Have you heard of the term resistance?
The sticky, gluey, friction like surface of our mind that stops us from moving forward.
In some ways it’s a better word for describing the manifestation of fear than using the word fear.
Because fear conjures up this sensitivity to possible harm, the danger of the moment, and in a lot of instances there really isn’t any harm or danger present.
It’s more the perception of consequence that is stopping us.
What will people think of me?
How will I be judged?
How will I be shunned or ostracized?
Will I be alone?
What will I do if I don’t have “that” anymore? (insert job, car, house, boat, friend, partner, etc.)
Consequence, and judgment is a constant circular conversation for most of us.
Get up in the morning and the brain starts chirping about how you don’t want to get up, you aren’t ready for the day, you don’t like waking up, and what’s so good about today!
Everyone has days like that, some have weeks like that, and some have lives like that. Resistance starts upon waking, and the glue begins to harden as the day progresses.
What do you mean you might be saying? I get a lot of stuff done, I’m busy with so many things, and I’m a worker bee!
Aha! That my friend is often resistance just as much as not doing anything is resistance.
Yep, doing things, lots of things, things that seemingly occupy your time, but insidiously erode your “productive” time are all forms of resistance.
What do I mean about productive time?
Real productive time is when what you are doing with your time aligns with what you intentionally wish to create in your life.
If you want to be an amazing writer, then you need to spend time thinking, writing, reading, listening, re-writing, resting, and basically dedicating significant amounts of your time to the art of producing the written word.
But it also means being tactical about it, and not doing haphazardly, or sporadically, but dedicating real chunks of undisturbed time to being creative.
The first thing we need to do to beat resistance is create structure that works for us. Structure is the opposite of flow. To be able to flow, which is what we need to be able to do to harvest ideas and ultimately be creative, we need structure.
The word harvest infers that you took the time to plant and sew the seeds, you waited for the plants to grow to maturity, and now you are harvesting the bounty.
So just like a real harvest, in order to harvest ideas, there needs to be short and long-term structure that creates the fertile soil.
Behind every great artist or entrepreneur, the ones who build good bodies of work, not one offs or occasional flurries, but real tangible and consistent work, is a structure of creation. Even if that structure is created for them by a partner or assistant, or team, the structure must be there to support the consistent delivery and quality of expectation.
So anyone who is experiencing resistance, needs to first create structures that allow them to be more cognizant of when they must be productive, and when they can rest or un-plug.
Instead what often happens is that without structure, time and space for creation become filled with “stuff”, quick texts, short conversations, long conversations, e-mails, trips to the fridge, trips to the coffee shop, glances at the TV, absorption in a YouTube video, sending Bitmoji’s!
The list goes on and on!
It’s tough to change anything or become better at anything unless you are aware of why you are not good at it in the first place!
So being better and owning your time and energy requires you having some sense of where you spend these precious properties.
Assignment number one, take the time (haha!) to track your use of time each day. From the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed each day for 3–5 days, write down at regular intervals during the day in a journal, spread sheet, or just a simple white sheet of paper, everything you are doing throughout the day.
Don’t just reflect on the major “doing” moments like making and eating breakfast, or writing a memo, or taking the dog for a walk, but also reflect on the “stuff” you were doing to avoid being truly productive.
How long did you sit watching that YouTube video someone posted?
How many times did you check your phone for a new text or e-mail?
How long did you spend standing at someone desk or place of work chatting about nothing particularly thought provoking (maybe you were even gossiping?).
Did you listen to an interesting podcast or audio book on your way in to work, or did you just listen to yourself crap on yourself, or someone else?
How many times did you go to a colleague and ask a question you could have investigated and solved yourself?
How often did you rearrange your desk, move papers, read the same message?
How many times did you tell yourself you couldn’t do something, or you don’t know how to do this or that?
All of this stuff is avoidance behaviour.
You need to punt it from your life.
The more you are aware, the more you can begin to acknowledge it, and with acknowledgment comes accountability.
With accountability, we can begin to change things.
The best way to hold yourself accountable is to track things. To keep it simple, especially in the beginning, take some time at the end of the day each day to review and reflect on your day, write down where you used time well, where you didn’t, and when you felt a sense that time spent was not productive and try to link to why.
Just do this for 3–4 weeks. Then look back at your notes and you’ll start to see trends. Trends you can start to address with intervention. You’ll also just simply become more aware of what you are doing. Awareness, like listening, is a skill we all need to learn. Awareness is the first power in change.
Now start using that same tracker to hold yourself accountable each night to doing better each day. Not being perfect but being better. You’ll soon find yourself looking back at the person you once were with that feeling of “How did I waste so much time?”
Some people get stuck on purpose. What is my purpose, who am I, what am I supposed to accomplish on this earth? These can be overwhelming thoughts and conversations for many people.
If you are aware of your purpose, then this will resonate just that much more, but if not, no worries. The key here is that whatever you are doing each day, use the 80/20 rule. 80 percent of your day should be spent doing things that are directly contributing to building the life you want to have.
Oh boy, that’s a big thought. The life I want to have, what is that?
If you’re a big visionary thinker, then that might be a big vision, but if you aren’t, it might just simply be something that is one increment better than the life you have right now.
Ask yourself a simple question.
If I could change one thing in my life that would create a greater sense of fulfillment in me, what would it be?
Whatever the answer to that question, 80% of your time and energy on a daily basis should constructively connect to that aspiration.
If its getting a better job, or opening a business, or being a better parent, then how are you constructing your day so you can achieve that?
That doesn’t mean that if you want to be a better parent, you have to quit your job and stay home, it means that the way you construct your work day, what you do with your time when you get home, how you deport yourself when you are with your children, all of these things become far more important and focused. You are aware of how you spend your time and energy moving towards this goal.
You don’t keep looking at your phone when you are with your children? You don’t stare mindlessly at the TV while your child stares mindlessly at their tablet?
You become laser focused on how you connect with your children.
The same is said for whatever key item you’ve chosen to go after, the one that will make the ultimate difference in your sense of fulfillment. Everyone is different.
The changes you will need to make will at times feel uncomfortable. You may not like leaving your phone off, or in another room. You may not like staying at your desk and focusing on your work, it may feel strange to immerse yourself in the silence between you and your child. Discomfort is part of change, it’s part of over-reaching, its part of achieving a better you.
Comfort is easy, comfort is warm and cozy. Wash in the discomfort, it is the cleanser of resistance.
If we want to live a more fulfilling and intentional life, we need to recognize the resistance that keeps us stuck in the mud, and eliminate the habits that feed the animal!
Originally published at medium.com