When I’m at my best, I like to imagine myself as a freight train barreling down the tracks.
My destination is clear, my path is laid-out and forged in front of me.
My engines are roaring and the momentum of my progress is driving me forward at all costs.
I imagine encountering a set-back. I see it there in front of me on the tracks and watch as me-the-freight-train absolutely obliterates it into dust.
The freight train can’t be stopped.
Be the freight train.
Here’s what it takes.
Lay the Tracks
Without tracks, a freight train has too much friction to get started. If it is moving, it’s directionless and out of control.
On tracks the story is completely different. It glides towards it’s destination steadily and consistently.
To be the freight train, we need to lay the tracks and we need to do it before we expect to build momentum – it’s the tracks that allow the momentum.
Laying the tracks means having a clear vision of where you’re going and what it takes to get there.
Lay the tracks for your productivity and success by developing clarity for what is most important to accomplish today, this week and beyond.
Lay the tracks by predicting what obstacles may be ahead. Plan around the ones you can and prepare mentally for the ones you need to trek through.
Lay the tracks by creating a work environment that fits your needs, building efficient workflows and investing in quality tools you need.
It may seem like laying tracks is a lot of work but the tracks are what allow you to make the most of the effort you put in, build momentum and go fast.
Fire Up Your Engine
Freight trains start slow, building up speed and momentum over time. The first step isn’t to cruise – the first step is firing up the engine.
When you first start your work, you can’t expect to instantly be in a flow state. Your intention should simply be to begin the process of getting into flow with your work.
Get the first coal on your engine’s fire. Do the first thing you can to get your pistons moving.
Imagine the beating chug of the train as more fuel is added and the steady build up as it sets off. Feel that in your actions. Feel that it’s uncomfortable at first but steadily gets easier, natural and more fun as you go.
Feel how the tracks you laid are guiding you forward – there is no other path. Every small task, every small victory is another coal on your fire, burning and propelling you forward.
Suddenly it’s getting harder and harder to stop.
The Momentum Surges You Forward
Once your engines are roaring you can’t be stopped. Feel the weight of your progress behind you pushing you up the hills and surging you down them.
Up until this point, it’s taken effort and energy to get going but now you just go with the flow for as long as it will take you.
Looking at the trail of smoke behind you, at how far you’ve come, is just another reminder of what you’re capable of.
Maybe you feel a slight tension about something you’re not quite sure about – it’s a low-hanging branch in your path 100 yards ahead. But you’re a god damn freight train!
Keep going. Blast through.
Pulling into the Station
At some point you’re ready to rest. Maybe you’ve traveled through all the tracks you’ve laid ahead. Maybe you’ve encountered an obstacle that will require some new tracks to get around.
Instead of stopping right where you are and clogging up the tracks, pull in to a station. Come to a conscious stop.
Be aware of why you stopped (you could even write it down). That’ll help you lay the tracks you need to keep going later. Give your engines the rest they need.
Unlike a freight train, our momentum is lost slowly. It’ll be waiting there tomorrow and we’ll be back at, cruising onwards.
Be the Freight Train.
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