How to Regain Lost Momentum



Do you know that feeling of returning from vacation and the challenge of getting back into your daily routine?

It can be a challenge even if just returning from a long weekend. Or it doesn’t even have to be a vacation. It could be anything that pulled you out of your day-to-day routine for a while. And as you begin to get back into the swing of things, it’s just not that easy.

That’s me as I type these very words.

They say that showing up every day is about making little but surely progress on things. Which is deeply true. But there is something else as well.

That something else is called Momentum.

Doing your best creative work can be a real fight. And showing up every day is the best way to keep showing every day.

But we all take breaks. We all have unexpected interruptions. We all lose a bit of momentum at some point. What’s the best way to gain it back?

* * *

Yesterday evening, Sunday, I was up far past my bedtime. I had to finish reading 11/22/63. It was the last day of our family “staycation”, and I couldn’t help but marathon through the last few hundred pages of the book.

Today is Monday. And it was a fight to get out of bed this morning. I will be candid with you. I struck the snooze button when that alarm first went off, and I seriously considered striking it again. My mind and my body wanted to continue vacationing.

When you’ve been out of your day-to-day routine for a while, those creative muscles atrophy. To build them up again, you must show back up and return to the work.

For me, it was only 3 days that I took off. For 72 hours I didn’t look at email or scroll Twitter. I didn’t read a single business book. I didn’t write a single word. We had a fantastic time as a family. I wouldn’t have even stepped into my home office at all if I hadn’t forgotten to make the fall tuition payment for my son’s preschool.

Three days isn’t long. But even after 3 days, I can feel myself losing a bit of creative momentum. I’m sure you can relate.

It’s not quite so easy to sit down in the chair and start writing. (Technically I’m standing at my desk, but that’s details.)

To regain the momentum there is no trick. No secret. You have to simply show up.

But try this: set your bar of success a few notches lower. Don’t hold yourself to a standard that is so high you will only feel the pangs of shame at not succeeding right away.

Instead, hold your creative output to a lower standard than normal. Especially for your first few days back. For me, this morning, my goal was to write for just 30 minutes instead of my usual 90 or more.

The point is to merely punch the card that says you were here. You showed up. Now give yourself a high-five, and go make another cup of coffee.

Doing your best creative work is already a fight. Don’t make it harder on yourself than it has to be. You’ll return again tomorrow. And before you know it your creative output will be right back to where it was.