Why we allow resistance to prevent us from doing what we ACTUALLY WANT TO DO when it comes to work and life has been of major interest to me lately.
I’ve been pondering things like, you know, why I was checking my email 43 times a day (Luckily I have won the war on Facebook and IG, turning off my feeds) rather than DO THE WORK or why I’d suddenly feel the need to dust every wood surface of my home office with pine-scented wood cleaner rather than DO THE WORK. Anyone who knows me knows I really can’t stand most forms of cleaning, so I sure as heck didn’t suddenly gain a new hobby.
By way of background, “DO THE WORK” for me means something pretty specific. I’m not lounging around in my pilates outfit eating wasabi peas all day watching “Veep” (Ok, ok, Last Tuesday, you win). Instead, I’m working with clients, writing blogs, speaking at and attending events, incorporating my business and the like. What took me awhile to realize was, that although those activities felt good and productive (and some of them ARE needed), they were…just activities. They weren’t actions toward my ultimate goal. Which, for the record, is to build a suite of online courses to help my people out AND to create international retreats. Instead, they were exactly what I called ’em above- “activities”.
And then I looked around and I saw people resisting everywhere- clients, friends, family, colleagues, people who call me for my complimentary consults– many of us are resisting the very thing we WANT to be doing.
It struck me as nonsensical so I set out searching for answers. I was open about it with some friends and colleagues and Aidan and a friend and I were talking about it when she recommended The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield.
As soon as I started reading it, I knew I had struck gold. Pressfield REALLY digs into the reasons we don’t do what we say we want to do and he gives us a framework through which to overcome aforementioned Wasabi-Peas in Pilates Pants Consumption. He says in many different ways that many of us are truly aligned with a path – we know what we’re meant to be doing- but we do LITERALLY EVERYTHING ELSE besides that one thing. This was essentially me for the month of April. I was super responsive via email, even more attentive than usual to clients and colleagues….and yet, nothing got done. What gives?
Some key takeaways:
Am I A Writer?: (Or a painter, or an entrepreneur, or a whatever it is you are). Self-doubt can be an ally. This is because it serves as an indicator of aspiration. It reflects love, love of something we dream of doing, and desire, desire to do it. If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.”
I’ll Get Started Once I Overcome My Fear: “The amateur believes he must first overcome his fear; then he can do his work. The professional knows that fear can never be overcome. He knows there is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dread-free artist.”
Fear of Criticism: a professional doesn’t take success or failure personally. Evolution is all about biological factors. It’s in our cells to worry about rejection. The amateur uses fear of rejection to prevent us from doing our work or showing it to the public for public consumption. To take rejection personally is to reinforce resistance- the battle is in our heads, not with critics or reviewers! It reinforces resistance again and again.
Knocking the Notion of Unlimited Choices on Its Head: This one is the kicker for me. Oftentimes as a career coach, I’m asked if I can transition anyone to any type of career. The answer is no, and not just because of the skill gaps one might have to fill before going toward a particular career (that is a totally workable situation for my work with my clients) but more importantly, it’s because we’re all not meant to do a huge number of things. (Despite my love for cooking, for example, I am NOT meant to do anything with sharp knives like work in a kitchen. Ask my college roommates and my doorman in Buenos Aires who had to get me to the ER in 2012.)
Which brings me to this idea. Whether you agree with it at its core or not, the idea of resistance is a very interesting concept to think about what you’re meant to be doing and your duty to breakdown the resistance and do it:
“Another way of thinking of it is this: We’re not born with unlimited choices.
We can’t be anything we want to be. We come into this world with a specific, personal destiny. We have a job to do, a calling to enact, a self to become. We are who we are from the cradle, and we’re stuck with it.
Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.
If we were born to paint, it’s our job to become a painter. If we were born to raise and nurture children, it’s our job to become a mother.
If we were born to overthrow the order of ignorance and injustice of the world, it’s our job to realize it and get down to business.”
So…what’s the takeaway of this article- how DO you overcome resistance to do what you actually want to do? We’re going to get to that next week, so for now, the takeaway is to sit with some of these ideas and let ’em settle in. Next week we’ll discuss strategies.
In the meantime, if you’re tired of doing nothing about what you wanna be doing, let’s chat on one of my consults. You can sign up here.