Momentuming Your Life

O.K. … “momentuming” isn’t a real word, thought it should be. It’s important to acknowledge the sheer active nature of momentum, so much so that the word would deserve the most active tense one can use in written English.

At its essence, true momentum in life is riding a wave of effortless action. It’s the creation of energy in your life. And, if you were to watch a snowball rolling downhill to trigger an avalanche or try to stop a boulder as it careens from the mountaintop to the valley below, you would quickly come to respect the raw and awesome impact of momentum-inspired energy at work. Who wouldn’t want this powerful force working to improve one’s life?

Here’s a secret for starting your own avalanche of positive, personal momentum(ing) …

Value alignment.

To be sure, you also need goals and, most likely, a plan for achievement of said goals. However, value alignment is also a key prerequisite. You’re going to have to make sure your values – those sacred beliefs you hold in your heart of hearts – line up with yourself, your actions (after all, how often do we find ourselves acting counter to our own values and against our own interests? Too often), and others including key relationships, organizations and causes you care about.

When you put in line your core values with what you touch in the world, energy flows into momentum and you keep from sabotaging yourself and coming up short of your goals.

Because we intrinsically value values, you may be fooled into thinking alignment is difficult. Not so. Consider the example of Socrates, the great philosopher and ethicist from ancient Greece. He employed a simple three-part test to ensure his actions were aligned with his values. Of everything, he would ask:

  • Are you absolutely sure what you are about to say it the truth?
  • Are you absolutely sure what you are about to say is good?
  • Are you absolutely sure what you are about to say is useful?

Rotary International has adopted a similar four-way test that is still in use today. Their version:

  • Is it the truth?
  • Is it fair to all concerned?
  • Will it build good will and better friendships?
  • Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Given the simplicity of both the Socratic and Rotary tests, perhaps the more difficult challenge is figuring out what we value most; what deserves the bulk of our attention?

Well, here is a simple test for that … though you’ll have to forgive the morbid nature of its set-up.

Imagine you have five minutes to live. Maybe you are on a sinking ship at sea or sitting in a plane that is about to crash … it doesn’t matter. You know you are about to leave this world and you only have five minutes to do the following: write down five life lessons you want to pass down to your dearest loved ones.

That will clarify things in a hurry.

Once you have your life lessons down in sentence form, take a minute to find the one-word label for each. Maybe it’s “love”, “faith”, “wisdom”, “peace” or something else. Perhaps you have more than on label that fits a lesson, that’s o.k. too. Write it down.

Once you’re done with the labels, look back at what you have on paper.

You have just re-versed engineered your own, personal value set.

If you’d like to test those values like Socrates would, try this test:

  • Is it absolutely necessary that _________________ (some activity or thought) is connected to _______________ (one of your values)?

Now, you’re a busy person like most … so you would not construct this values-set-test for, say, picking out a soda from the store cooler. Not every life circumstance calls for this level of self-inspection.

Still, when key moments in life and work call for it, you now have the ability to identify your core values, apply and align those values to your activities and enjoy the energetic lift you’ll receive from “momentuming.”