Last week, I entered a humorous speech contest and took 2nd (out of 3).
I don’t consider myself to be a comedian or someone who is capable of delivering a funny speech. In fact, writing the speech tested every fiber of my willpower and forced me to challenge how I think about myself.
Just thinking about writing the speech caused me to come up with every single excuse NOT to do it.
Anytime I tried to write the speech one of the following would happen:
- I would get scared and my throat would tighten up
- I would tell myself that I would work on it tomorrow
- I would check email non-stop
- I would say I really need to do it and then go start working on something else
I even tried using accountability strategies (such as telling my mastermind partner), and that did not work.
Things got, bad… REALLY BAD.
Things got so bad, that one day I sat down to write my speech and instead of writing it, I spent 2 HOURS perfecting my passport renewal application.
Are you kidding me?
Seriously…. what was going on?
I thought about it for a while, and the answer hit me like a ton of bricks.
I was going through a classic case of resistance.
One of my favorite authors Steven Pressfield wrote a book called the War of Art. In the book, he defines resistance as any excuse which prevents us from doing the work that actually matters.
We feel resistance when doing anything creative, entrepreneurial, or attempting to start a new business. It also happens when we start a new exercise or diet program. Typically, anything that would benefit us in the short-term or long-term will generate some form of resistance.
A good rule of thumb is: the greater you feel the resistance, the more likely it’s something you MUST do.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Resistance
Resistance takes many forms. My hope is that after today you’ll be able to notice these symptoms and deal with them in a way that makes sense for you.
One important thing to remember:
- Resistance is not you. It’s your lizard brain (subconscious mind) just trying to protect you and keep you safe. Back in our cave man days, if we did something stupid and got kicked out of the tribe, that usually meant death. This way of thinking is still wired in our minds.
The First Symptom of Resistance: Fear
Have you ever seen that pretty girl (or guy) across the bar and wanted to go talk to her (or him), but you just couldn’t do it?
Did your chest tighten up and your heartbeat rise? Did you tell yourself you would do it later after you got a drink?
That same feeling happens when we try to do the work that actually matters. Fear usually just means that you are stepping out of your comfort zone.
The Second Symptom of Resistance: Procrastination
I’m sure everyone reading this has dealt with procrastination at some level so I won’t go crazy here.
We all have things in life that we put off: Starting an exercise program, eating healthy or starting a new business.
Whatever it is, don’t beat yourself up for not doing it (that never works). For now, just notice yourself making excuses.
The Third Symptom of Resistance: Mindless Internet Surfing
I can’t tell you how many years of my life, I wasted on NFL.com. Reading stats, over and over again (like they were really going to change). And for what?
I cringe when I think about how many years of my life I wasted on mindless internet and Facebook searching.
Where would we be if we removed the 6+ hours we waste each day?
The Fourth Symptom of Resistance: Feeling Really Tired
Have you ever tried to start exercising after some time off? Did you feel yourself getting really tired right before?
How about trying to start a reading habit? How far did that get?
Your mind will play some crazy tricks on you, when you are trying out new habits. Don’t give in to the demons.
Just push through.
The Fifth Symptom of Resistance: Those Voices Inside Your Head
I find that I have TWO very distinct voices in my head whenever I’m working on a creative project.
One part of my head sounds just like Scarlett Johansson from the movie ‘Her’. She’s very soft and sweet and tells me to rest when I’ve had a long day.
I often listen, because…. well she sounds like Scarlett Johansson.
There is another distinct voice in my head that a lot like the Drill Sergeant (Lee Emery) from Full Metal Jacket.
Generally the words the drill sergeant says to me are a lot less nice than Scarlett, and he say’s a lot of choice 4 letters words to emphasize how much I suck.
The Sixth Symptom of Resistance: ‘Actually Wanting to do Your Taxes’
You know the resistance has fully taken a hold of you when you would rather do your taxes than do the work that actually matters.
What did you do instead of doing the work that actually matters?
Where do we go from here?
Most of us live in comfort and nothing happens.
We spend our lives dreaming and watching others live theirs. If we want to do the work that matters it’s time to step out of our comfort zones, find our edge and live just beyond it.
This is where all the magic happens.
The Next STEP
We all need a kick in ass sometimes (myself included).
Take a second and think about that thing you are putting off.
- Are your finances a mess?
- Are you waiting until after the holidays to start exercising?
- What about that brilliant business idea that you think is genius?
Now think about all of that bullshit excuses you told yourself and recognize that you are in completely control.
The only roadblocks are the ones you have created.