What is it that stops us from being all we can be, doing all we can do and living our best life?
Author Steven Pressfield calls it “Resistance,” and he always spells it with a capital “R.”
In The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle (2002), he calls Resistance “the most toxic force on the planet.” It comes in a myriad of forms, but they all work to prevent us from doing the things we have to do to accomplish our greatest aspirations and be our best selves.
Pressfield’s book is focused on the creation of “art,” but his labelling and calling out of Resistance applies to anything we really want and dream about.
- If you’d like to own a bigger retail shop, but don’t look for a larger location or at constructing an addition because you’re “just too busy,” busy-ness is your Resistance.
- If you want your manufacturing operation to branch into a new area — soft plastics or fishing line or tungsten weights — but you’re afraid you’ll fail and lose a lot of money, fear is your Resistance.
- If you want to create your own eCommerce site for your brick-and-mortar retail business, but worry that you’re too late to the game, worry is your Resistance.
We all face Resistance nearly every day, and we lose too many of those battles. We break our diet because “one cheeseburger won’t hurt.” We cease our exercise regimen because “it’s been a long day.” We don’t make the hard decision we know we should make because “things are basically okay the way they are.”
Few things of consequence can happen without defeating Resistance. Businesses don’t open, changes don’t get made, dreams don’t come true.
Most of us have more than one form of Resistance to overcome. Procrastination is common. Rationalization is absolutely ubiquitous.
I’m not sure I know anyone with a big plan who hasn’t told me at least once, “I’ll get it once I get these other things squared away.”
Of course, they’re mostly lying to themselves, which in almost every way imaginable is even worse than lying to someone else. When you lie to a friend or family member, you betray a trust. That’s really terrible. But when you lie to yourself, you betray your future and your chance at having a better life, which you would likely share with that friend or family member.
Unfortunately, most of us lie to ourselves on a regular basis. We let Resistance defeat us.
So what’s the solution?
I wish I had an easy answer, but, I’m an unsympathetic victim of Resistance, too.
The best answer I have — and one I try to put into effect as often as possible — can be summed up in a Latin proverb that’s around 2,000 years old.
Audentis Fortuna luvat. Fortune favors the bold.
If Resistance is what’s stopping me from doing the things I want to do and that could make my life better, I figure I need to combat it with boldness, aggressiveness — even when it could mean failure. After all, if I succumb to Resistance I have no chance of success. But if I can be bold, I just might get where I want to be.
On my good days, this does not mean blundering down a foolish path. I would not recommend that to anyone. Every bold action deserves a plan, but if you’re anything like me, planning itself can become Resistance. I know this from experience, too.
It’s very easy for me to conclude that I need more planning, more research, more consultation before making a move. Then, days, weeks, months or even years later I’ve still not taken a significant step toward my goal. I need more preparation, I tell myself.
But more preparation is too often just more Resistance—a never-ending cycle of Resistance at times. So I’ve learned that I have to begin before I’m “ready.” If preparation and ready are my Resistance, I must beat them to the punch and start before they even know I’m there.
Does it work? Sometimes. Certainly it works more often than yielding to Resistance. I know I’ll get the garage cleaned out if I just blunder in there and start emptying it into the front yard. I know I’ll get a story written if I just start making calls and doing interviews. I might make a few mistakes along the way, but they’re usually easy to correct. They might cost me a little time, but nothing like the time I waste with Resistance.
If I can begin my task and catch up later with preparation and readiness, I’m far better off.
Maybe the worst thing about Resistance is that we must battle it every single day. And we need most of those battles … maybe all of them.
I don’t know anyone who’s undefeated against Resistance, but if they’re out there, they’re living the life of their dreams.
What’s your Resistance? I bet it’s more than just one thing. Most of us have several dragons to slay.
How can you beat your Resistance?