The Real Driving Force in Your Life

by Karl Rohde — Get free updates of new posts here. Photo Credit: Karl Rohde

I’m guessing for most of us, we would like to think that we are driven by goals, a higher purpose, meaning, fulfillment and passion. The reality is that these things really do not drive us. There is a difference between our aspirations and what really goes down in the history book of your life. The reality that’s hard to hear is that our lives are not a product of some great vision. It’s rather something un-sexy and a little staid. And it’s why true change can be a tough challenge.

What really drives us is INERTIA:

  1. a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.
  2. a property of matter by which it continues in it’s existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.

Inertia is that thing that keeps us doing what we’ve always done. When you wake up inertia drives you like a plane on autopilot. It’s why you’re doing the same thing you’ve always been doing. It’s why you’ve been in the same job and or industry your whole working life. It’s why you’ve been living in the same neighborhood for decades or even your life. It’s why you’ve been part of the same social group or religion for years. It’s why you’ll be doing what you’re doing now next year and the next 5 or next ten years.

Our default response in life is not to experience happiness. Our default response in life is not to experience meaning. Our default response in life is to experience inertia. - Marshall Goldsmith (the most influential leadership thinker in the world by Thinkers50/HBR)

Inertia is the most powerful force in your life and is not to be underestimated. What makes it so powerful is that it requires little to no effort to allow it to run the show. It’s like the momentum of a monster ship. Once it gets going it just keeps going. Once the ship is in motion, to change course, stop or slow it down requires forethought, planning and sometimes the assistance of a tug boat.

If you want to work with a little more vision, meaning and creativity, take a moment to think about the impact of inertia on your ship.

If your New Years resolutions are a distant memory, you now understand inertia in practice. With this in mind its never too late to start something new. The best time to start is now. You don't need to wait until next year.

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