I’ve tried pretty much everything in the way of increasing productivity…
I’ve created to do lists, checklists, and goals for each day. I’ve dedicated special blocks of every day to writing, email, product creation, you name it.
I’ve read books about how to maximize productivity, how to get more done in less time, while at a higher quality.
Of everything I’ve read and out of everything I’ve tried, the greatest ally, tactic, or tip I’ve come across thus far, was given to me by Steven Pressfield, in his books, The War of Art and, Turning Pro
Both books cover a great deal about what it means to create something, far beyond what I’m going to talk about in this article. What they did that no other book had done before, is position doing work as a battle. A battle against an enemy that Pressfield calls, The Resistance.
What is the Resistance?
The Resistance is anything that keeps you from doing your work. It can be internal, in the form of fear, worry, or laziness. It can be external in the form of others who are trying to pry you away from your mission and your work.
The Resistance has a few definitive characteristics
The Resistance is persistent
You can defeat it in battle, even kill it, but it will always come back the next day. Battle against the Resistance is a daily endeavor for those of us who are trying to perfect our craft.
Whether you’re an athlete, a writer, a marketer, an artist in the conventional sense, or a person trying to lose a few pounds, but every time you start a diet, the world seems to conspire to get you to quite, you’re at war against the Resistance.
The Resistance is your fear of failure that prevents you from setting the big, hairy, audacious goals your soul truly wants to achieve, set, and create in your life. It’s your sense of worry that prevents you from aiming high enough, the voice inside of you that wants to remain small and safe.
The Resistance has to be defeated if you’re going to not only write the book your want to write, paint the painting your soul longs to create, or get paid to play the game you’re in love with, but it has to be defeated if you’re going to live.
Pressfield has one of the most eloquent and eye-opening definitions of ambition I’ve yet to read:
Ambition, I have come to believe, is the most primal and sacred fundamental of our being. To feel ambition and to act upon it is to embrace the unique calling of our souls. Not to act upon that ambition is to turn our backs on ourselves and on the reason for our existence. ~ Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro
Ambition isn’t merely what you want in life, it is life. To defeat the Resistance, is to live in accordance with what your soul truly longs for, what it feels this thing called life is all about.
The Resistance is cunning
The Resistance will try to rationalize your laziness. It’s your internal voice that tells you that the deadline can be pushed to tomorrow, that it’s “ok” to take just one, insignificant day off.
The Resistance will trick you if you don’t identify its existence, and wage war upon it.
If you ignore it, the Resistance will conquer you, leave you broke, weak, and as far away from accomplishing your goals, and the object of your ambition, as you can possibly be.
The only way to understand what it truly is, is to be aware that the Resistance exists, and it’s trying to kill you every day.
The Resistance is fear
The Resistance is relentless, persistent, and cunning. It can take the form of happy thoughts, of people you love, of selfish desires, but it’s always grounded, founded, and supported by fear.
Having read Mr. Pressfield’s books many times over, and waging war against this demon daily, I still find it hard to determine whether it’s the Resistance talking, or me. I have to focus to determine whether it’s a venture – or an adventure – I truly want to pursue, or one that’s guided by fear.
Fear always wants to lead us to safer pastures. Fear isn’t something we should avoid, or move with, but something we should oppose.
If something scares us, then it’s a pretty good determinant of something we should be doing, pursuing, moving towards, and giving every ounce of our energy to.
It’s the things we fear most, that we often want most.
Our greatest fears aren’t snakes, crocodiles, or spiders, but failure in what we’d most like to do with our lives. Our greatest fears in life are that we’ll die without doing what our souls know we should be doing.
When we take the first step to accomplishing this object of our fear, the Resistance throws everything it possibly can at us. It puts more on our plate, reasons with us as to why now isn’t the time, brings a relationship into our lives, the death of a loved one, another interest that’s easier, a route that is safer to take.
The Resistance is real. It’s cunning, persistent, and relentless
It will attack us when we’re about to embark on our great journey, or we’re about to realize is become something real, tangible, a creation. Identify the enemy if you want to live a strong life, ignore it if you want to live a small one.
Fight it everyday as the alarm rings and you’d rather stay in bed. Defeat it with every step towards perfecting your craft, facing your fears, and conquering that voice inside of you that wants nothing more than safety.
If you’re waging this war, and fighting this battle. I applaud you. You’re one of the few.