An object at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by an external force. An object in motion tends to continue at a constant velocity unless acted upon by an external force.
– Newton’s First Law of Motion (my summary)
The bad news: Newton’s first law, the law of inertia, works as well on you and me as it does on the ball bearings in your high school physics experiments. The habit of immobility and inaction is as powerful as (maybe more powerful than) the habit of action.
The good news: we don’t have to wait for an external force to act upon us. We generate our own internal forces, and can choose to get up and get going at any time.
When we’re inactive and immobile, it often seems like all the forces of the world are acting to keep us that way. We’re tired, we have so many responsibilities that keep us from our dreams, debt or rent or baby formula is sucking us dry and leaving us with nothing. And it’s just so much easier to sit on the couch and watch another episode of Big Brother. Going back to high school physics, it’s like we’re the stationary bearing–except instead of sitting on a flat tabletop, we’re at the bottom of a bowl. Any effort at all leads to an uphill climb, and probably a long one.
But inertia helps you on the climb. You may not move steadily up the whole time; you’ll wobble, switch back and forth from time to time, maybe even roll backward occasionally. But even when you roll back, you’ll stop higher than you started before you were moving.
And unlike the ball bearing, you get to choose when to stop your downhill roll. The external force is an internal one.
Eventually, you’ll reach the edge of the bowl and discover a gentle slope down instead of a sharp drop. And all you have to do is kick back and pick up speed.
At least, that’s what I’ve heard. I’m still on the uphill part, and from what I can see I’m a long way from the top. But I’m rolling, and inertia helps me keep moving.
What about you? Is your inertia holding you still–or carrying you forward?