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Success Made Simple
Life and the Law of Motion
By Michael Weston
Balboa PressCopyright © 2013 Michael Weston
All rights reserved.
The Law of Motion
"A body at rest tends to stay at rest. A body in motion tends to stay in motion, at the same speed and in the same direction, unless acted upon by another force."
—Sir Isaac Newton
The law of motion is what's known as a natural law. A natural law is defined as "a theory that posits the existence of laws whose contents are set by nature and are valid in all things." A common example of a natural law is the law of gravity, which was also attributed to Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727). If any of you jumped out of a tree or off a ladder while thinking you could fl y, as I did when I was young, you quickly learned that the law of gravity applied to you as it did to everyone and everything else. No matter how hard you flapped your arms, you still fell like a stone. There is no escaping a natural law.
Examples of motion are everywhere in the natural world. Aristotle (384-322 BC) tried to determine the causes of motion—what made things move—without any real success. However, Galileo (1564-1642) turned the scientifi c thinking on motion around by proposing that, rather than focusing on why things moved, scientists should work on discovering how things moved. As a result, a whole new philosophy of physics was created.
Sir Isaac Newton was born the year Galileo died. Sir Isaac Newton's work in the 1680s produced a nearly perfect answer to Galileo's proposal for investigation when Newton posited the law of motion. The law of motion, as it is known, is one such "natural law," and it applies as equally to the movement of planets around the sun as it does to the trajectory of a ball you might roll along the floor. In other words, natural laws apply equally to all things. That includes us.
"If you think the way you've always thought, then you'll do the things you've always done and keep getting what you've always gotten."
The first part of Newton's law of motion relates to inertia. Inertia is the resistance of an object to a change in its state of motion. For example, if you place a ball in the middle of a flat, even floor, it will remain there. It won't roll off or just fly away. If you roll it, all things being equal, it will tend to roll in a straight line.
If you apply the principle of inertia to people, it means that we are likely to continue doing whatever it is that we have been doing. Inertia is what keeps us doing the same things the same way that we have always done them. You might also call them habits of behaviour. If what you have been doing in your life has been serving you well and is taking you where you want to go, then inertia is your friend. If parts of your life have not been going the way that you want them to, then inertia is something you must struggle against. Inertia is your natural resistance to change your habits of behaviour. Habits are simply well-worn ways of thinking.
Change is not something that comes easily for most people. In fact, many people will go to great lengths to avoid having to make changes in their lives. We all fear change to one degree or another. Have you ever been to a class, a meeting, or a seminar that has carried on over a number of sessions? Have you noticed how, after each break, people always seem to return to the same seat? That is inertia in action. For many people, even changing seats presents a real mental challenge. Try sitting in a seat that was previously occupied by someone else and watch the person's reaction. Even small changes are not easy, but the ability to make changes is an absolute necessity if you're going to improve any aspect of your life.
All things on this planet are in motion at all times. Our planet is hurtling around the sun at about 110,000 kilometres per hour (68,000 mph). Within the temperate zone, the earth is spinning on its axis at about 1,000 to 1,700 kph (620 to 1,060 mph). Like it or not, everyone and everything is in motion all the time.
"The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time."
We are also constantly moving through time. An average life consists of about 30,000 days. That is the average number of days between the day we are born and the day we die. That's about 720,000 hours. If we subtract the average number of hours spent sleeping, we are left with about 480,000 waking hours to build this thing we call life. If you are reading this, you have probably already used up a large percentage of those hours.
What each of us needs to remember is that we experienced an incredible amount of good luck simply by being born. No one can legitimately say he or she has never been lucky because we all effectively won the lottery at birth. Out of the millions of possible genetic combinations that could have occurred at conception, we were the lucky ones. Yes, at birth, we may not all be equal in the attributes that a fickle society has chosen to value at this point in time, but we do all have an average of 30,000 days given to us. We each have a combination of characteristics, skills, and abilities that are unique to us. Like snowflakes, there is no one else in the world exactly like us. As a result, each of our lives will be unique too. It is up to each of us, as unique individuals, to determine what attributes we decide are important to us and what things we should strive for.
Speed and Direction
The second part of the law of motion has to do with speed and direction. If you roll a ball along the floor, you can roll it fast or slow. You can also roll it in any direction you desire. However, once the ball leaves your hand, it will be at the speed and in the direction that you rolled it.
