Let’s suppose you’re working on the next chapter of your life. Perhaps you’re switching careers, striking out on your own, or spending more time on a new area of interest. Or maybe you’re wondering if it’s time to make a change.
Get ready to face a trinity of resistance.
Steven Pressfield in his excellent book, The War of Art, describes resistance as the thing that stands between the “life we live and the unlived life within us.” Resistance can be felt with any endeavor and it’s certain to show up when we turn the page in our lives to begin a new chapter.
Three forms of resistance often conspire together:
- The resistance of uncertainty. Sure, you’ve got enough confidence in yourself to give something new a try. You may consider yourself a bit of a risk taker too. But none of that matters when you’re staring at that blank sheet of paper wondering what comes next. Or which of a million ideas you should pursue. And when you turn your attention to gaze upon the seemingly effortless progress of others, that uncertainty you feel can quickly morph into self-doubt. Uncertainty need not stop you however. Pressfield points out that self-doubt can actually be an ally, reminding you of your aspiration and pushing yourself a little more that you might if you were overly confident.
- The resistance of fatigue. You may not have the luxury to focus exclusively on your new direction. Few people do. Instead, more likely, you’re pursuing your a new chapter even while putting the finishing touches on the current one. And who knows how long that transition might last? You’ve got to keep at your present demands and that can easily sap your enthusiasm for the new chapter. Fatigue sets in and it advises you to work on that new chapter when you have time. Don’t succumb, however. Even small daily steps toward your new endeavor will give you more energy for your present responsibilities. The large leaps you think you’ll make when you have more time?—those rarely come.
- The resistance of critique. You want feedback on your progress. We all do, especially in new undertakings. Tapping into the wisdom of many advisors is a good strategy. Keep one thing in mind, however, when they comply and unload reality on you: critique requires a point of reference. And their point of reference will be flawed and, likely, overinflated. It’ll be flawed because they are not you. They don’t have your vision, your gifts, and they can’t possibly fully advise you on the proper expression your vision should take. Neither are they likely to give you a realistic appraisal of your effort. They’ll either be comparing your concept to something they’ve seen done by others, or worse, something similar but extraordinary that they’ve conjured in their own mind. Either way, their words may leaving you feeling far short of a mark you’re not yet intended to hit.
So, how do these conspire together? Consider this scenario: You’ve been working on your next chapter endeavor, but it’s not paying off the way you hoped and you begin to wonder if it’s worth the effort. So you turn to friends you trust for honest feedback. Some, focused on your disappointment in the progress, suggest you spend your time elsewhere. Others, focused on your fatigue, try to help by offering their ideas. Soon, you’re even more uncertain, more fatigued and feel even farther behind than you before you sought counsel. You’ve just met the resistance trinity and their conspiracy to thwart your next chapter.
The only way to overcome any conspiracy is with truth. And the truth for your next chapter is this: the size of your commitment is measured by what it takes to stop you. If the Divine Trinity called you to it, don’t let any other trinity keep you from it.
What are other forms of resistance you’ve faced in pursuing your next chapter?