Don’t Let Resistance Sabotage Your New Years Resolutions

resistanceYou don’t need another me to tell you that we don’t keep most of our resolutions. Every TV station around has served up the obligatory visit to the local Gym.

They interview people who just joined in early January, fully expecting to stick with some new commitment right through to December 31st.  Most don’t. The initial excitement of those commitment quickly fades.

Why Does Resistance Sabotage your Commitments?

Here are three ways to frame those feelings of resistance from authors who have each taught me a great deal:

From Stephen Pressfield, author of “The War of Art”

To Pressfield, Resistance is an enemy that only gives us trouble when we are about to leave something less noble to something more noble. As he says, if you are working with Mother Teresa’s ministry in Calcutta and you are thinking about leaving all that for a new career playing online poker, Resistance won’t give you any trouble. And that is what makes resistance such a valuable compass. The more resistance that you are feeling as you begin something new or persist with a project past the initial good feelings, the more likely it is that you are going in the right direction. Maybe you are getting closer to your calling!

From Cal Newport, author of “So Good They Can’t Ignore You”

Maybe you are just waiting to feel passionate about what you are doing. You know there are specific actions that would advance your career capital this year, and on January 1st you resolve to get at them. But you just can’t really get excited. So you suppose that if you were doing the thing that you were really “supposed to be doing”, you would be brimming with enthusiasm for every task that you encountered on that path. Not so, says Cal Newport. His advice is to start from where you are and become so good at what you do that they can’t overlook you. And much of what you need to do to get very good isn’t much fun. In fact, other writers who advocate deliberate practice as the path to outstanding performance include “not much fun” as an essential part of the definition.

Writing well may be an essential aspect of being very good at what you are doing. If that is the case, you’ll find it very difficult to find writing advice that doesn’t start with a very simple admonition. To write well, write regularly whether you feel like it or not.

From Carol Dweck, author of “Mindset”

Maybe you have the idea that if you begin to learn new skills you should experience immediate confirmation that you are already talented in this area. Last September, I joined a creative writers course where each of us submitted our work for feedback. There were many in the group with much more experience and considerably more skill, as I soon learned. Had I arrived at the class with what Dweck calls the Fixed Mindset, I might have concluded that writing was not an area of talent. I should slip quietly out the door and leave the writing to those who were clearly talented. Fortunately, I arrived with the Growth Mindset, so I expected that I had a great deal to learn and I was not discouraged by the responses to my early drafts.

As with each of these authors, I have greatly oversimplified Dweck’s work, but her book has greatly helped me to stick with recent initiatives. As a young man, I had been taught that a lack of early evidence that you had a “knack” for something was a reliable indicator that you shouldn’t expect to ever perform well. Either you were talented or you were not.

Before You Quit, Ask Why You are So Strongly Tempted to Do So

Temptation to abandon any commitment will come as you set out to advance your career. Think before you quit!

I hope that one of these very brief extracts from writers I admire will prod you to reframe your experience and enable you to continue with any new commitments you have made at the first of this year. Understanding a little better what lies behind the resistance you are experiencing can help you to respond more constructively.

Please share your experiences with me and with other readers.

Although each of these books is a valued part of my library and I strongly recommend them, I do not receive any compensation should you choose to purchase a copy.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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