I spoke in a recent post about the idea of ‘resistance‘ and how we block ourselves from pursuing the work that really matters to us. Once I started talking about this topic a few of the cats could empathise and if that’s the case inside the cosy walls of MetaBroadcast HQ, then I’m sure there are even more people outside them who also feel the same. So, just how do you beat resistance? It seems obvious but the battle starts by simply getting started… and yes, getting started the hardest bit ^_~
why is it so difficult to get started?
Getting started is hard. There are a few potential reasons why. Steven Pressfield believes—and I agree—that the more scared you are about doing something generally the more it means to you. Following that logic through then the more we care about something, the more anxious we are about how it will turn out. In turn the more important something is to us personally, the more we’re inclined to care about how it’s received by others.
I spoke about the patterns of social anxiety and how when we avoid stressors our anxiety dwindles until the next time we’re faced with the same stressor. Then our anxiety increases from an already elevated point. If you have a project you want to embark on but you’re worried about it, you might find yourself procrastinating in the guise of ‘researching’, ‘planning’ and ‘preparing’ resources to avoid making the first move. You promise yourself that once this all-important phase is complete that you’ll begin, but you don’t.
Ultimately, the longer you avoid the task the harder it becomes. The more time we spend thinking about a project, the more likely it is going to end up on a pedestal in your mind. The more special it becomes the more you worry about doing it justice. It might be that you worry about your skills. If your skills have rusted due to lack of use then there is an even higher chance that you’ll fuck this important thing up and then people will receive it even worse than you originally anticipated… Notice a pattern?
help is at hand
I’m definitely guilty of all of the above but I’m finding little ways to kick myself up the backside when I find myself lapsing into long(ish) periods of inactivity. When I get stuck I find I always return to this video by Ze Frank and it never fails to rekindle my motivation. This video is great. Not just because it’s eye catching and has a pretty score but because reaffirms some very important points which I’ll break down for you across a short series of posts.
key ingredients for the invocation of beginning
the struggle is real….
I’m scared. I’m scared that my abilities are gone, I’m scared that I’m gonna fuck this up and I’m scared of you. I don’t want to start, but I will.
Firstly it helps to know that we’re not alone in this struggle. That is encouraging from the get go. It’s all very well trying to reassure yourself but sometimes we need that pat on the back from an external source. Just hearing someone else discuss this topic lifts a weight. This video engenders the same sense of kinship I felt when first reading the War of Art. His opening statement—as someone in the same boat—gives us hope.
… but only as real as you make it
In The War of Art Pressfield talks about ‘turning pro’ to overcome the Resistance. He notes we’re already pros at something (usually our day jobs) and that there are a number of key principals associated with being a pro. Ze states he doesn’t want to start but he will… We don’t always want to get up for work in the morning but we do, and it’s because we’re pros as Pressfield identifies them:
- We show up every day. We might do it only because we have to, to keep from getting fired. But we do it. We show up every day.
- We show up no matter what. In sickness and in health, come hell or high water, we stagger in to the factory. We might do it only so as not to let down our co-workers, or for other, less noble reasons. But we do it. We show up no matter what.
- We stay on the job all day. Our minds may wander, but our bodies remain at the wheel. We pick up the phone when it rings, we assist the customer when he seeks our help. We don’t go home till the whistle blows.
- We are committed over the long haul. Next year we may go to another job, another company, another country. But we’ll still be working. Until we hit the lottery, we are part of the labor force.
- The stakes for us are high and real. This is about survival, feeding our families, educating our children. It’s about eating.
Some said I wasn’t gonna show up, well that’s what the talk was about but I showed up to the showdown to show off when the show’s on for all of the crowd—Shotty Horroh
With creative endeavours it’s too easy to use our day jobs as an excuse to avoid them, but ideally we would treat them like a job themselves. You want to get something done? Then you have to show up for work. This means setting time aside for them. You don’t wait until you’re in the mood for work, you get on with it.
If I catch myself wearing a tutu, too fat, too late, too old, let me shake it off like a donkey would shake off something it doesn’t like.
Ze Frank knows that you can’t let your insecurities get to you. Pressfield tells us repeatedly that Resistance will use whatever tactics it can to prevent us from making the most of our talents. You can’t listen to that insidious voice inside, you have to ignore it, shake it off and buckle down. He tells us how amateurs measure up to the pros. They don’t show every day, they don’t show up no matter what and they don’t stay on the job. They’re too busy focusing on the short term benefits of their self appointed role or their previous successes and don’t commit themselves to the grind.
The first step in getting started, is simply showing up day in and day out.