I hate—yes, hate—to see projects, and especially people, get stuck. I care. And maybe I’m a bit too attached to the success I want for my clients, authors, and colleagues. Plus, I’m frequently in that stuck place myself (ha ha!). It’s like that saying: We’re drawn to the very things we need ourselves. So, I’ve been spending some time thinking about a sort of Momentum + Completion equation. Here’s how it goes:
We know what it feels like when we have it. We have direction, a spark, a vision for what we’re doing, or simply the urgency that comes from having a real-world deadline.
There’s the energy of going in a clear (mostly) direction. There’s the drive that comes from getting into the flow, avoiding obstacles, seizing opportunities, having doorways open—even if some of the work is hard. There’s the excitement—that “popcorn” in the brain—that comes when all the pieces start to click…or pop. There may even be a fluttering in the stomach that comes from the confidence and desire we have to share and test our work out in the world.
Some ideas on creating and maintaining momentum:
- Talk about and/or share your idea and work with others. Even one other “right” person who values what you’re doing can provide motivation, feedback, and a sense of being “in there” with us.
- Find a community of people doing similar or related work. The wisdom of crowds and the power of collective energy are hugely helpful and motivating.
- Take small, consistent steps to build up your stamina and “chops.” There’s research that shows that writing or working on a project for just 15 minutes a day, consistently, gets greater results than waiting for big stretches of time.
- Assess your momentum. Honesty gives us so much clarity and freedom, whether it’s reaching out for help, getting the breakthrough insight we need, pausing, or letting go.
Yet it’s easy for our momentum to flag and to lose our passion and pace. It’s easy to be “doing” and “busy” but not “moving.” A lack of momentum has a positive role: It can be one of the greatest clues that our work needs something: more time to simmer, a key ingredient that’s missing, or a bigger re-thinking about the need, importance, aim, or purpose of our work. No matter what, without momentum we can’t move forward.
So, I’ve been experimenting with another piece to help take our work to the next level. It’s the “completion” piece.
As with “momentum,” we know what “completion” feels like. We exhale. Our minds and our sense of time seem to expand. We feel lighter and satisfied—even if we have questions and doubts.
Completion, when added to momentum, leads to something more powerful than either element alone. Here’s why: When we use the concept, or method, of completion to propel our work, we’re forced to think in smaller terms. Over and over, I see that shifting our focus to smaller completions creates clarity and builds energy.
A smaller “completion” lets us visualize a smaller “whole” where we can “see” and “hear” the voice, theme, message, and audience for our work. Because the scope is manageable, we see if we need to lighten it up, add more research, how-to, or emotion—or more of ourselves. This smaller vision, or completion, propels us to shape our work, find an editor or collaborator, or try another approach if we haven’t gotten it right. We get the excitement, creativity, and resolution that come with real decisions like designing a cover, finally choosing a title, writing a pitch letter, requesting an endorsement, or simply sending our work out to make its way in the world.
Some ideas on getting to (smaller) “completion”:
- Remember the old saw about limitations giving rise to creativity? Think haikus. Think sonnets. Think toasts and roasts. Think TED talks. Think wedding processions that have given rise to amazing creativity all within the form of going down the aisle. Think of a creative form for your work and see if/how it inspires you.
- Imagine an ideal “short form” for completion. Think through and look at models for an ebook, a booklet, an ecourse, an essay, a stand-up performance piece, a sermon. What high-value, finite piece gives you a sense of clarity and momentum?
- Consider opportunities with fixed deadlines—not of your own making. Look for themed issues of publications, workshop proposals, applications for retreats and programs, conferences to formally or informally share your work.
MOMENTUM + COMPLETION = A spiral of creativity, learning, growth, and brass-tacks practicality.
What can you shift right now, in the next days, week, or month?
How can you use Momentum + Completion to take your work to the next level?