“I’ll do it in 10 minutes” — You may have recently thought to yourself when confronted with the important work waiting for you.
Maybe you even got up and sat down to do it.
And just maybe, you might have even started.
But if you are reading this article right now then my guess is that this didn’t last.
I say this is not because I know anything about you (obviously), but because I know the majority of people struggle with consistently doing the important work.
The work that makes “Resistance” pop up.
What is “Resistance”?
I first came into contact with this term while reading the book “The War Of Art” by Steven Pressfield.
In it, Steven describes resistance like this:
“We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential. It’s a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to prevent us from doing our work. (…) it will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work.”
Steven goes on to compare it to the Alien or the Terminator:
“It is an engine of destruction, programmed from the factory with one object only: to prevent us from doing our work.”
A feeling that most creatives suffer with on a daily basis, especially when confronted with a “blank canvas”.
As he puts it:
“The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
In essence, it is the thing that stops us from sitting down to do the work we know we have to do… If we allow it, of course.
Now, does this mean only fully creative endeavors are haunted by this resistance?
Any task that requires some level of problem-solving will have the ability to bring this from you, and the bigger and the more important the obstacle ahead seems, the more you can be certain that this resistance will be there.
It’s the voice that tells us to “do it tomorrow” and just enjoy whatever pleasure we’re indulging in at the moment.
And it’s a voice we must battle constantly if we want to reach the goals we want.
Why must we battle?
You may be asking yourself — “Can’t I just accept that if this voice is there then it means I’m not meant to reach my goal?”
You sure can, but don’t think for a second that those who you consider successful are free of dealing with resistance whispering in their ear. All of them, from athletes to musicians entrepreneurs, are in a continuous daily battle to get what matters most done.
And if you ever want to achieve something of greater meaning, not only for yourself but for others around you, then you must learn to battle resistance.
Sure, you can go on delaying, maybe you'll achieve some goals here and there, get a decent job and live decently, you may even feel pretty comfortable with here you may get… But that’s all it will be.
Deep down you’ll always know that you never gave it your all, that all the potential you had will remain unfulfilled. Resistance will have won, and with it, take the dreams and aspirations you had.
If that bothers you in the slightest, then you have to battle.
Not for who you are right now, not for who your family wants you to be, not even for what you “should” be. You have to battle for who you can and want to become.
To fulfill the potential you know you have, that is screaming at you to take the step and get to work on it. To find the meaning and fulfillment and burning desire to live life to the fullest that only comes from being fully involved in our calling.
You know this.
So how do you battle resistance?
Quite simply, by doing it as early as possible.
The moment you feel the impulse to procrastinate appear is also the moment when it is the easiest to overcome it. There’s no momentum in its favor.
That being said, the easiest way to resist this temptation is to build momentum for the things you actually want to do.
Whether that be writing, reading, working on a project, or whatever it is your heart is calling for, the more momentum you build before you get to it, the easier it will be to overcome resistance.
This is one of the reasons why, for example, indulging in “one more video” can so easily turn into a 6-hour marathon of mindless youtube content. The more videos you watch, the easier it becomes to keep watching them.
On the opposite side, the more you can overcome these impulses and work while focused, the easier it becomes to do so.
With this in mind, the question becomes:
“How to build this momentum in our favor?”
How do we actually make it easier on ourselves to overcome this resistance?
Quite simply, with a pre-work routine… But not just any routine.
For example, if your routine consisted of 30 min of browsing social media followed by 1 youtube video, then you would be making it harder on yourself to get to work. You would be feeding the same behavior you want to stop.
For this to work, we need a routine that is focused on being mindful and present to the moment.
Why will this help?
By taking the time to be present and mindful, you will be slowing down your brain, clearing the mental fog, and consequentially, allowing yourself to see what is happening inside you with much more clarity.
Not only that but, by developing this mental clarity, you will be building momentum to keep it up and stay focused on the next task.
This will allow you to use the power of momentum in your favor, allowing for a much easier transition to the work you must attack without getting lost in the sea of distractions around you.
What should this routine include?
Before sharing the practices I consider essential to develop this ability to battle resistance, I feel obliged to point this out:
The simpler the routine, the better.
As long as you are using some of the core mindful practices, you are doing a disservice to yourself by overcomplicating.
With so many online products nowadays promising you all the success in the world by just learning the one magical secret that you've been missing, it becomes increasingly hard to believe that there are, for the most part, no secrets. Shocking, I know.
