goals, even it’s small. It’s stunning how quickly these little things add up.
I also make sure that when I wake up before checking my email, phone, or even opening my computer, that I do one thing that I want to do. It’s so easy to start reacting to the things other people are throwing at you, that taking even 10 minutes to stretch, write in your journal, read, whatever…makes all the difference in the world. Starting the day on your terms has a profound effect.
Eliot Burdett – Lifestyle for Success
Every day for the last 22 months I have started my day by meditating. I rise very early in the morning, usually around 430 am, 7 days a week and sit still for about 30 minutes while I watch my breath and clear my mind. This daily practice has made me more calm, more energized, better able to focus my mind, better able to be in the present and better able to see things clearly. I am able to start every day in a way that is consistent with how I want to live my life.
Nate Damm – Nate Walks America
A practice that I do on a daily basis to keep myself focused and continue to build momentum towards my goals is I take a few minutes to just sit down and concentrate on nothing but my breathing in and out. I often do this several times a day. It helps me to relax and also to clear my mind of unnecessary worries, which puts my focus on things that are actually important.
Joel Runyon – Blog of Impossible Things
I try to do some form of exercise every day. This doesn’t always happen, but even doing something as simple as 25 pushups gives me a jolt of energy and keeps me from losing momentum and getting out of habit in my workouts.
Alexandra Jaye – My Goddess Life
I build momentum by rockin’ my nutrition, meditation & movement practice. And, I simplify, prioritize and set small goals to set myself up to win! I get in my flow when I keep it simple & show up every day!! :)
Josh Roa – 80-Day Millionaire
Maybe not a staple for some but I’ve found it to be of great value for me and that is daily prayer. Prayer in the morning (and night if I’m especially proactive) allows me to focus on the 3 most important things in my life, taking care of my family, taking care of my family, taking care of my family. Take that away and I’d be a man without a purpose but focus on it and it has a ripple effect across all other facets of my life, helping me to set a better sail toward all of my goals.
Jacob Sokol – Sensophy
I meditate. It helps me keep my mind on what matters and cut straight through the chaotic disillusions that seem so solid.
Dusti Arab – Undefinable You
Analyze the phrase “Go with the flow.” Use it in every sense possible and watch the momentum build.
Lachlan Cotter – Art of Audacity
Meditation—practicing presence. Hugely powerful. Do the most important thing first. Talk it up. Make time for fun. I suck at all of them sometimes. But when I do them, I feel it.
Jason Kotecki – Escape Adulthood
Hands down, I pray. It keeps me grateful for what I have, focused on what’s important, and inspired to make a difference. It reminds me that I’m neither as important or terrible as I think I am sometimes, and that I’m not in this alone.
Emilie Wapnick – Puttylike
I try to go for a gratitude jog every morning. I spend this time going over every person and thing in my life that I’m grateful for. Then I switch over to visualizations and imagine all of my dreams as though I’m already living them. The whole thing takes about 20 minutes, gives me a good boost of energy and puts me in a wicked productive state.
Joel D. Canfield – Finding Why, Canfield of Dreams
Every morning we have a cup of tea and discuss the day ahead, and share any concerns or challenges we’re facing. Since we work as a team, touching base every single day helps avoid dropping the communication ball. It also helps us revisit our priorities and goals to make sure that we’re doing what’s important and not just what’s on our to-do list.
Days when I just get up and start working, I usually finish one or two important tasks. Days when we agree on a checklist of important tasks, I usually finish five or six important tasks.
Mykel Dixon – the b. movement
Writing every morning gives me a strong foundation to build momentum. Could be a stream of consciousness, ideas for a song or lists, goals and plans. Content isnt important. Its having a sacred daily space to sift through my thoughts that gives me the power and clarity I need to keep moving forward. (I recommend 750words.com)
Assaf Cohen – actor
Momentum is an elusive thing, especially for actors. For me, I try to focus on eating well, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and gently distancing yourself from persistently negative people who spew negative energy. Life’s challenging enough as it is.
Shannyn Allan – Frugal Beautiful
James McWhinney – Your Greatest Life
I don’t have any ONE practice that i use to build momentum; but rather i have a number of practices that I do that allow me to live and fulfill my potential by doing activities that leave me highly energised and spiritually connected. These are my daily fundamentals: exercise, meditation, healthy eating, journalling, giving and appreciating.
There are some definite themes here: mindfulness, exercise, dreaming, creativity…
So grateful to all that contributed!
A couple of items for YOU:
- If you’re feeling inspired to create a positive habit in your life (maybe one of the ones you saw mentioned above), I’m launching a 30-day challenge on Tuesday, June 21st – take the plunge and upgrade your life! [UPDATE: challenge completed!]
- Let us know – what is one of your daily practices?
I’d love to hear your answer along with any other comments you have below.
Until next time,
Did you enjoy this post? Please like/tweet/share it with your amazing social network – and thank you!
[FTC Disclosure – there are affiliate links up there.]