In the summer of 1687, after years of study and reflection, the legendary English scientist Isaac Newton published one of the most important works in the history of the world.
He called it Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, and the insights Newton wrote about shaped the very world we live in today.
Literally *nothing* in modern engineering, from iPhones to skyscrapers, would exist today without Newton and his three-volume treatise.
Among the many game-changing concepts he discussed were his now famous Laws of Motion.
Newton’s first law of motion, for example, is often summarized as something like “an object at rest stays at rest, unless acted upon by an external force.”
Makes sense. A rock isn’t going anywhere unless someone picks it up and throws it.
And this is true not only of objects in our universe, but of human behavior as well.
Human beings are creatures of habit; our species resists change and succumbs to the inertia of our lives. When at rest, we tend to stay at rest.
Think about it: do you ever wonder why so many people are in unhealthy, destructive relationships? Or why they remain in jobs that they hate working for bosses they despise?
It’s because of inertia.
We know deep down when we need to make a change. And often we know what we need to do. But inertia is the reason why we don’t do what’s necessary to improve our lives.
There are countless different forms of inertia.
For example, life gets in the way, and we procrastinate. We put things off and just never get around to taking action. This is a type of inertia.
Or, our ‘normalcy bias’ makes us believe that, no matter how much chaos we see before our very eyes, everything will get better soon… so we don’t take any action.
Or, we recognize that taking action might create conflict. And since most people prefer to avoid conflict, we take the easier road, follow the crowd, and abdicate our decision-making to other people.
Or, we have a great fear of the unknown. And we’d rather suffer a known danger than accept the risk of an uncertain outcome.
Or (especially these days), more and more people are being taught to think of themselves as helpless victims who have no control over the direction of their lives. We’re rewarded for coming up with excuses rather than for taking action.
Each of these is a form of inertia, and there are many more. But they each lead to the same place: inaction.
The funny thing about inertia, though, is that it is simultaneously one of the costliest aspects of our lives, yet one of the easiest to overcome.
Inertia holds us back. It prevents us from achieving what we really want from life.
But overcoming inertia is simply a choice. There’s no special skill… no privilege required.
Anyone from any circumstance or background has the ability to choose: today I’m going to start taking action. I’ll educate myself and gather every tool or resource available to me to improve my life.
Again, this is merely a choice… and only requires summoning the willpower to follow through on that choice.
No one needs to move mountains to get started. It only takes a few baby steps.
For example, I’ve long been talking about the need to set up a Plan B. This is something that makes sense. In light of everything that’s happened in the world lately, it’s only rational to have a Plan B.
Deep down I think most folks recognize this is completely sensible.
But then inertia takes over. For whatever the reason, days, weeks, and then months go by… and we still haven’t started.
This is not uncommon. But it’s easy to fix.
Remember– baby steps. Any time you find that you need to overcome inertia, ask yourself, “What’s the most important thing I can do right now to get moving in the right direction?”
It’s a great question to ask about your business, your relationships, and your life in general… as well as with your Plan B.