Rolling into the new year seems like a good time to consider how we would like to “roll.” Whether you’re just rolling off a decadent holiday season, rolling out new plans, just beginning to roll into the office, or getting rolled by events in the market, in your company, or in your personal world, the need to create or maintain momentum is always an important consideration. How are you considering it?
The Clarity of Forward Motion
Perhaps it’s the energy generated from conversations. Maybe it’s the sense of movement created by setting some meetings, the progress toward the closing of a round of financing, or the provocative call or note of new possibility. It could be the powerfully motivating speaker or an inspiring strategic planning session. Whatever the case may be, the right combination of events creates its own momentum and a sense of forward motion.
Filling the Pipeline
Though it’s only a feeling, that feeling comes from something tangible. Small successes. Steps closer to progress. It is in the these moments that we must seize the initiative. Push forward. Push harder. Focus energy and effort. We’re all familiar with the sales funnel. Seizing the initiative is a process of filling the momentum pipeline with positive movements that build upon themselves pulling you and all in your circle along with you.
Stuck in a Rut
What halts momentum? A loss. A negative conversation. Persistent issues, challenges, problems. Grit in the system. There seem to be so many more reasons to get stuck than to move forward. The world conspires to crash our momentum party with disruptions. In these moments, we feel like the victim. The recipient of whatever problem life drops in our lap on a given day. It becomes easy to feel that all you can do is react to the perpetual cycle of things happening outside of your control.
Seizing the initiative requires us to be intentional. It doesn’t mean that everything goes as planned, it means that we behave deliberately to build our own momentum. The word “seize” is very much an action verb.. It requires major effort on our part. Fortunately, we can ignite our own momentum. We CAN seize the initiative.
Momentum builds through action. Stuck? Then do something. Sounds easy enough, right? Sustainable momentum stems from the right kind of action. There are three simple (I did not say “easy”) steps: 1) Think 2) Plan and 3) Act.
- Think. Considering options is key to seizing the initiative. Actively thinking about what might be, plants the seeds for what you might do. Since building momentum is all about action, it begins with your thoughts. So often, we let our thoughts wander to the fear and doubt. What might happen, or even worse, what might not happen. Intentionally focusing our thoughts on the possibilities, the opportunities, and the blessings sets things in motion. This doesn’t mean we blindly chase ideas or don’t evaluate options. It means we fill our head with the positive energy of the possible to fuel what becomes the actual.
- Plan. Converting our thoughts into a plan is critical to sustain the positive movement built when thinking. Plotting a course toward some horizon and creating a plan to attain it, creates tremendous momentum. Planning allows us to take the conceptual and add structure and weight with the deliberateness of clear next steps. Charting a possible future energizes us while preparing us. It also causes more thinking. Planning fosters questions, identifies potential barriers, and allows us to seize the initiative, by looking forward into a world that we are working to create. Preparing for that future is a huge step in seizing the initiative and igniting momentum.
- Act. Thinking and planning are virtually useless if we don’t act. Without action, momentum dies. Without action, we relinquish the initiative and become reactive to the world around us. To seize the initiative is to behave intentionally and move with purpose. Sometimes, we can build some momentum by blindly acting – at least we’re doing something! However, this often leads us into other challenges and is not particularly effective at moving toward the bigger goal: more thought, more planning, more action – Sustained Momentum. The beauty of Thinking, Planning, and Acting, in coordination is that they fuel one another. If you want sustained momentum, you must use the three elements together in a self-supporting cycle.
Waiting for Something to Happen vs. Seizing the Initiative
Seizing the initiative is embracing the notion that you can control your own momentum. You can be intentional with your thoughts, plans, and actions. There is a time to allow plans to unfold, to give our seeds time to grow. This is an intentional part of the plan and process. However, standing by and waiting for something to happen is relinquishing your control, and destiny, to someone or something else. In this case, hope is a strategy, just not one that will help you make something happen. Giving things time to come to fruition means you’ve set them in motion and have made the decision to let them develop within the context of your plan.
Stuff Still Happens
Yes, external forces will still act upon you. Your efforts to build momentum will be disrupted. You will need to adjust to other variables. No problem. You still control the process above. You control yourself and that is more than enough for you to seize the initiative.
These are simple steps, pretty obvious, and still not easy. The distractions and disruptions will come. You will lose energy. You will become uninterested. The timing will slip. The plans will not work as planned. The trick is expecting the bumps, derailments, frustrations, and emergencies, while continuing to sustain your effort through the thinking, planning, and acting, cycle. You control your effort. You control your action. You control your momentum.
Now is the time. Carpe diem! Seize the day. Roll into 2024 by igniting yours, your teams, your family’s, and your organization’s, momentum. Seize it with intention. Seize it with some thought and planning but don’t overthink it. Seize the initiative, and create momentum, with action.