Newton’s First Law: How it Helps You Develop Good Habits

Sir Isaac Newton, a mathematician, and physicist is widely recognized as one of the most influential scientists of all time. What you might not know is how one of his most significant contributions to science, the law of motion, can be used in building habits and reaching our goals.

Newton’s First Law
Newton’s first law, the law of motion (sometimes referred to as the law of inertia) states that an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

In other words, when something starts moving, it tends to keep moving and if something is at rest it tends to stay at rest.  This isn’t just the case with inanimate objects. It’s also the case with people.

An objection (or person) keeps on doing what they are doing unless they take some action.

The key reason many of us fail to cultivate positive habits or reach our goals is simple: we don’t get into motion!

The key is to get some momentum. Once we are in motion, staying in motion is much easier. Consider these examples:

  • You are procrastinating with exercise. You put it off but once you’ve put on your workout clothes and stepped into a gym, it’s much easier to get the workout done.
  • You have a small but boring project to complete at work. It’s been on your to-do list for days and once you start it, you find it was quicker to finish than you thought and are on to the other items on your list. 

This is why it’s important to break habits and goals down into small pieces, so you can take some small steps,  get some quick wins and get the momentum and positive feedback you need to keep moving to the next thing.

The initial resistance to starting towards building a habit or goal is often much greater than actually just doing the activity. When we  finally “get in motion” by taking whatever action is necessary, staying in motion was much less of a challenge than they expected. Running a marathon may seem impossible to some, but running just 1 mile will lead to 2 miles, to 5 etc. 

Now, you might feel the temptation to wait for some external force to push you into motion. Resist that feeling. Your own motivation can be the force that gets you started. When you do start pursuing a goal or good habit, you’ll likely be surprised by how easy it is to continue in that direction.

So in short: an objection in motion tends to stay in motion. What is one little step you can do right now to move you in the direction you want to go?