Building Motivation With the Snowball Effect

“What can you do when you’re lodged in a negative stream of events, and the mountain of problems saps all of your motivation to fix things?”

I got this question from a friend of mine who’s had a series of bad luck, compounded by his own negative emotional reaction to the situation.

If you’re feeling like you need to get out of a tight spot, but you lack the fighting spirit to “take arms against a sea of troubles” ??

Let me explain THE SNOWBALL EFFECT :

The first thing to understand about trends in life, negative or positive, is that they usually work like snowballs. A first negative or positive event, like a few isolated snowflakes, drifts down the side of the mountain with almost no effect. But – let another few and another few snowflakes get stuck together – and you get a snowball rolling down a hillside.

Let this ball collect snow and, bam!, you end up with an avalanche.

No one can stand alone and try to stop an avalanche with brute force. Once a strong string of negative events has taken over, you can try to hold back the tide with outstretched arms, but it won’t work.

So what to do?

Well, positive things work with the snowball effect too. Action breeds action.

What you need to do is to take positive action. Start with little things. Do the dishes. Tidy. Buy a rose for your wife/husband. Pick any small thing that will have an immediate positive effect on your life or your environment. The deed should be executable in less than 30 minutes and MUST have positive results immediately.

Once you’ve done this, pick the next thing. Perhaps something a bit bigger. Don’t tackle anything intimidating or enormous. Just get a good, positive trend rolling.

This is how to build motivation: by establishing a causal link between the effort you make and a quick, predictable and desirable outcome.

By getting a ball of positivity rolling, you’ll feel more empowered to, one by one, take on the more challenging issues in your life.


“Even the highest mountain is climbed in a series of steps.”

When trying to climb mount Everest, the best way to get discouraged is to stare at the top.

Big problems sometimes kill motivation just because of their size. If you look at a big issue in your life – like a mountain of debt – the magnitude of the problem can sap your will to take on the challenge.

So, the key to keeping your motivation in tact is to break the challenge into smaller steps. These milestones allow you not only to see progress, but also to see exactly what you have to do at each stage. While you might not see your way clear to making it up the whole mountain in one go, getting to the next plateau might seem manageable.

Your goal, then, is to break your problems down into manageable steps. Once you’ve got smaller things you can easily succeed at, you’ll not only see progress, but you’ll feel less demotivated by the sheer size of a problem.

Remember : the best way not to climb the mountain is to spend time staring at the top, so don’t do it! Don’t be a tourist admiring your own problems. Act. Action begets action.