Have you ever been so close to the finish line on a project that you can almost touch it?
You know how great it would feel to cross that line, yet you still aren’t quite there.
Suddenly, what you’re working on seems silly, unimportant, or not good enough for the world to see it. So you put it aside to finish later.
I feel like this is the biggest invisible struggle for creators these days: the Resistance.
Two books that I read that explain this Resistance concept is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill.
Pressfield describes the concept of Resistance as a destructive force whose sole existence is to stop you from doing what you most need to do.
As Pressfield puts it, “the more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
This is one of the most powerful introductions to a book I’ve ever read.
When I read this, I remembered back to all the times I had an opportunity and had screwed it up for stupid reasons.
Without fail, with every product I’ve completed and shipped, there were moments I looked at what I had created and thought
- Who cares?
- Did I just spend the last X months on this?
- This isn’t good enough yet. It needs much more time (usually on launch day!)
Even with my current project, SELF Journal, that we just successfully funded to the tune of $322K on Kickstarter, I recall thinking the same thoughts.
I had these feelings despite the fact that people had already seen the beta product and loved it. We had even built a substantial email list interested in the product. Logically, I had evidence that people cared.
Resistance doesn’t care for logic.
“Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.” – Steven Pressfield
The week before and even the day of the SELF Journal launch, my co-founder Allen and I experienced some pretty harsh Resistance that made me start to re-think everything, completely irrationally.
Luckily we were both familiar with Resistance and knew what was happening, and we weren’t going to let it stop us.
Resistance rears its ugly head during these key times when you’ve overcome the other obstacles, done all the hard work, but there’s just one thing left to do – ship the product.
Resistance is the reason people never finish a project because they’re always perfecting it.
It’s scary to put your work out there for the world because you’re welcoming critics into your life, and, as we all know, the internet is full of then. Armchair critics are just another form of Resistance. It takes a human form, but that’s what it is.
Resistance is present all the time in some form or another. Here are some common ways it shows up:
- Fear of Failure (or Success)
- Constantly comparing yourself to others
The important thing is recognizing what’s going on, putting the Resistance to the side, and doing the work.
A few ways I eventually grew wise to this feeling and was able to put it to the side was:
- Acknowledging what Resistance was and recognizing when it was coming up for me
- Setting hard deadlines for myself and rewarding myself when I met them
- Accountability; specifically having a partner in Allen for the SELF Journal project meant I was accountable to someone on getting things done.
Accountability is a huge factor when you’re working on a project (especially if you’re a 1-person team). An easy way to stay accountable is to tell everyone you know what project you’re working on. Why?
Because they will ask you about it – this in itself will keep you moving as you’ll feel like you will always need to have updates about it.
“It’s better to be in the arena getting stomped by the bull than to be up in the stands or out in the parking lot.” – Steven Pressfield
Pressfield wrote a great follow-up book, Do The Work, about what happens when you beat Resistance and all the magic that was being kept from you suddenly starts showing up in your life. This wholesome force he aptly calls the Assistance.
Do you recognize Resistance coming up in any area of your life? I’d love to know if there’s a change you need to make, but you’re struggling to take the next step. Share it in the comments below.