Momentum is not always obvious


A friend and I had a conversation the other day about those times in life when we feel like we just can’t get any momentum going, and it got me thinking.

It can be painful to feel like we’re not moving forward. Part of this is due to external stuff (we live in a world that has little tolerance for the idea of “standing still”) and part of it is due to our innate desire to grow and become more of who we are.

If I look back over my life and pinpoint the periods of a lot of “obvious” momentum, it becomes clear that they were almost always preceded by a time (sometimes a long one) where I swore I was stagnating and that nothing would ever change.

Why is this?

In my experience, it’s because the part of us that has outgrown where we are is the one who is experiencing “where we are” as stagnant.

But: there’s another part of us, the slower part that isn’t quite ready to let go, that is NOT experiencing “where we are” as stagnant at all. This part of us is still receiving benefits, comfort, nourishment, even joy, from being exactly where we are.

When I look back on my life from the standpoint of “who I am now”, the “me” I am now sees the periods of my life that preceded a lot of change as stagnant.

But, when I actually was LIVING those periods, a part of me was okay with them. A part of me needed them to be exactly as they were. And until that part of me was ready to let go, they weren’t truly “stagnant” periods to ALL of me.

Maybe the truth is that when we feel a lack of momentum, and think we are “stagnating,” what’s really going on is we’re feeling an increasing sense of incongruence.  Who we are becoming is feeling incongruent with who we have been, but we are still ALSO who we have been.

I’ve found that it’s not helpful to rush along the part of me that needs to be exactly where it is for a while longer. When I do that, it holds on tighter out of fear and a kind of rebellion.

What’s more helpful is to reassure the part of me that wants to gallop ahead that it WILL have its day, and that, in fact it IS moving forward as we speak, and that’s why the divide between it and the part of me that wants to stay put is becoming more and more painful.

The pain is a good thing! The pain of incongruence is a sign of momentum, rather than evidence that there is NO momentum.

If you find yourself thinking that momentum has to look a certain way, play around with rethinking it. Are there signs of momentum in your life that may not be obvious or tangible? Does the fact that something is not obvious or tangible mean it isn’t real?

Nature is always a good role model for us here. During the winter, growth does not stop altogether. Growth goes into a different phase. Trees do not die; they sprout new buds in the spring. Some animals go into hibernation, conserving energy for their eventual reemergence. The fact that they’re inactive during this period does not mean they are dead!

Before you assume you have “no momentum,” look for ways that momentum may be showing up in your life that are not totally obvious. And check for signs that you may be in the middle of your personal “winter,” where growth is occurring in oh-so-subtle ways, deep beneath the surface.

Trust is helpful here. Trust and momentum make good partners.

What do you notice about what momentum looks like for you? What do you do when you feel your momentum is “lost”? I’d love to hear how this works for you, in the comments.

 Image is “Iced Waterfall” © Patricia Cale | Dreamstime Stock Photos

8 thoughts on “Momentum is not always obvious

    • I’m really glad it spoke to you, Caroline. It kind of surprised me as I was writing it, so I’m pondering it myself! Thanks for stopping by, it’s great to hear from you. 🙂


  1. Hi Jill. I enjoyed this post too; very happy to have discovered your blog recently! I’ve been thinking a lot about ebb and flow in recent months and how it shows up in my life. {I’m very actively and regularly creative, which comes with its own ebb and flow, and the ebb can be a very ‘dry’ time that can be hard not to label negatively.} When I look at the bigger picture I realise that the ‘ebb’ times, that I can often perceive as stagnant, frustrating, and like nothing’s changing, {especially if they go on longer than I deem necessary!} are usually more accurately described as periods of percolation. Also as a way to prepare for and recharge from the periods of creative intensity. Really we are never completely still; as you say, there’s still momentum, it may just not look like our preconceived ideas of it. You definitely described my experience when you talk about incongruence. And yes, trust is a great partner to momentum!


    • Tara, yes to the “ebb” times being periods of percolation! Great way of putting it. I have definitely found that to be true. So often when I look back I can see that there was something very specific that was being put in place, or that I was learning but not yet able to articulate, during a “percolation” period. And you’re right that even when we’re in a period of a lot of creative activity, there are ebbs and flows within that as well. Thanks so much for sharing — glad you found the site and hope to hear more from you!


  2. Thanks Jill, for another nail very wisely and neatly hit on the head:-) My mind has thrown a lot of ‘you’re wasting your time!’ at me over the last couple of years because indeed, outwardly, there appeared to be very little momentum. I now realise how much inner preparation was needed before I could take my next step, and the scared me needed some time to catch up with that bit that was convinced it was ready, like, a year ago!!! So the new year sees me moving down to England to live and work at a Buddhist retreat centre and, right now, the balance of excitement and nervousness is just about right:-) Love and hugs, Harula xxx


    • Harula, that is fantastic! I’m really excited for your new opportunity, and so glad it came just when you were ready for it! What you say is so true — there’s often inner preparation we need to do before the next step truly resonates and feels like that “juicy next step.” So cool that you are right there! xoxo


  3. This is really profound Jill, thank you for sharing. It is something that I think we all struggle with in some capacity, some perhaps more than others (raising hand over here) 😉 It does seem so important to allow yourself to have one foot in each world at the same time. Be happy with where you are, but take steps to where you want to be. It requires a tremendous amount of faith and reflection to see how this viewpoint is exactly where we need to be. Just reading your post helped me to think back on the past year. I feel somewhat stagnant right now, but when I look at where I was a year ago at this time, and compare it with where I am today, it is eye-opening. It also encourages me to take that next step since I can see that I have done exactly that in the past. Thank you for sharing, great post!


    • Dave, I’m so glad to hear this post was helpful for you. Yes, there’s really something to accepting where we are that actually enables us to take that next step forward. Whenever I resist where I am, or think it’s “not enough,” I actually seem to block my own movement! And I totally agree with you that when I look back to where I was a year ago, I can see the change (it’s harder to see it week to week or month to month). Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, I appreciate you stopping by! 🙂


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