Monday, February 20, 2012
Do you like to play pool? I do.
I'm not very good, and I don't often win, but if I find myself around a pool table, I want to play.
Whether or not you like the game, it is the perfect example to explain Newton's second law of motion.
I like to phrase it this way: the change of momentum in an object is proportional to the strength and parallel to the direction of the force acting upon the object.
Wow, those are some big words I just used.
Let's see if I can break it down. There are two aspects of motion: direction and strength (you could probably say speed, but i think it makes more sense this way...), and they are both conditional to the force that caused them.
There. That's definitely easier to chew, right?
So, the first part: direction.
When ever an object is forced into motion, it will move in a direction parallel to the force working upon it.
Let's use our pool table to explain. The cue ball is always going to move in a direction similar to the direction of the pool stick.
Now, I'm not great at always getting the ball to go straight, but that's mostly because I can't aim. There is no doubt that the ball moves according to how it's pushed, the problem is just me...
In my life, there are some activities that are pushing me away from where I want to go. As much as I love to read, I know that I have to set a time limit on those novels, because every hour I read is one less hour spent sketching card designs. It's not a bad habit, but it is not the direction I want to be aiming for.
The second part: strength. If you've ever heard "you get what you give," then you have a basic idea how this works. The stronger the force used, the more acceleration you're going to get.
This explains both the ball that only rolls for two inches before stopping, and the ball that bounces over the rail and lands in the floor. The strength of the force will determine both the speed and distance travelled.
I imagine that's why people gear up for large changes in their lives. They pick a date, and put all their energy into starting well. Acceleration is important. That first burst of movement gives you so much positive energy, it makes the goal doable, and that much closer. It may actually keep you going longer.
So, how to use this information to be more productive: identify the forces that are moving you, eliminate the bad ones, and reinforce the good ones.
Oh, and find more good forces.
Okay, time for another example, I guess.
I spend most of the day with my two-year-old son, chasing him through the house or picking up his messes. I absolutely love being home with my son, but I've found that the days I sleep in, just laying in bed, produce days that are unproductive and leave me feeling lazy. The direction and strength of my day's movement is shaped by the way I start it.
It will be the same for you. When you think about your goals, take a look at the environment around you, and consider for a moment all the things that push you around. Your morning habits, your husband's schedule, even your children's needs; see how they affect your daily activities and progress towards those personal goals. Granted, we're not going to be able to get rid of some of these things, but we can shape our responses and even minimize the influences that push us in the wrong directions.
Get rid of the things that push you backwards, and the forces that don't give enough acceleration. For me, I started setting an alarm, and writing a daily to-do list. Nothing holds me back from forward motion as much as being lazy in the morning, and not knowing what I'm supposed to do. Even those two small changes have made a HUGE impact in how much I get done.
You can do this. Whether or not you believe it, I know you can do this. I challenge you this week to consider the things that are pushing you around. Does your love for television keep you on the couch, and away from repainting your bedroom? Does your busy schedule keep you from taking your children to the park? Once you start to look at how they affect you, you can respond more effectively, leaving behind weak and harmful forces, and building up the positive ones that propel you towards your goals.
Who's up for some pool?