I recently finished reading Steven Pressfield’s short book called Do The Work! The book is about fighting against the force that prevents you from doing anything important. Pressfield calls this force resistance. Have you ever noticed that you tend to put off important tasks in order to complete easier trivial tasks? That’s it right there, that’s resistance.
Since the ideas from the book are still somewhat fresh in my mind I thought I’d take the liberty of discussing some of my own thoughts as they pertain to resistance in this essay. Alright then, it’s time to get busy talking about resistance!
It almost goes without saying, but resistance is lethal to your dreams if you don’t learn how to overcome it. This is obviously not an earth shattering revelation, but that doesn’t make it any less important. As a blogger and writer I know this all too well. Frequently, I’ll catch myself using social media for “marketing”, but I know this is mere rationalization. I know that great content often markets itself and I also know that I should be spending more time writing or working on other projects, but, alas, resistance often gets the better of me.
Right now, for instance, I feel an urge to be cleaning out my email instead of working on this essay. After that, I’ll be probably drawn to Facebook for a dose of information sugar. So why am I drawn to tasks like checking my email? The answer is simple: there is a certain sense of satisfaction that comes with completing something and ticking it off our list. The worst part is that this satisfaction comes regardless of how unimportant the task is. The most dangerous part about these distractions is that they give us a false sense of accomplishment and delude us into thinking that were just too busy to ever do any work that matters to us. Talk about one of life’s great tragedies.
Is being aware of resistance a solution? Well, awareness is a step in the right direction, but it’s not going to help you in the slightest when it comes to doing the work. You can’t outsmart resistance because it is evolutionarily hardwired into the deep recesses of your mind. We humans are naturally hedonistic creatures who try to avoid pain and discomfort. Positive thinking won’t necessarily help either; it’s probably better just to embrace the suck because there is no magic formula or pill to help you overcome resistance. It requires work that will be undoubtedly hard, brutally hard. If you want to create, you better get used to it because speaking from personal experience, it never gets any easier. I hate to serve up a hackneyed platitude, but, if it were easy, everyone would do it (and you likely wouldn’t value it all that much if everyone could do it anyway).
When it comes to staying motivated to do work, one of the most important things I try to remind myself of is that benefits are not always delivered linearly with the amount of work done. You may spend year after year writing or working on a project with nothing to show for it, financially or otherwise. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t making progress though.
If there is one thing that I think most people fail to realize it’s that happiness and fulfillment don’t come the easy way. Money can come the easy way, but not happiness and fulfillment. The only way to succeed in life (i.e., to be happy and fulfilled) is to overcome resistance and do the work. The people who tell you that it’s easy are lying to you and the people who are lying to you usually have something to sell you.