Fun With Momentum

Playtime with Ella always brings out the kid in me and often I feel like I’m having at least as much fun during our playtime as she is. Last night, while searching for stuff to put into her spinning-fairy-music-box-stuff-holder we found a couple of marbles in a jar and began playing with them. I thought it might be fun to spin them around in a bowl, so I got a big metal bowl from the kitchen and we began playing.

What began as playtime quickly turned into a physics experiment – although we were still having a blast! I realized that if I held the bowl in my hand and spun the marble around, there came a point at which I could keep the marble spinning with very little effort.

“Momentum,” I thought! “How cool.”

As we played and laughed, watching the marbles spin around and, more than occasionally, go flying out of the bowl, I began to grasp what a powerful force momentum is in our lives.

Holding that bowl in my hand and experiencing the infinitesimal energy required to keep the marble moving awakened in me a new clarity and the desire to consciously work with the force of momentum in my life.

Whenever we begin a new project or set a goal or chart a new course in life, there is a period of work and great effort. This is a time in which we are overcoming inertia.

Have you ever had to push a stalled car? Remember how difficult it is to get it moving, but once it’s going you barely have to push at all? That initial effort is needed to overcome the inertia. But after that initial output of effort and energy, momentum builds up. And once momentum takes over you switch from pushing to guiding, making sure the car is going where you want it to go.

This phenomenon occurs in our lives as well. When we begin a new project there is an initial output of energy required. Often this period feels like hard work, and it is! But soon momentum begins to kick in and the amount of energy required to keep the project moving forward decreases.

If we stick with the project long enough, it will, eventually, reach the point where the force of momentum is doing most of the hard work and our job is merely to continue to guide the project in the right direction.

The problem is that most of us never reach, and/or sustain that point where momentum is doing most of the work.

Some people don’t stick with something long enough for the momentum to kick in, jumping from idea to idea, project to project, just before the positive effects of momentum are felt. The sad thing is that many people abandon a project or goal just before the point when momentum was about to take over and start doing most of the work.

Others keep starting and stopping, gaining some steam and then putting on the brakes to check to see if everything is OK.

Others focus on too many projects simultaneously, never adding enough energy to any one project to get any of them past the point of inertia.

And some reach that momentum point and continue to put in the same amount of effort that was needed to overcome the inertia which pushes the system into chaos or spins the marble out of the bowl – it doesn’t take much! (Watch the second video).

The goal is to put in a lot of focused, intentional energy into a system or project, in order to quickly reach a point of system stability where momentum is doing most of the “heavy lifting.” Once there, you pull most of your energy out of that system – keeping just enough attention on the system to keep it going in the right direction – and focus that energy on the creation of a new system.

Ask yourself what your pattern is when it comes to inertia and momentum. Do you start and stop, jump around, push too hard once momentum has kicked in? If you can become aware of your pattern, you can begin to take steps to shift and work in harmony with the physical forces available to you.

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