In life, we're each moving at a given speed and in a certain direction. Simply stated, as we move through life, we must be moving in a direction. Movement requires a direction, and that direction is either towards the things we want in life or away from the things we want. The speed at which we are moving is determined by the decisions we make and the actions we take.
Given that this is occurring, whether we like it or not, it is important that we understand and accept it and that we learn to exert control over as much of it as possible so that we are going in the direction and at the speed we desire.
The final part of the law of motion relates to the "other forces" that can change both the speed and the direction of an object. If you roll a ball along the floor, it won't continue to roll indefinitely. The law of gravity will keep the ball on the floor, which will create friction. That friction will slow the ball down over time. For example, the ball will roll farther on tiles than on carpet because there is less friction on tiles. Wind can change the direction of the ball. If the ball hits a wall, the impact will cause the ball to lose speed and change direction.
Once that ball leaves your hand, it is out of your control and is subject to a host of other forces that will impact its journey.
Our personal journeys through life are also influenced by a host of other forces. These forces fall into two primary groups. There are those things in life over which we have no control, and there are those over which we do have control. Even though we can't control everything that happens to us in life, we can control our reactions to the things that happen. This gives us the ability to capitalize on the good things that happen unexpectedly and to mitigate the negative impact from the bad things that happen.
"Remembering you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose."
—Steve Jobs, Apple CEO, 2005 Stanford University address
Here is the unvarnished truth: you can't get out of life alive. It's that simple. No one is going to achieve the things they want to achieve in life once their time is up. Unless you believe in reincarnation, you're not coming back. This is a one-way trip. There is no second chance. Therefore, it makes no sense at all not to pursue the things that are important to you in life, and you should do it now. You have been given the precious gift of life. Don't waste it. This is your one shot to make a difference in the world. Steve Jobs said he wanted "to make a ding in the universe." I don't think anyone could reasonably argue that he didn't do just that. You too have the ability to make your mark in the world.
Unfortunately, I think the reason most people don't make their mark is that they really haven't thought about, decided on, and committed to whatever that mark is. It doesn't need to be some grandiose plan. It may be as simple as raising your children to be the best people they can possibly be. It may be to become the best friend anyone would ever hope to have. The important thing is not what kind of mark you choose to make in the world, but that you thought about it, chose it, and then made it happen. When you were born, you were given about 30,000 days, so do something special with them.
Don't drift through life in the grey haze of getting through the day, week, month, etc. Decide what you're going to do in this life, and then get out there and make it happen. The only chance you have to make your mark is between now and the end of your 30,000 days. Don't count the days; make the days count. No one achieves his or her goals in the graveyard, except the Undertaker.
None of this is meant to frighten or depress you; it is meant to make you think about where you are in life, right now, and the direction in which your life is heading. It is also meant to create a sense of urgency in doing what's necessary to get moving in the "right" direction. The direction you consciously choose. Make today the beginning of your new "journey to making a difference." Start now and don't let anyone or anything get in your way. It's your life, no one else's. While we may share our lives with others, at the end of our days, we each go into the pine box alone. Last I heard, they still have a "one-to-a-box" rule.
Why is taking stock of where we are in life important? As with any journey, it is important to know the starting point. If we don't know where we are, we don't know what we need to do to move towards what we want in life. Regardless of whether you're happily aware or painfully aware of where you are in life, it is vital that each of us is honest with ourselves, as we go through this book, in order to maximize the benefits from reading it.
"Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you."
Every one of us was born rich. The most valuable assets we have are not our houses, our cars, our investments, or our bank accounts. The most precious thing known to man ... is time. The most valuable asset we have is life.
Time is the one asset that both rich and poor are born with. Time isn't dependent upon wealth, intelligence, beauty, physical prowess, or any of the attributes society tends to use to establish the relative "success" of an individual. Time is given freely to each of us. You can spend it on your family, your friends, your health, your finances, the TV, the Internet, or whatever else you choose. You can invest it wisely—or you can waste it foolishly. What you do with your time is up to you. A prosperous life is about striving to improve the quality of that time.
