Setting the Tone for 2014: Embracing Resistance

I usually wait until February 2nd to make my new year resolutions, but I’ve already identified a major one that I want to work on right away: understanding and mastering resistance. Resistance can be thought of as a force that causes procrastination. It can also be a catch-all term for the hurdles that one must leap over, or the boulders that we find in our way, or the mental mountains that must be ground-up and processed before we can proceed. However, resistance can also be a pleasurable challenge, in the right circumstances. It can be the indicator of worthwhile pursuits, a learning opportunity that must be wrassled into submission to earn victory.

This past year I’ve faced a lot of resistance and lost. Every time I clicked on Facebook to see if anything new has happened in the past two minutes, I lost. Every headache that caused me to close a book because I wasn’t “getting it” was tantamount to retreat. The empty shelf reserved for ground-breaking project work is a silent monument to my lack of notable progress in life. And yet, I am not depressed. In 2013 I acknowledged resistance and thought that it was enough to be aware of it so I could face it head-on. For 2014, I see that I need to get a bit closer to it, understand what makes it tick in my particular case, and maybe redesign my attitude toward life.

There are three primary resources that have shaped my thinking about my approach to creative work:

  • Writer Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art (and followup books), which is where the idea of “The Resistance” as a force that is counter to our creative endeavor.
  • From choreographer Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit, I took away an impression of the mindset to time it take to develop a creative work to a high level.
  • Software architect Mark Cerny and his ‘Method’ for video game production helped me see the compartments between creative work versus production from a resource allocation perspective.

Having all this theoretical knowledge, I should be able to self-initiate projects instead of being sucked into the Internet of Consumption, and yet I often lack the willpower to get off my put and do hardcore personal project work. I’ve done many informal analyses over the years to hypothesize why, but I haven’t put together an overall STRATEGY that might solve the problem at its very root. To date, I’ve tried many approaches that deal with symptoms (e.g. if I’m sleepy, maybe I need to modify my sleep patterns). There are multiple causes that are working together against me, and I’d like to see if I can discover what it is.