The idea, or interpretation of “resistance”, as it is used in this post, was originally authored by Steven Pressfield in his book, The War of Art.
What is Resistance?
For the purposes of this article, think of resistance as the invisible force that fights against you to keep you from completing your work, or to keep you from being generally productive. It takes many forms, and the greatest danger it poses is that, if you don’t actively watch out for it, resistance can destroy your focus, your work, and even your business.
Take the following pieces of advice well to heart because this will keep it from beating you.
1. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
One of the worst things that can happen to you when you’re on a roll and blasting through a project is for some little distraction or irritant to interrupt your good vibes, like a phone call or a text message that just sends you off the deep end. Don’t let it send you off the deep end.
No matter how abhorrent that message may be—set it aside for now, forget about it, and get back into your work. If that’s impossible because it demands your attention, then you might think about bringing in someone to field that interference for you.
2. Recognize Resistance
Like any enemy, you have to see resistance coming if you’re going to be able to fight it. Since resistance is found in a variety of things, you will recognize it quicker by looking for its effects, rather than the thing, itself. If for any reason something makes you not want to work, but instead you want to quit before completion—that’s resistance.
Whether you get depressed, tired, panicked, intimidated, or confused while you’re trying to reach a goal, then you’ve just encountered resistance in all its insidious glory. Seeing it for what it is, is half the battle.
3. Deal with Problems Quickly
Problems and issues, whether expected or unexpected, are unavoidable and will pop up from time to time. The best reaction you can possibly have to these problems is to jump in and handle them as soon as you encounter them; and if possible, have somebody at your side who can resolve some of those problems for you.
The longer you let them lie, the more potential they have to grow and become more urgent, not to mention taking up space in your mind through subconscious attention.
4. Set Your Goals, and Keep Them in Front of You
A key to maintaining focus is to keep your goal in front of you like a perspective point on the horizon towards which everything you do is constantly heading.
There may be various projects or directives that you’re working towards at a given time, but a central and very tangible destination that you can look to when things get bumpy is a powerful weapon against resistance.
5. Find an Ally—Talk it Through
Once you understand how pervasive it is in our daily lives, you may find that beating resistance isn’t always something you can do on your own.
Find a partner, professional or otherwise, who you know will have your back, and who you can regularly hang out with and strategize how to overcome your obstacles. The importance of a trustworthy ally can’t be overstated.
6. Resistance Attacks from the Inside
Resistance is not limited to external factors that attack you from without. In fact, the forms of resistance that are more crippling tend to be internal, pitting your own mind and emotions against you.
This is why it helps to try and be aware of the direction of your thoughts, and it is why mental focus is so important. And we know that mental focus is important, of course; but it doesn’t come naturally to all of us, so it could take a lot of practice.
7. Always Go on the Offense—Don’t Be the Victim
It’s all too easy to feel sorry for yourself and cast yourself as a victim. Avoid this at all costs because there is nothing that will stop productivity faster. When you assume the role of a victim, that means that all you’re doing is blaming someone or something for the hardship that you’re experiencing, while doing nothing to move beyond it.
Instead, you should accept that whatever the hardship is, has already happened and is done. Then, rather than taking pity on yourself, you figure out how to move past it and get back to work.
Resistance is what stops us from achieving our goals and realizing our dreams. You can overcome it if you’re always conscious of it, but it is a daily battle.
The key is to remember that it comes from within yourself, as well as without, and comes at you in different forms—but resistance always wants to make you stop your work. Your work is everything and will open the door to your future.