Start & Don’t Stop: Maintaining Momentum As A Creative

Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash

You have an idea. You kick it off in grand fashion and put all your extra time into it. You get some traction, then it begins to wane. You start leaving it behind as you move forward in life. Then you want to restart, but it’s three times as difficult.

Does this cycle sound familiar? It certainly does to me. The creative life is filled with building momentum then losing it. But what if we began using momentum to our advantage to create a thriving life and career? It’s possible, and this is how we can create that kind of future.

Have a non-zero day

As someone trying to build an atypical career, I’ve at times felt a bit lost on how much I have to do and the mountain of needs that pile up. I’m teaching myself new things, and am doing what would typically take a small team to do. It’s overwhelming in an exciting way.

Then I heard Reshma Saujani’s interview with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the Brave, Not Perfect podcast, and it was the motivation I needed to keep going. She shares, “Have a non-zero day.” Do one small thing to keep your momentum. It could be buying a domain name or outlining a blog post, and it could be less than 20 minutes of work. Just do something.

The phrasing of this is important. (And I realize I could be reading into this more than Ocasio-Cortez intended.) This isn’t “have no zero days”. It’s “have a non-zero day.” You have to rest. Taking a day off from all work, including from your side gig, is necessary. But if you’ve made today a work day, make it a non-zero day to keep your momentum.

Remember the effort your momentum took

I want you to remember the effort it took to take even that first step towards your goal. That first action set off a tidal wave of momentum that you want to keep riding. It might have even felt superhuman.

The to-dos and the unknowns will make you want to stop, but I promise you that maintaining the momentum will make you feel accomplished. Making a list of what you need to learn can be your task for a non-zero day.

If you stop, it will be increasingly more difficult to restart. Acknowledge the emotions that are making you want to stop, consider where they stem from and how they affect you, then keep moving forward. It doesn’t matter if it’s a leap or a crawl, just keep moving forward.

Use momentum as an encouraging advantage

I’m confident that your momentum has taken you further than you ever thought possible. You’ve done incredible work, even if your mind is telling you otherwise. Success, whatever it means to you, takes time. Use your progress as encouragement to help you keep building your momentum instead of letting it fade.

Once you begin to use momentum as a source of encouragement, you can begin to use it to your advantage. The beauty of momentum is that it continues to grow the more you feed it. Commit to feeding it this week. Whatever is on that to-do list that you can accomplish, do it. It will give you an advantage in your creative life that isn’t found elsewhere.

Signing up for a creative life means signing up for a life well-lived. But it also means experiencing times of painful growth while building and maintaining your momentum. Once we begin retaining momentum in our work, we’ll begin to exceed our goals. It is possible, and you’re far more capable than what you give yourself credit for. Use that beautifully unique creativity to go build what you’re imagining, and remember the power that momentum holds in your career.