Life without momentum sucks. It feels like you're wading through mud, and every little decision is impossible to make.
Ruts always seem to happen right after peaks. Everything's going great until suddenly something happens and you find yourself in a rut.
By rut, I don't mean full blown depression, but rather an emotional blip or period of stagnancy, uncertainty, and anxiety. Not all hope is lost, but things just feel more difficult.
Ruts are usually caused by sudden drastic change, shock, or trauma––anything from moving apartments to a death in the family.
The most prevalent symptom of a rut is every little decision becoming impossible to make.
When you're in a rut you have to push yourself to wake up early, go to the gym after a long day, and eat protein instead of sugar.
This comes from a lack of momentum. Each decision is a new one you have to consider and consciously pursue.
When there's momentum, however, waking up early isn't as tough. "I've been waking up at this time more or less everyday for 3 months. I'll just do it again." "I always go to the gym after work. Why wouldn't I today?"
It's easier to continue a habit than start one. It's also easier to start a habit when everything's going great.
When you're wading through a rut, though, where do you find the energy to start a habit? How do you start multiple habits at once?
The easiest way is to break the habit down into the smallest piece possible. If you want to get in the habit of going to the gym everyday, start doing pushups right before bed––don't let yourself go to sleep until they're done.
If you want to start a blog, write 100 words a day. If you want to become a photographer, take 5 photos a day.
These things should be broken down into the tiniest obligations possible. If you take 25 photos one day instead of 5, cool. But the next day you shouldn't obligate yourself to taking another 25. Just stick to 5.
Over the long run, these tiny little habits add up. The more stable they get, the more you can push them, until suddenly you're going to the gym for 10 hours a week.
The momentum of these tiny habits pushes you forward and reduces decision fatigue. The only question becomes: which habits do you want to form?
P.S. Random events throw people into ruts all the time. They aren't avoidable. The strongest are those who can acknowledge the rut immediately and direct themselves into positive habits.