Why do we all struggle with Procrastination & Resistance?

Some thoughts for the New Year…

This is one of my favorite mottos…

It’s common for us, as humans, to think that we need to wait to feel inspired to get some important task or activity done. I have people ask me all the time: “How can I stay motivated to… (whatever)?” How can I stay inspired to get (such and such) accomplished?” We have this misguided notion that we need to feel particularly moved or empowered in order to get into action and do something creative or constructive.

As we head into another turn around the sun, I am going to tell you right now that this is not the case.

It is action that fuels inspiration.

AND the resistance you feel to getting into action at times is a normal part of the human condition.

Why do we all experience procrastination and Resistance?

Action, by its very nature is creative. No matter what you’re doing, you are bringing something new into existence. Do you ever wonder why there are things you know you want to do, things you know would help move you toward your goals and yet you just cannot seem to get them done? There are times that a mental block can feel almost tangible, like you could lean forward and bang your head against a real wall. A few years ago, I read this awesome little book called, The War of Art: Break Through The Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield. Pressfield is a writer (obviously, I suppose) and he writes about his belief that we all have two lives: the life we live and the unlived life within us. It’s his contention that what stands between those two lives is Resistance.

He writes, “Have you ever brought home a treadmill and let it gather dust in the attic? Ever quit a diet, a course of yoga, a meditation practice? Have you ever bailed out on a call to embark upon a spiritual practice, dedicate yourself to a humanitarian calling, commit your life to the service of others? Have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is… As powerful as is our soul’s call to realization, so potent are the forces of Resistance arrayed against it.”

Any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long term growth, health or integrity can inspire Resistance. Things like pursuing a creative calling, launching a project, staying on a diet or exercise program, overcoming a bad habit or addiction or having difficult conversations all invite Resistance.

At times, it can seem that Resistance comes from outside ourselves. We find it in our spouses, jobs, kids and our schedules- even our horses. The truth is, though, that it comes from within. Consider that, Resistance is NOT YOU. Resistance will tell you almost anything to keep you from taking action and reason with you like a great lawyer. Though it is IN you, it is not unique to you. It is not personal. Resistance is in all of us. AND we can all fight it.  If we couldn’t, there would be no War And Peace, no Romeo And Juliet and there would be no Eifel Tower.

Pressfield writes, “We fear discovering that we are more than we think we are. More than our parents/ children/ teachers think we are. We fear that we actually possess the talent that our still, small voice tells us. That we actually have the guts, the perseverance, the capacity. We fear that we truly can steer our ship, plant our flag, reach our Promised Land. We fear this because, if it’s true, then we become estranged from all we know.”

Think about this. We are inherently afraid of change. Even if that change represents our deepest desires. I recently had a client say to me, “Why did I not do these things for so long when I knew they would make my life so much better? I can’t believe how free I feel now!” Once she identified Resistance and stopped waiting for “the right time” or “to feel motivated” and just got into action, she became liberated from Resistance and got a handle on her procrastination.

Pressfield contends that it is only by “going professional” that we win our private battles with Resistance.

This year, I encourage you to “go pro.” Show up, follow through, and take action no matter what. If you stay committed for the long haul you will beat Resistance at it’s own game. “Going pro” is not about doing something for money. In fact, the more you love your goal or your art or your calling and the more important it is to the evolution of your soul, the more Resistance you will feel facing it. “Going pro” is about the attitude it produces. It’s about the “hard-core, hard-head, hard-hat state of mind that shows up for work despite rain or snow or dark of night and slugs it out day after day.”

In Take The Reins, I ask you to “go pro.” Consider that your goals are important to the evolution of your soul and show up, hard-hat in hand every day. Tolstoy had thirteen kids and he still wrote War And Peace. You can let Resistance continue to keep you stalled out or you can liberate yourself from it by acting first and expecting inspiration later.

There is truly magic in making a start. May your 2017 be an incredible ride… I hope to see you on the other side!