Way back in 1936, a Russian Scientist named Vladimir Lukyanov was tasked with finding a way to improve Russian concrete. To do this, like anyone would do in the 30s, he built his very own computer to aid in his calculations.
But… this computer wasn't just any old machine. No, this computer was powered entirely by water.
Just like all early computers, his water-computer was a giant, room-sized contraption. Through a maze of pumps and tanks, water would eventually settle in reservoirs that would represent the result of a calculation.
This insanely cool computer allowed the Russians to make a ton of progress when it came to making better concrete.
While this progress was important, the momentum this invention gave them was even more impactful. You see, this computer paved the way for the Russians to lead the way in analog computing for years to come.
When it comes to our careers, we often want to focus on blazing a trail too.
Are we making more money than last year? Is the game we're working on now "better" than the last one? And on and on.
Focusing just on raw progress, however, may not be the wisest way to move forward. Instead, focusing on the momentum our actions give us will yield far better results in our careers.
So, what am I going to regale you with today?
Part 1: What is Momentum?
Part 2: Why does it Matter More than Progress?
Part 3: How to Increase Your Momentum
Momentum isn't just about how fast we're going
But instead, how hard it is to stop us. When we're really "feeling it" or are "in a groove" we have a lot of momentum.
When we have a lot of good habits lined up and have no problem doing the things we need to be doing, then we have momentum.
Have you noticed that there are some people
Who just keep having success after success? Hit after hit? The sorts of people who are on a non-stop train of good times? Those are the people with momentum.
So long as they manage themselves well, nothing will be able to stop them. If we want our careers and lives to be stellar, that momentum is exactly what we should be focusing on.
Most of us focus on how well we're doing at any given moment
We're concerned about how well we're doing right now. That sort of measurement can start to feel suffocating and can drown us over a period of time.
Have you ever been in the situation where, no matter what you do, it feels like you're just not moving fast enough? That's a hard feeling to get rid of, especially when we're just focused on where we "should" be in our lives.
Instead, when we focus on momentum, we're focusing on what (usually small) daily actions we're making. Are we showing up every single day, even if it's just for 10 minutes? Are we focused when we do show up? Are we, most importantly, having fun regularly, even if it's just a little bit?
When we're momentum-focused, we're not overly concerned about the results of those actions. The results will come (providing the actions are positive.) Instead, all we care about is taking the proper actions themselves. That's it.
And this momentum makes us feel amazing
Which leads to longer lasting, better-feeling, and easier-to-get results. The better we feel throughout the process of doing what we do, then the easier it is to get more stuff done than anyone else.
We've all been in the situation where we have a new goal, and then try to do way too many things at once - all in the name of getting to our goal quickly.
Unfortunately, we've also seen the fallout of this process: we quit the very thing we set out to do, make absolutely no headway, and we're back to square one, or even worse, so burnt out on what we were doing that it becomes harder to ever come back to it.
There are two curves that could represent our careers
This one, as you can see, is full of ups and downs. Lots of peaks and valleys, good times and bad.
And this one is a smooth upward ascent that leads us to a good result in the end.
If we were to try to predict where the first curve goes next, it would be impossible
We have no idea if things are going to go up or down, nor how wild the swing will be.
But what about the second curve? It's a pretty safe bet that it'll just keep going up.
Which would you rather have?
The thing is, both of these curves are accurate
When we focus on our progress, there will be crazy ups and downs. Good times and bad. A constant roller coaster of emotion and worry.
However, when we simply focus on the momentum we have in our lives, then we intuitively know that we're always doing the right thing.
That's all that matters in the long term. Things flow much smoother and we're not nearly as worried day-to-day as we normally would be.
So how do we start focusing on momentum instead of progress?
We begin by focusing on our daily actions, however small they are. We have goals, sure, but we don't worry about when they're going to be hit - only that we take daily action towards them.
If you're like most people in this community, you probably want a career in games (or want to upgrade your already-existing career.) That's awesome.
Here are some small tasks you can do regularly to build your momentum to ludicrous degrees:
Send emails to people you respect in your industry and set up meetings with them
Attend networking events
Practice your craft daily
Share your work on social media
Apply for jobs
Read - even if it's just 1 page a day
Take an online class
Hang out with high performing friends
Tell people important to you that you love them
Learn to monotask
Get help from any online communities you're apart of
Study personal/business finance
Send thank you messages to industry leaders
"But Akash, you cocoa powder dusting atop a piece of fine tiramisu," I hear you say "won't there be ups and downs in our career no matter what?"
Yes, absolutely there will be.
But, if we're focused on our daily actions - on our generation of momentum - then those down times don't feel so bad, and those up times won't inflate our ego, thus allowing us to keep creating results forever.
Though in our desire to create momentum
It's easy to take on too much at once.
I'd recommend using the Ivy Lee method - where you assign yourself up to 6 work-related tasks a day. If you don't complete all 6 tasks that day - that's totally fine. Just transfer them to the next day and keep chipping away at your work.
And yes, there is such a thing as negative momentum
This is when we have bad habits that gradually drag us back slowly and insidiously.
Most people fall prey to drugs, alcohol, eating poorly, and other escapist behaviors that draw them into a deeper and deeper rut. When I'm dealing with it, I often fall into YouTube rabbit holes watching reviews for things I don't even plan on buying for days on end.
It happens to all of us. The key is to be aware of what's happening and start inserting the good habits back into our lives.
So, let's recap what we've learned
Momentum should be measured over progress
Focusing on our daily actions instead of how "well" we're doing leads to better results in the long term
Increasing our momentum stops the worry that occurs when our progress isn't where we think it "should" be
Water computers whip ass
While we may not be building a water computer anytime soon
We can still learn from the example set by that thing. While it was a great help for Russian concrete, it did much more for Russian computing over the long term than anyone could have predicted.
Focusing on our daily tasks and actions instead of our progress will do the exact same for us - giving us greater direction, joy, and results without constantly wondering why we're not "there" yet.
Where are you going to add more momentum into your life?
Is it going for a walk every day? Showing up to class/meetings a bit early every time? Chipping away at an online course daily? Reading a book about getting your finances in order?
Pick one thing, one area of your life that you want more momentum in, and start doing the small actions today.
Building momentum in our careers is tough
And doing it all alone is even tougher. That's why I've created two free courses to help you find work, network, negotiate, and build a freelance career in the game industry.
P.S. If you want to read more about Vladimir Lukyanov's water computer, you can do so right here.
P.P.S. This article was inspired by Simon Sinek's thoughts on momentum. Check out his talk on that here.