Overcoming resistance (finding flow is not what you may think)
During Melbourne’s 2020 lockdown, amidst the challenges of reorienting my business and keeping loved-ones safe, with most plans disrupted I reprioritised towards that which is truly meaningful and significant to me. This involved letting go of attachment to things I cannot control, and a few big life decisions, including a ‘tree change’ away from the city where I’ve lived most of my life. And so, I purchased a modest house on a decent sized posse of land in regional Victoria and began a new adventure. There were lots of challenges to materialising this plan, notwithstanding fear and inbuilt resistance that makes it hard to change, and awareness of the choice we have to either fight or flow in the pursuit of goals and dreams.
We each have a comfort set point, a centre of gravity that regulates us back to a place of familiarity and security whenever we are disrupted. This set point is different for everyone, and like gravity, you can’t see it, but it keeps you on the ground.
In his brilliant book, The War of Art, Steven Pressfield writes, “Resistance obstructs movement only from a lower sphere to a higher. It kicks in when we seek to pursue a calling in the arts, launch an innovative enterprise, or evolve to a high station morally, ethically, or spiritually.” Essentially, this means that whenever we try and reduce friction in our lives – to break free from the status quo and level-up our thinking and habits – we experience resistance. Resistance can often seem important or necessary – a need to do or prioritise something else, which stops us from starting. What are some of the ways that you experience resistance?
If you read my blog, chances are you already know that I’m a big champion of awareness, which is where overcoming resistance starts. Here’s three things you can do to overcome resistance.
Develop awareness – the problem with resistance is that we typically don’t recognise it... make another coffee, incessantly go over to-do lists, tidy up your desk, binge Netflix. The world has a myriad of distractions, so getting clear on what is truly meaningful, impactful, and important to us right now is an essential aspect to overcoming resistance. When you have awareness, every time you do something that isn’t truly necessary, you will know.
Be ready – In essence, this is what Steven Pressfield describes in The War of Art as ‘Turning Pro’, the premise being that amateurs cruise through life without a plan, getting pulled in every direction without ever really sticking to or achieving anything of significance. Whereas the professional shows up ready – prepared, engaged, passionate – committed to doing the work (whatever that might be). Despite what many people believe about achievement and success, overcoming resistance is less about right timing, raw talent, or skill, and more about showing up and getting started.
Improve clarity – I used to think that clearing distraction and starting my day clear and focused was key to overcoming resistance, until I realised clearing distraction can (for some people) be a form of resistance. Whilst there is benefit in uncluttered productive mornings, I’ve come to realise that my evenings are where I really overcome the battle with resistance. Hence, understanding my motivation (why) the night before about the three most important things I want to achieve tomorrow helps me win the day – every time. When you are clear on these things to the exclusion of all else, get them done, and only then focus on whatever else is on your to-do list.
Until next time,