I have a constant flow of blog ideas every day. In my head, they’re all amazing. Want to know how many I’ve written in the past year? Eight.
In one word, here’s why: Resistance.
In his highly entertaining and spot-on book, The War of Art, Steven Pressfield introduces the concept of Resistance with this
The Following is a list, in no particular order, of those activities that most commonly elicit Resistance:
1. The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or an creative art, however marginal or unconventional.
2. The launching of any entrepreneurial venture or enterprise, for profit or otherwise.
3. Any diet or health regimen.
4. Any program of spiritual advancement.
5. Any activity whose aim is tighter abdominals.
He goes on, but you get the point.
Here’s how Resistance plays out in my relationship to writing:
First, I’ll do just about anything else I can besides sit down and write. Laundry? That sounds like fun! I’ll do that instead. Seriously.
Then, once I do get over that first mammoth hurdle, and actually do sit down to write, I often feel paralysed. I can barely tolerate getting through those first excruciating moments when I feel that gaping hole between my fantasy version of myself and the reality of how hard it is for me to write. Nothing comes out nearly as eloquently on paper as it is in my head. My words feel clunky. The message unclear.
Some of us can spend a lot of time in our heads fantasizing about our exceptional selves but our commitment to practicing often falls short of our fantasized self image. Grandiosity and Resistance go hand and hand.
In the coaching world, there’s a recommendation that often shows up: Make an ambitious goal. The basic reasoning is that the excitement and pull of that ambitious goal will help you overcome the resistance. “Shoot for the moon,” the saying goes. “Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
But I’ve found that often the opposite is true. Sometimes you have to make a small goal. Really small. So tiny that it totally flies under the radar of Resistance.
Here’s an example: Maybe you think of yourself as a yogini but never make it to yoga class? Decide instead to subscribe to a YouTube yoga class but don’t do that either? How about bending over to touch your toes a few times a day? Can you do that? It’s laughable right? We think we’re too good for toe-touching. Touch. Your. Damn. Toes.
Making a habit of touching your toes every single day is going to do a heck of a lot more for your flexibility than your big dreams of getting to the yoga class every day.
You may be the type of person who already does get to the yoga class every day (jealous!) but I bet there’s another place in your life where the force of Resistance is strong. A place where a tiny goal might be needed.
So, I’m going to try an experiment. My tiny goal is to write for 30 minutes a day (which is often the extent of my attention span) with almost no expectations that it will turn out well. If I do that, my hypothesis is, I will have enough material to send out a blog post twice a month. That’s it. Just a little something that I’m thinking about that may turn out to be helpful to you as well.
I’m also going to touch my toes.
Are you willing to do this experiment with me?
What’s one small goal that you can make? Please, don’t make it a big deal. Make it as tiny as you can possibly make it. And then do it. Do it today. Do it tomorrow. Do it the day after that.
I’d love to hear how it goes!
** I wrote this while all of my kids were at camp. Since they've returned home I've had to adjust my goals to match my new circumstances. You too can check in with your goals and see how realistic they are and then adjust accordingly.