You know the thing that you want to do, but for some reason (and sometimes really good reason) you are not doing the thing? That’s what author Steven Pressfield refers to as Resistance.
Resistance is described in a mythical fashion as a universal force that has one sole mission: to keep things as they are.
I’ve been fighting Resistance all my life but it wasn’t until I read his books The Art of War and Turning Pro that I actually understood what it was I was fighting.
Along my own journey as an Entrepreneur & Creative as well as a Coach, I’ve found significant traps set by Resistance that I wanted to share today–to help you break free of whatever is currently in your way.
The Myth of Certainty
The first trap is Resistance’s attempt to convince you there should be certainty and that if there is not, something is wrong. This is very common when starting a new journey towards anything when you have no idea what to do and why starting something new is so difficult because there is no blueprint that fits your situation yet Resistance makes you feel as if you should have all the answers.
For example, I am relaunching my YouTube channel. It’s currently called “Carabasetraining” and mostly workout related content that I’ve been posting since 2009, on/off. The channel has racked up a good amount of subscribers but its been a while since I’ve been consistently posting and now I am more inspired to post something different.
I come from a family of really good cooks so I’ve developed a keen sense of taste, combined with my knowledge of nutrition, I am going to put how quick and fun cooking videos on how to make good tasting, healthy food for the average person who wants to eat healthy and actually enjoy their food. But I have questions…
What should I call the show? Should I change the name of the channel? If so, to what? Should I make a longer form with more commentary or short quick instructions? Should I reverse engineer my content off of SEO or make what I want to make? How should I edit? Should I hire someone to edit? How much should I invest in that?
And so on and on….you get the idea. These are just some of many questions that have been running through my head. To ask any of those questions is to assume there is a right answer. There is not. But the Resistance wants you to go on a wild goose chase because if you attempt to find all the answers, you won’t do anything and if you don’t do anything you stay “safe”–meaning exactly where you are right now. This stuff runs deep into our subconscious where ultimately the Resistance is attempting to protect us from some deep dark fear.
The process to start on any new goal naturally seems overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t need to have all the answers. Even if you were presented with everything you needed and even if every question was answered, life would cause changes and you’d have to figure them out. It’s also unlikely that you would follow the outline. There is something about human nature that when you have everything you need, you can always find (or create) some problem you need to solve and distract you from your goal.
Another trap is the Resistance’s attempt to leverage the infinite space where no matter how much you do, nothing is ever enough. For me personally as an Entrepreneur, there’s literally no exact time when you can clock out. At any given point, there are always things you can do. I’ve learned and been forced to relearn time again that just because you can do something, does not mean you should do something.
Can Do vs. Should Do
Can do speaks to your abundant capabilities in this infinite universe where there is ALWAYS more. On a micro level as an entrepreneur, there are things I can always do but the same is true on a macro scale. There will ALWAYS be more to do and more out there. Shift your perspective from the illusion of completion to a set allotment with your highest priority tasks. This might just be you setting a specific amount of time to just figure out your highest priority tasks. It’s likely if you’re starting a new venture, you’re not going to know where to start. Don’t discount the time you spend figuring out your next step.
Also become aware of your frustration with your “lack of progress” while on your journey. It’s human nature to get flustered when you don’t immediately get what you want. Don’t let Resistance convince you that there’s something wrong with you. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth it. And if you had whatever it is you are working towards, you’d be happy for a minute then become discontent that you don’t have the next thing. It’s how we are wired.
Catch yourself when you are frustrated with your progress and seek objectivity. Make a list of all the things (no matter how small) that you’ve done thus far. Think about all the great things in your life, from your education to job to spouse – was anything easy and is anything perfect? No and no.
The simple definition of what you “should do” is what you feel is right at any given moment based on your highest values. It’s NOT based on your ego’s addiction to being distracted or some societal norm that only exists because enough people think it should exist. We must remember that every thing in our lives, from buildings to technology, was created by a human’s vision. All humans are imperfect. There is no right or wrong; only what you feel is right given what you know with the resources you have in that moment.
- Resistance is real and relentless but it’s limited. Resistance is limited to the power you give it. Take away its power by objectively questioning what is holding you back.
- Temper your expectations: There will be far more uncertainty than certainty. Things will not go your way. You will want to quit. But if you want it bad enough, you’ll keep going and find a way.
- Show up everyday to do your best with what you have on the given day. Good enough is good enough. Never feel like you “should” do anything. Do what you need to do as long as it’s you want to do AND is directly aligned with your highest values. If it’s not, stop and move on. When you get rid of things that are not a good fit, you make room for something great that will fulfill you on the highest level.
Joe Carabase is an Entrepreneur, Coach and Author. Check out his latest book here. You can follow @joecarabase on Instagram and Facebook for more inspiring content!
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