Friction prevents us from building the momentum we need to complete our projects, live out our dreams, and create the lives we want. Therefore, if we want to accomplish our goals we need more than motivation, we need to reduce friction.
I’m not an avid bowler, but two or so times a year my wife and I will meet up with friends at one of the hipster bowling alleys in Pittsburgh.
The concept of bowling is simple: hurl an object towards a set of other objects to knock them down.
By exerting a force on a heavy ball, you create momentum. This then exerts another force on the pins, knocking them down and ensuing awkward fist pumps and high fives. It’s simple physics.
Or is it?
Motivation Isn’t Everything
I read recently, on one of the countless thought-leader blogs I follow: Motivation is the driving force. I get it, motivation is necessary to put things in motion.
But another natural phenomenon occurs in physics when applying a force to an object: the opposite reactionary force, friction.
Friction acts against the exerted force. The same happens in life.
Conventional thinking says: If we are motivated enough, we will reach our goal. But as we apply motivation to our project we experience resistance, friction, which slows us down. Sometimes halting us before attaining our goal.
Going back to the bowling example, there is a reason why we hurl round balls and not cubes and why the lanes are slicked with oil. These tactics are used to reduce friction so the ball can strike the pins with more force.
The inventors of this fun pastime recognized the need to manage friction to accomplish their goal.
I’ll hop off the physics-analogy-train for the time being and talk in more concrete terms.
Over this past year, I created an eCourse, started writing an eBook and launched a podcast. During each venture, I found three areas exerting friction on the desire to finish my project: fear, work ethic, and mood.
These three things slowed me down, drained my momentum, and prevented me from reaching my goals.
But as the year went on I learned to manage these three resistances. I stopped thinking about how others perceived me and put out content my readers needed to read. I set in place a writing schedule to overcome my “lack of time.” And I practiced a pre-writing routine to make sure I was in the right mood to create.
I didn’t succumb to the friction, I didn’t allow it to slow me down. I managed it.
Find the Friction in Your Life and Apply Lube
Think of one goal you want to accomplish next year. Maybe it’s losing weight or landing your dream job. But before you apply motivation to get the ball rolling (pun intended) identify the potential areas where you may feel friction.
Write a list and set out to manage the frictions before applying any motivation. Ask yourself what can you do to minimize their impact and then do it!
However, be aware not all friction is bad. If it didn’t exist we wouldn’t be able to walk, drive or make fire!
Friends and family tend to exert the most friction, but the good kind of friction. In bowling the lanes are slicked with oil except for the last few feet so the ball can grip into the wood and cut towards the center pin. Without the friction, the ball would slip into the gutters.
Your friends and family act as the necessary friction to keep you from straying too far out of the lane. Keep this in mind.
So the key takeaway here is to manage – but not eliminate – the friction in your life. If you do so, you’ll accomplish more with less resistance.