The Power of Inertia

Posted October 13, 2014 by Carolyn Stroud in On the Ladder
Inertia, simply put, is the tendency for physical objects in motion to remain in motion. It may be a principal we all learned in high school physics, but it applies to our personal and professional lives every day. Staying active, creating good habits and keeping busy both professionally and socially can help us succeed with less perceived effort.

So often I look at successful people and say, “how do they do it all?” They have the same amount of hours in the day as anyone else, yet they’ve managed to launch a successful business, write a book, get an advanced degree and/or raise a family. They undoubtedly build upon successes along the way, learn from inevitable mistakes and refrain from spending too much time on the “coulda, shoulda, woulda’s”. They just keep going. Even after they’ve made mistakes or taken wrong turns, they dust themselves off and get back out there.

Whether it’s writing, running, doing yoga, networking, job searching or making new friends, practice makes perfect. I liken it to finding a groove. We all have those moments during the day when we’re so focused on the task at hand that we could work forever and lose track of time. Having focus, putting one foot in front of the other, and building upon already existing inertia makes accomplishing large tasks so much easier. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not a proponent of working yourself into exhaustion and burnout. But determination, consistency, courage, and commitment will get you farther than you ever imagined possible.

They say that if you want something to get done, you have to give it to the busiest person. And that’s so true! If you just keep making small decisions and moving forward (or even backward at some times), you’re bound to complete your task faster than you would if you had backed down, waited for the right moment to start, or taken a detour because everything wasn’t exactly perfect.

A couple of weeks ago, I shaved thirty minutes off my previous record on a 20 mile training run. It was a gorgeously brisk day along the lakefront and I was feeling energized, but it was my mantra that really helped get me through when all I wanted to do was quit. “Just keep going” was on repeat in my head for hours, because I know from past experiences that the moment I slowdown is the moment I stop racing. Any athlete will tell you that it’s infinitely harder to start up again, once you’ve decided to take your foot off the gas. Both physically and mentally.

And that’s really true with so many things in life. Whether you’re succeeding, failing, or somewhere in between, keeping the momentum going and moving forward will get you to wherever you need to go, faster. Dreaming, plotting and planning will only get you so far. Doing, moving and conquering will help make your wildest dreams come true. So when the large tasks seem overwhelming and that faraway goal seems too unattainable, just keep going. You’re bound to accomplish so much more than had you just let time pass on by.


About the Author

Carolyn Stroud

Carolyn Stroud works in finance at a commercial real estate firm in Chicago. Her previous experience includes mortgage banking, leasing, running a start-up and captaining an adult co-ed kickball team. Originally from Detroit, she has an undergraduate degree from Kalamazoo College and an MBA from Pepperdine University. Carolyn is a voracious reader and passionate about growing outside her comfort zone. She recently completed her second marathon and is always up for a challenge.