This is not to say that there aren’t better ways to do things than others, not at all. But the difference doesn’t lie in knowing what you should do, it lies in doing what you should do consistently.
And most of the things you should do, while not always easy, tend to be much simpler than we assume they are.
This is no different.
So to answer the question, this routine should include either/or meditation, reading, journaling, and a personal favorite of mine, cold showers.
Let's understand why.
If you’ve consumed some self-development content then you’ve probably come across someone recommending you to meditate. Whether that was a book, a video, an article, or a voice in your head, you’re probably aware that this practice exists.
Maybe you’ve never tried, and maybe you have been doing it for the past 5 years, religiously. Despite where you are progress wise, I want to share with you a new perspective on why it matters so much to fight this resistance and how to best do it for this purpose.
For starters, and the main reason why meditation is so important is that you’re taking control of your mental space. You’re becoming aware of the thoughts running through your mind, and consequentially, recognizing that while they are happening within you, these thoughts are not you.
The more you understand and believe in this idea, the easier it will be for you to not judge what is happening and to take action towards overcoming resistance.
Another crucial aspect of implementing this practice in your daily life is that you will be able to stop the momentum of resistance, procrastination, and laziness, reset, and then build momentum towards the important work you have to do.
Now, as with most practices that are worth doing, don’t expect to see results 1 week after starting. The more you do it the better you’ll get at it, and in the long term, step-by-step, you’ll be miles beyond where you are currently.
In the world of fast-paced information and headline reading, it is crucial to adopt practices to slow down and be aware of what we are doing.
As we saw previously, meditation is one of those practices.
Reading, if done correctly, is a perfect way to build momentum on top of it and get you in a prime state to attack your work.
What do I mean exactly by reading correctly?
Reading long-form content, AKA books, that are somewhat related to the work you’re about to indulge in or mindfulness, and doing so without interruptions.
The reason for the book to be somewhat related to what you’re about to do comes down to building momentum. If the most important thing that you have to do is, for example, to write a book about increasing productivity, it would only make sense that you read about that same topic.
You’re making sure your focus is being directed towards where it should.
Beware though, if you don’t hold yourself accountable to not read for more than the designated time you allotted for it, you can find yourself procrastinating on the actual work with the excuse that you’re “building momentum”.
While I don’t journal in the traditional sense, where you’d write about what is going on in your mind or reviewing my day, I do it in this format you’re reading right now.
From doing it for quite a while now there is one thing I know you are sure to get out of this exercise: Better thinking.
What I mean by this is that because you’re not just thinking about ideas, you’re actually developing them on the “paper”, you are forcing yourself to connect all the dots and make some sense out of them. In the process of doing so, at least from my experience, you’ll be able to “untangle” them from one another and find the clarity needed to make the best decision moving forward.
#4: Cold Showers
Allow me to elaborate.
While I have no idea of the physiological benefits or risks of this practice, one thing is for sure. They work.
Specifically in achieving 2 things. Energy and emotional endurance.
For starters, it’s impossible to not feel awake after dealing with the shock of the ice-cold water hitting your back. You’ll feel as if a double expresso was pumped straight through your veins.
While that sounds exciting, I wouldn’t consider it the biggest benefit of cold showers.
Above all, what this will build within you is the ability to take the hard steps when you know you have to. The extremely uncomfortable actions that you know are necessary.
For example, have you’ve ever been in a situation where you wanted to do something, but because of the emotional discomfort, you either delayed it or avoided it altogether?
Maybe it was going for that side hustle you love, to have the hard talk with your partner, to talk with that cute girl at the bar, or to just get up without pressing snooze.
All of these things have one thing in common: they require you to put aside short-term pleasure in favor of long term one.
And guess what cold showers teach you to do?
You guessed it, put short-term pleasure to the side.
You Have All You Need To Start, So… What’s Next?
The most important step: Action.
At this point, there is nothing else you need to know to get started.
Of course, even if you recognize that I know most of you won’t get started. Ever. You’ll delay with more research, planning, thinking about it, and unfortunately, never getting it done.
For the most part, resistance will have won. For the most part….
Because at this moment you are in control. You are aware of this terrible beast and you know how to stop it.
So don't delay.
Set a simple plan of what you're going to do, and immediately after, get started.
As a wise man once said:
“Today is yesterday’s tomorrow.”
Tomorrow you’ll thank yourself for the momentum you’ll have built.
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