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Newton’s 1st Law of Success: Perpetual Motion

Newton's Law of Success

We all know about Sir Isaac Newton.

Gravity, the apple, inventor of calculus.

Some of his most famous work was his Three Laws of Motion.

This post is the first in a series of three, looking at how Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion are also really Laws of Success. They each apply to us every day and our understanding of them will lead us to greater happiness, fulfillment and achievement.

Let’s get started.

Newton’s First Law of Motion: An object in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by an external force.

So if we rolled a marble on a glass floor, it would keep going and going but eventually stop because of gravity and the friction of the glass table. When an asteroid flies through outer space, it will keep moving straight ahead practically forever until it runs into something or its course is changed by the gravity of some planet.

But how does that apply to you?

This idea was introduced to me by Steven J. Anderson, Behavioral Physicist and all around great guy.

Have you ever had one of those days where things started off bad and then seemed to get worse and worse as the day moved on? Then you go to bed worrying about what else could happen tomorrow and dream about more bad stuff. Sure enough you wake up the next day in a bad mood and before you know it you have put together a bad week.

This is an example of an object in motion in a constant direction. Something happened to you in the morning that was equivalent to you pushing that marble on the glass floor. So your day proceeds in that bad direction. It will continue in that bad direction unless something acts upon it to change its direction or stop it. Some outside force has to come into play.

You are that force!

A bad experience doesn’t have to become a bad day. A bad day doesn’t have to become another bad day or a bad week. If you aren’t happy with the way your life is going, you have to act upon it to change its course or else it will just keep going the way it has been.

Here are some things you can do to change or improve the direction of your life:

#1 – Talk to yourself!

The things we say to ourselves on the inside have a big effect on how we feel about our day. If you have had a crummy day, don’t lay in bed and think about all of the bad things that happened. That just accelerated the marble in the wrong direction. Instead, why not read something motivational or inspiring? (Of course I think is a great source!). Or, you can try neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). NLP is a a process where you basically tell yourself, out loud or on the inside, positive phrases about who you want to be or how you want to live.


For example, some of my favorites are, “I can do hard things!”, “My mistakes make me stronger!”, “Don’t forget to be awesome!”, “I can do anything I set my mind to!”, “Tomorrow will be the best day of my life!” Sounds a lot like the old Stuart Smalley skit from Saturday Night Live.

When you say these things to yourself, your brain starts to release the hormones that make us feel happy and motivated. It literally “gets the juices flowing.” When you are able to go to sleep with those types of thoughts in your head, you will sleep better and wake up more energized for the next day. You will have pushed your marble in the right direction.

#2 – Set goals for yourself.

Another great way to change poor perpetual motion is through goal-setting. When you set goals for yourself you are basically saying, “Here is where my life is going but I want it to be a little better. So I’m going to make a plan to change to this better direction.” You are building up the energy that will then be exerted on your “marble”. Without goals, life tends to flow along wherever the world takes it, like a stream running down a hill. It will follow the past of least resistance, which usually isn’t the path to success.

Choose some things you would like to accomplish in at least three areas of your life: career, family, health, spirituality, relationships, etc. Then write down at least one aspect that you would like to improve on or accomplish in each area. Make sure your goal isn’t abstract, like “I want to be more friendly.” or “I want to eat healthier.” True goals have to be specific and measurable. A good example would be, “I am going to give a compliment to 5 people every day.” or “I am going to lose 5 pounds before June by not snacking on candy every day and exercising 30 minutes a day.”

Once they are written down, are specific, and have a deadline, you need to post them somewhere where you will see them every day. I prefer the bathroom mirror or on the monitor of my computer at work.

If you do this, you will notice within a few days that the direction of your life has been changed for the better.

#3 – Change your routine

We’ve all heard the term “stuck in a rut.” It doesn’t have a very positive sound to it, does it? Our lives are, for the most part, a series of patterns or routines. We repeat them every day. Some of them, like going to work, cannot be changed. So what do we do when negativity sneaks into our daily routine? I find that some simple changes to the pattern can have a ripple effect that improves the whole day. I cannot easily change the fact I go to work every day but I can choose what I listen to on the way there. I can choose what route I take. I can choose to leave early enough to have a relaxing drive instead of leaving late and frantically trying to get there on time.

Small variations in the overall pattern of our day allow us to find new experiences and get us out of the “rut”. Often times we are stuck in a rut by our own choosing. If the pattern of our day is not working out for us, change the pattern! Mixing it up a little will affect your overall mood and help you go in the right direction.


Signature of Isaac Newton

Signature of Isaac Newton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As Newton taught us, our life will head in the direction we set for it. If we aren’t careful, other factors will enter and try to pull it down or to a stop. We need to apply constant pressure in the right direction or alter the course if we see it veering away from our intended goal. Apply Newton’s 1st Law of Motion, or as I call it, “Newton’s 1st Law of Success” and you will have a lot more successful days.

Next time we will talk about “Newton’s 2nd Law of Success: Acceleration”


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