Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard or smelled. But it can be felt. 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 shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work. – Steven Pressfield.
You know it is there. It pulls against you. It makes your eyelids heavy. It makes your mind wander. It makes you want to check Twitter or Facebook ‘just one more time’ before you get down to what you really need to be doing. It causes you to absentmindedly say, ‘uhm hm’ to your child, who only wants you to look in their eyes and pay attention to them. It makes you hungry for a snack the moment you pick up your paintbrush or sit down with your laptop to write.
Pressfield calls this the Resistance.
I know Resistance. And I hate him.
When I sit down to write, suddenly, I need to check my e-mail. My bathrooms need
to be cleaned. My dog’s toenails need to be clipped. Oh. Have you noticed that something in
the fridge stinks? I should clean that out. It feels like Spring. Perhaps I should get those leaves
raked up. My throat hurts. And, actually, if I pay attention to it, my head hurts too. I start thinking about how little I see my friends now. Maybe I’m a worthless friend. Maybe I suck at life. I could be a better parent, better wife … I am the worst. I probably am not in the best frame of mind to write. Maybe I should wait until later this afternoon when I feel better. And what was I going to write about anyway? It’s not like I have anything of value to say.
Here is where it lands. The Resistance starts out by telling you about all the things you should do instead of this venture you feel called to and it ends up assaulting your personhood – telling you that you have no business doing this thing, because you are deficient, less-than and small.
I am not small. I have something to offer. I have something of value to bring. And so do you.
You know how there are things that get your ire up? For some of you, it is competition, for others of you it might be someone telling you to do something. For me, it is when something gets in my way and blocks my goals. That frustrates me INTO action. Nothing galvanizes me more than when someone tells me I can’t do something. And that is what the Resistance is all about. When I recognize it (and for me, that is the issue), I can fight it.
Some things that help me fight well:
1- Knowing what I am using my primary energy for.
Making a choice to narrow it down. I want to be a painter, but this is not the season of my life to do this. Right now, I am focusing on being a coach – on perfecting my coaching skills and helping people overcome their hurdles. There will be other times to paint. I want to do more writing … but it is not my PRIMARY energy. Building my coaching business is my primary (meaning first or highest in rank or importance).
What do you want to prioritize? You have to KNOW. It can’t be vague and it can’t be six different things. Because to work on everything is to make progress in almost nothing. Are you focused on being a better parent? Too vague. Try, “I am working on praising him for something every day – seeing the best in him.”
2- Knowing what will help me.
TIME. ACTION. FEEDBACK. REPEAT. I have set aside 1/2 day a week to develop my marketing. That means, I sit my bottom in a chair and I don’t move until something has shown up on my website. Periodically I submit my message to someone who gives me feedback. I revise and do it all over again.
Right now, I have little to show for it, because I’m at the front end of it all. But I have to believe that a consistent application of time and effort will yield results at some point. It has to, because this is the way life works. If you want to get physically fit, you can’t do it once a week – you have be put regular time into it. If you want a better marriage, being engaged on date night only is not going to connect you like it would if you were relationally investing every day.
What will help you do what you are called to do?
3 – Knowing what pulls me away from my goal.
I don’t schedule ANYTHING during my marketing blocks. No doctor’s appointments, no dentists, no grocery shopping. Web work only. No phone calls. Working on the business ONLY. Because I require blocks of time to get into the “zone” and I’m highly distractible. When I get pulled out, it’s hard for me to go back. You may not be that way, this is me I’m talking about.
What pulls YOU away? The internet? Putzing around the house? Letting other people’s stuff become your stuff? I do understand that you probably don’t have the gift of time like I have right now – and up until this year I didn’t have it either. There are seasons where its difficult to even find 5 minutes. But you perhaps don’t need the volume of time I need to accomplish your calling. Each of us is different in the art that we bring.
The real question is – what pulls you away from your art? (and by art, I mean the thing that you do best that you bring to the world). Figure out what hinders your forward movement and don’t just fight it with will power – come up with a way to actually address and deal with the hindrance.
Another thing that saps my energy and dissuades me is conflict. I cannot access my deep heart when I am upset. I feel this part of me is integral to my creativity and productivity. So I avoid conflictual situations that I can have no bearing on. I stay out of political wrangling. I avoid theological bantering. I’m not interested in being loudly opinionated about anything. I am not saying I don’t have strong convictions – I do. But there is a time and a place where my words and voice accomplish something – I’m all for that. But ineffectual energy, hissing out of my soul like a tire losing air – that is not good use of me. It serves no one and it’s exhausting.
What do you need to curtail in order to focus your energy?
4 – Knowing who has your back.
I need people who remind me that I can do it. People who encourage me and who tell me that they love me. People who are excited about my latest venture and can say, “I see you succeeding” – even when I can’t. Especially when I can’t.
Do you know who your people are? The ones who will gently hold you accountable and who will love you? If you don’t have people like that in your life, the way to acquire them is to start BEING that person for someone else.
5- Knowing who is ultimately in control.
I believe in a God who designed me for something. And when I live out that best
version of me, when I live out God’s breath in me … I am most fully alive and shed positive
light onto what it is to have a relationship with Him.
So I pray.
For insight. For my path to intersect with people smarter and more talented than I am. For strength to fight the Resistance. For love to give to people well with my limited time. For ears to hear Him and a will to respond. For growth and maturity.
I pray for courage to live out the me I was designed to be.