Heraclitus of Ephesus, an early Greek Philosopher was one of the first to introduce the doctrine of change being central to the universe. “Everything changes and nothing stands still”. With the enormous advancements made in technology, this doctrine has never been more real. So let’s embrace change with some science!
Sir Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion lays a solid foundation for an engineer in his science but also as natural laws, they can be used in daily life to help us build a foundation for adapting to our constantly changing lives.
Newton’s First Law of Motion
Newton’s First Law of Motion states “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force”
In other words, our actions as we move through life are only making progress with the help of an ‘Unbalanced force’, however small. Put another way, if you want to change something, you need to introduce an unbalanced force into the scenario. This unbalanced force acts as an accelerator or decelerator. And the key to moving forward is to allow unbalanced forces that accelerate progress and prevent and remove forces that decelerate progress.
This also means, that everyday, with the help of unbalanced forces, we are constantly, incrementally changing. For example, we are going to add another day to performing our current jobs, which is bringing us closer to finishing a project, which, if successful, could in turn lead to a promotion and the sense of success and satisfaction that we search for. Without consciously realizing, change is already an ingrained habit.
Newton’s Second Law of Motion
So all we need to do to make change a more obvious habit is to be aware of the small changes we are constantly making towards our progression and seek opportunities to amplify them. This is supported by Newton’s Second Law of Motion, which states, “The acceleration of an object as produced by a net force is directly proportional to the magnitude of the net force, in the same direction as the net force, and inversely proportional to the mass of the object.” In other words, our progress will accelerate, the more energy and focus we place on it but will reduce the more ‘dense’ we become, with density defined very simply as a sense of things being “close together”
How does this apply in real life? Remember we are trying to amplify our already existing habit of progressive change. The energy and focus part is easier, we just add more effort and time but what about density? How can we undo the sense of being ‘Close together’? Below are a few ideas to un-dense your current regime.
1. Get more Space
Clear out the clutter or just don’t accumulate any. Think Space in any situation. Go outdoors much more often. The more space you connect to being around you, the fresher your outlook. Let Leonardo da Vinci’s renowned quote “Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication” inspire you.
2. Replace Rigidity with Flexibility
Rigidity is synonymous with a lack of motion. The more flexible you are, the more fluid your actions and you are likely to be more open to different ways of doing things.
3. Gain alternate perspectives
An alternate perspective expands your outlook and changes the way you engage with the same thing. Go out and meet new people. The few close friends can continue as your main support but in order to stretch your thinking, you need to connect with different communities who may share similar principles but a different way of looking at the same thing. And also, make an effort to establish new interests. Travelling is a great way to expose yourself to alternate perspectives. Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg in the book “How Google Works” refer to amazing ideas their employees come back with just by speaking to taxi drivers during their secondments abroad.
4. Undo your Comfort Zones
Comfort Zones are spaces within which you confine yourself, that provide an illusion of safety and a sense of nurturing. Staying in one keeps you where you are. Whenever you sense a comfort zone developing, quickly add a new variable to open the zone.
Newton’s Third Law of Motion
There are times when change arises from external forces. This could be restructures and the other unpredictable situations that appear to decelerate progress. Enter Newton’s Third Law. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. It’s how you act on the external force of change that decides what you will attract as the opposite reaction. In other words, “how you act” is the area you need to build a strategy for. If we act right, then we should, by Newton’s Third Law of Motion obtain a proportional return.
As an example of this, if you have just been fired, you could choose to get upset and impact everyone around you. Or you could choose to review your options, learn from your mistakes, improve your performance and do what it takes to get back in the game. You should get an equivalent return, such as a better job and a whole new perspective on how to create it.
Most of us were likely never taught to use Newton’s Laws of Motion for improving our daily life. But these laws that form Sir Isaac Newton’s foundations for the physical universe, can be interpreted to suggest that change is already the core of our life, a habit, that we simply need to continue fine-tuning.