Resistance is the force that stands between you and the goal you’ve set out to achieve, it keeps you from following through and taking success-oriented action.
It’s the voice that tells you to procrastinate or keeps rationalising all the reasons you’re not ready to take the next step. If you’re battling resistance, let’s take a look at some practical ways to help you get unstuck and move forward.
RESISTANCE IS SELF-SOBOTAGE
Resistance is a powerful form of internal self-sabotage. If we can’t overcome resistance, we’ll slide further away from making our goal a reality and unsurprisingly, the greater the goal, the stronger the resistance.
The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it. – Steven Pressfield (The War Of Art)
You’re likely to come up against feelings of resistance almost every day. Whether it be resisting small things, like pulling on your runners and heading out for exercise or starting an increasingly urgent client project.
Here’s how to move forward when you’re feeling stuck in the vice-like grip of resistance.
Acknowledging resistance is the first step to disentangle from it. Get clear on how the feeling of resistance came about or the reason you are procrastinating – lack of time, waning motivation or being unsure of the next step to take?
As soon as you become mindful, you can see the feeling more clearly and explore possible reasons for why you’re feeling that way. You create a little space between you and the resistance. Leverage this space with a few practical actions that can help you move forward into a state of momentum again.
GET CLEAR ON ONE IMPORTANT TASK TO ACCOMPLISH FOR THE DAY
When resistance kicks in, it’s easy to lose focus and become overwhelmed. This in turn creates more resistance; a self-perpetuating cycle many of us get stuck in.
Instead of feeling like you need to get 10 important things all done at once, focus on one key project you can finish or move along to a certain stage.
If resistance is so strong that you’re struggling to even get started on one task, break it down into small ‘sprints’ of time using the Pomodoro Technique. Working on a task for 15 or 20 minutes at a time is far less overwhelming than feeling like you need to work on something for two hours straight.
It’s also helpful to write down a list of all the action items you’ve been avoiding for a while; maybe it’s a phone call, finishing a personal admin task or joining the gym. Aim to tackle at least one each day until you’ve cleared the list.
CREATE SYSTEMS TO ‘DO THE WORK’RATHER THAN RELY ON INSPIRATION
“I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes at nine every morning.” – William Faulkner.
William Faulkner is one of America’s most celebrated writers and Nobel Prize laureate. He wrote to a daily schedule, starting at 9am, whether he felt like it or not.
Relying only on inspiration or motivation to progress your goals is the quickest way to invite resistance in. Instead, create a daily schedule of taking success-producing action whether you feel like it or not.
This might mean scheduling the first hour of your day, every day, to work on the most important or challenging project.
Or a daily target to make two new business calls. Or meditating for 10 minutes first thing every morning. Creating a system with a few non-negotiable, goal-related daily actions will force you to follow through, regardless of how you feel.
A million distractions suddenly seem to present themselves as soon as we decide to dig in and get important work done. A list of urgent but unimportant work tasks, the grocery shopping, commenting on status updates, walking the dog, reading the news. Anything but what we should be doing. There will always be some kind of distraction ready to sap our attention; the answer is learning how to get better at managing distractions.
A few tactics you can try:
- Turn off notifications on your devices
- Block your social media during work hours using browser extensions like StayFocusd.
- Declutter your desk; a messy space can equal a messy, distracted mind
- Avoid multitasking; focus on one action at a time
Planned distractions can be welcome breathers in a marathon of work, but don’t let resistance pull you into activities that stop you getting a job done.
GET OUT OF A PERFECTIONIST MINDSET
Resistance knows that the longer we noodle around “getting ready,” the more time and opportunity we’ll have to sabotage ourselves. Resistance loves it when we hesitate when we over-prepare. The answer: plunge in.” – Steven Pressfield
It’s common to find perfectionism at the root of resistance. Perfectionists fear being unable to complete a task perfectly, so they put off doing it for as long as possible.
When we feel the challenge might be higher than we’re capable of, it’s easier to give in to resistance and distract ourselves rather than plunging in and doing the work. If you’re struggling with the perfection/resistance cycle, here are a few reminders:
- Don’t wait for conditions to be perfect to get started.
- For tasks with a low ROI, just aim for done or good enough.
- Put a time limit on how long you have to complete a task, instead of just working on it until it’s ‘perfect’.
- Learn to delegate and let go.
If you’ve been struggling with resistance, you’re not alone. We all get stuck, especially when we’re on the way to making big changes in our life. Try implementing these tips to push through the resistance and get moving towards your goals again.