Prosperity isn't about having a flashy house and a great car, if it means you sacrifice your health and lose touch with the people you care about to get them. It's not a good trade to have lots of money if you are doing something you hate because it goes against the values you hold dear. Living a prosperous life is not about sacrificing one part of your life to subsidize another. Time is the currency of your life. We must each spend that currency wisely.
Too often, we allow ourselves to get side-tracked by urgent things we must do now, so that we never seem to get around to doing the important things we need to do to build the life we want. "I'll do it tomorrow" is a phrase repeated often by many of us. The problem with "tomorrow" is that it never comes. When tomorrow gets here, we call it today. In fact, today is yesterday's tomorrow, and as each tomorrow arrives, another of our 30,000 days has slipped through our fingers. Too many of us wasted yesterday, are wasting today, and will likely waste tomorrow too.
Each day, we must ask ourselves, "What did I accomplish with the opportunity that today provided me? What did I do today to move myself towards the life I aspire to lead?" If we don't stay focused on the important things in life, we will inevitably discover that the life that might have been will have slipped through our hands, one "tomorrow" at a time.
It is critical to your success that you understand and accept that you are moving unstoppably through life. You have no choice in this. Each day that passes is one more of the 30,000 days that make up your life that's been spent. By the time you reach the age of twenty-one, you will have used up about 25 per cent of those days. By the age of forty, you have used almost 50 per cent of your available days. At sixty, almost 75 per cent of your days will be behind you.
That said, the opposite is also true. At twenty-one, you have 75 per cent of your life to look forward to. At forty, you're still not halfway there, and at sixty you still have more than 25 per cent of your life ahead of you. No matter how old you are today, you have all the time you need to do the important things. Most of us will have tomorrow, another week, another month, and even another year. In fact, most of us have several decades left in our lives. We have all the time we need to live the life we choose to lead.
"Most people over-estimate what they can accomplish in a year and under-estimate what they can accomplish in a decade."
We still have lots of time and a wealth of opportunity to show the world what we can do. However, we can just as easily let our tomorrows slip by, just as we let our yesterdays slip by. We don't have an endless supply of days. To achieve success in any area of your life, you must be able to spot opportunities quickly, make fast decisions, and take action immediately. You must live your life with a sense of urgency. If you're going to stand, stand; if you're going to move, move; but don't just wobble. Opportunities come to all of us, but opportunity is like a snowflake that sparkles brilliantly in your hand for only a moment before it melts away. You must be ready to move when the next opportunity presents itself, because you never know when it will happen next.
While we each start off with an average 30,000 days, it's important to remember that that is just an average. Some things we can't change. Hereditary factors can lengthen or shorten it, but that's still the average. Some things you can change. If you eat junk food, get overweight, smoke, drink too much or engage in other high-risk activities, you can shorten it. If you stay fit, eat well and avoid doing the things you know you shouldn't do, you can lengthen it. Either way, it's up to you.
We'll use about 25 per cent of our lives getting through school and preparing for what lies ahead. We'll use almost another 25 per cent of our lives getting from retirement to the finish line. That means that we have just over 50 per cent of our lives, or 240,000 waking hours, within which we will build our careers, our families, and most of what we will look back on as life.
One of the principles propounded in the Tao Te Ching is that we can only go one of two directions in life. We can either move towards what we want or away from what we want. If you think about it, you begin to realize the importance of that principle. There is no middle ground. If you are not moving towards what you want in life, than any other direction you go, is the wrong direction.
Since everyone seems to focus on it, lets take, for example, money. You're either saving it or spending it. There is nothing else you can do with it. You're doing one of those two things with every dollar you get. Is your current proportion of saving to spending moving you toward, or away from, your financial goals? If you want to lose weight, it's a simple matter of "input" and "output." How many calories are you "putting in" your mouth versus how many calories are you burning up by "putting out" effort?
You will find that most things in life are binary. They are the opposite sides of the same coin. Save money /spend money; gain weight/lose weight; make friends/lose friends; joy/despair; summer/winter; sunshine/rain and on and on. Life is made up of both sides of each coin. You can't have one side of the coin without the other. In most cases, you wouldn't even recognize one side of the coin without having experienced the other. For example, you would not know what being warm was like, unless you have also experienced being cold.
Excerpted from Success Made Simple by Michael Weston. Copyright © 2013 Michael Weston. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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