I will certainly botch my Newtonian metaphors in this piece, but I have enough knowledge of Wikipedia to know that Newton proclaimed three laws of motion in his Philosophae Naturalis Principia Mathematica. First, he found that objects that serve as rest tend to remain at rest unless they are subjected to some external force – this is called inertia. Second, the acceleration of an object is proportional to its net force and inversely proportional to its mass – this is force and acceleration. Third, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction – I don’t think this has a specific name, but it’s pretty famous.
Since I understand both of them and can base a simple metaphor on them, I’ll write about the first: Momentum matters. Whatever you’re doing right now, if all else is the same, you will likely keep doing it. Good or bad, productive or wasteful, smart or stupid, you are likely to do what you do at all times. This goes both ways: if you do good, you may find it easier to continue doing good. When you feel bad, you are more likely to be tempted to keep doing bad. Even if you’re not a physics expert, you can take advantage of this by keeping an eye on your current activities and planning them carefully.
First, keep a close eye on what you are doing – indolence means that even small deviations from what you are doing now make a difference. And while planning is important, as philosopher Mike Tyson taught, no plan survives when struck in the face. Therefore, even in a carefully planned scenario, micro-adjustments may be required to maintain an optimal course. And because of Newton’s first law, this optimal course is of crucial future importance. Not only is it important when you are productive in the present, but it will affect your work later, tomorrow, and in small and indirect ways, for the weeks and months to come.
Second, you should be extra careful with your planning. Since what you plan and do has lasting effects, plan accordingly and consider the Mike Tyson plan-punching factor. Whatever you plan to do has far-reaching implications – both for the execution of the plan itself and the inertia effects of those actions. In addition, the act of planning will create its own dynamic, good or bad. So make sure you not only do what you are planning, but also that you do it thoughtfully.
So if you’re still looking for a New Years resolution, give this one a try. Pay special attention to the impact of the dynamics of your actions and planning for at least a few weeks. You may like the results.
Matthew W. Schmidt has represented and advised clients in all stages of litigation and numerous matters, including insider trading, fiduciary duty, antitrust law and civil law RICO. He is an advisor to the law firm on litigation and investigations Crossbowman Fariello in New York, where he and his colleagues represent national and international clients in litigation, arbitration, appeals and investigations. You can reach him by email at [email protected]