Last week when I forced myself to sit down and get all the little pieces of my dream building scheduled out in a typical workweek I encountered perhaps the most resistance I have ever encountered and successfully worked through. For the roughly 4 hours that it took to do the activity, and write about the experience and all the steps, I felt an enormous weight of resistance around this work.
Some of you may already be familiar with the concept of Resistance. My favorite start-up and creativity gurus–Seth Godin and Steven Pressfield–talk about it at length. To put a very big, amorphous concept into a sentence, resistance is the energy that drains the momentum out of movement towards becoming the best version of ourselves. We can judge ourselves for having it (I am nearly certain we all experience some version of it) and call it laziness, or avoiding behavior, lethargy or weakness. Another friend and his spouse talk about the avoidant behavior you undertake before say, updating your expenses by circling your lamentable destination like a dog circling before it lays down–oh look laundry needs to get in the wash, quick cup of tea, hmm, maybe I need a snack, shoot forgot to respond to that text!, etc. etc.
The point of all this is to say that the resistance was stronger than I’ve ever felt it last Monday when I sat down to write your letter. Seth Godin will say that when we feel it that bad it is because we are headed due north towards our dreams and The Resistance can’t stand it. It felt good to think about Seth Godin’s advice on this encounter and push through it. I also noticed that though I was incredibly fatigued after working on the exercise and writing about it, that my resistance around all the usual suspects – Adobe learning, business development, computer improvements– was much less during the rest of the week.
The enormity of the Resistance as well as the ease with which I was able to undertake work during the rest of the week, has motivated me to start writing about techniques for tackling Resistance. So I am going to begin experimenting with a particularly persnickety one: a regular sewing practice regimen. Here I can give an example of how insane Resistance makes us: I work all day drumming up writing work, networking and strategizing for women’s made-to-measure apparel, writing and sending you video blogs about dream building and working side jobs to be able to design apparel and learn how to make it. And then 7pm comes around and I do everything in my power not to sew. Not because I don’t love it. Not because it doesn’t make me happy or give me a unique, peaceful sort of fulfillment, but because of The Resistance.
As I thought about undertaking a resistance battling experiment with my sewing I talked to my fellow creative and entrepreneur friends about resistance and began to brainstorm tools I have learned about to fight it. Seth Godin says, just force yourself to do the work, but I think we can crowd-source some tips to find more tools to support the lonely, creative entrepreneurial endeavors as they encounter their Resistance phantoms.
So here’s the experiment: I am committing to sewing 4 nights a week and using this time to learn resistance-fighting tactics to share on the Weekly Letter.
Below are a combination of advice from friends, Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art and some ideas I’m experimenting with:
#1: Create a ritual around the time that you spend and call on your Angels/ Fairies/ creative warrior Goddess/God protector to keep you safe from Resistance and free to experience creative flow. Go ahead and write your prayer down and keep it to revisit at the start of each session. I light a candle that I have been lighting while I am doing creative work. These two bring me back to The Point when my internal monologue threatens to derail me.
#2: Imagine yourself as part of a community of creative warriors (this is true). You are not working alone, you are working in tangent with a whole world of creative people who need your support and need your work to exist. They need you to battle your Resistance and they need solidarity in battling theirs. These days anytime I get stuck or start to go into a downward spiral with my thoughts, I remember that it is not just me. I am doing this work for our community of creatives and entrepreneurs or anyone who’s had a dream to be one.
#3: Commit to the minimum time period you can do an activity for each day you will do it – i.e. for sewing at least 30 minutes. And then, don’t beat yourself up for stopping after that when you want/need to.
#4: Buy a hilariously cheesy calendar (on sale now at Fed Ex stores!) and keep track of your progress somewhere you look every day (mine is unsurprisingly next to the refrigerator). See my example below on my Celebrity Dachshund Calendar.
I have survived and even enjoyed the first 2 nights of my experiment using the above techniques.
The goal: to sew with peaceful and joyful abidance several days a week by the spring equinox on March 20th.
Join me by picking some creative resistance you want to tackle and liberating yourself to create freely by March 20th.
Share what you are taking on in our comments below or on Instagram @reidmiller.us.