It’s Monday, the day everything starts over again and we get back to the routine. For some, that’s always a bit of a downer, the antithesis of TGIF. But I have to say that as much as I love my weekends, I always find Monday to be exciting because it brings a new start and new possibilities. It’s like an invitation to be creative and productive all over again. Do you know what I mean? Monday morning roles around and all of a sudden I’m ready to get something done I’d wanted to do last week, to start something new, or to make progress on a long-deferred goal.
And then I don’t.
Before I can hum the refrain of “Monday Monday” I’ve hit this wall of inertia. The project is too big, the goal too distant, the possibility of progress – and the work required to make it – too exhausting (“I knew there was a reason I put it off last week”) to sustain my momentary Monday-imbued optimism.
If this is anything like what you experience – whether deciding to help you kids tackle their disorganized rooms, starting a new exercise regimen, creatively tackling a problem, or getting an early start on the sermon – I’ve got good news for you: breaking through the barrier of inertia may not be as hard as we thought.
The key, I’ve discovered – okay, am slowly discovering – is to take just one little step toward the larger goal with no major expectations attached. Because what matters at this point is the movement itself, not the outcome. Inertia, after all, is a sense of being weighted down, of being unable to start. A small step – leading your child by hand upstairs, throwing on your exercise clothes and lacing up your shoes, opening the Bible and pulling a blank pad of paper to jot ideas down on – is so eminently do-able than even the worst case of inertial has a hard time preventing you from doing it. Again, however, the key is not to assume you have to do the whole thing, but rather be content with a first step. Which may, of course, lead to another, and another.
As explained by writer, photographer, and yoga instructor Gracy Obuchowicz, one name for these strategic first steps is “micromovement”:
“Micromovements” is a term used by the inspirational author and dreaming advocate SARK. Twenty-eight years ago she was an unemployed artist in San Francisco who suffered from chronic procrastination. What changed her into the author of 16 bestselling books was learning how to take the first step. Her advice is that if your dream is to write a novel, then your first micromovement could be to turn on your computer. After that you can decide whether or not you want to keep going. If you do, from there you can open and name a Word document. If you decide to go further, then you can write a bad sentence and then maybe another will come. I’ve also heard this used as a way to motivate yourself to exercise: If you don’t feel like going for a run, just put on your shoes and see what happens. The key is to alleviate any pressure to do everything at once. Every project is made up of dozens of small steps that are all pretty doable.
So what brave ambitions or creative aspirations do you have this Monday? If you want to make headway on them, then dream big, but start small. You may be surprised what one little step may lead to.
And just for fun: a video of “The Mamas and the Papas” singing Monday Monday.
Gracy Obuchowicz’s comments about micromovements are from a larger article on being happy. You can read the whole thing here.