If procrastination were an Olympic sport, I’d be a perennial gold medalist. Even when I came out of the womb, I was probably putting something off.
I’d be like ‘do I really have to be born today? Can’t we do this tomorrow? I’m not ready yet.’
Stuff that’s hard, like making a change (for the better), having an awkward conversation with family or a friend or not exercising when you know your health depends on it is the kind of stuff we procrastinate about.
It’s easy to put this aside to deal with at another time. When the time is right. The term for this is
The Path Of Least Resistance
Which is the physical or metaphorical pathway that provides the least resistance to forward motion by a given object or entity, among a set of alternative paths. This isn’t unique to human beings. A lot of things take the path of least resistance including water, electricity, and Google maps
Author H. G Wells describes it as ‘the path of the loser.’
Or what it is commonly known as the easy way out. If this involves finding a place that you have never been before, then Google Maps is good. But, if it’s avoiding talking to your boss about a pay raise or joining a gym to lose weight, this is bad.
Unfortunately, we are all wired this way.
But What Really Stops Us?
Steven Pressfield, author of The Art Of War’ calls this force the resistance. That feeling or thought that you get in the pit of your stomach that you must or want to do something, but it’s difficult and it’s out of your comfort zone.
Pressfield says, ‘we don’t tell ourselves I’m never going to write my symphony.’ Instead we say, ‘I’m going to write my symphony; I’m just going to start tomorrow.’
And for some of us, tomorrow never comes.
The Truth is…..
If you are (and me too) waiting around for motivation or inspiration or the perfect time to start it will probably never come. The resistance you feel will probably take care of that.
No worries mate, I’ll do that tomorrow.
The truth is you’ll run into the wall of resistance while trying anything worthwhile. And rather than butting your head against it, (and putting it off) you’ll need to take this resistance head on.
And then bust on through it.
Let me give you an example
Writing and me used to mix like oil and water..
My senior year at high school, I despised English and it showed because I failed. Which mortified my mother because she has a master’s in English and is a great writer.
So that fact your reading my written word is almost a miracle. But becoming a personal trainer, I wanted to share my thoughts with the world in the hopes of getting people to trust me enough to hire me.
And fast forward a few years later there’s my blog and I also get paid to write about exercise.
Was it easy? No. Did I suck? Yes. Do I still suck? Maybe a little less now.
There was a lot (and still is) resistance. How did I overcome this resistance?
I started small.
Exercise is something I knew a little of, but I sucked at writing. And I was under no delusion otherwise. I wrote articles for my church newsletter, guest posts on start-up websites and other established coaches’ sites.
Any and every opportunity to write I took it. Sometimes it took me weeks to write simple 400-800-word articles. It was a battle and I faced plenty of resistance. But I faced the resistance and made forward progress. Even when it was small.
What Does This Mean For You?
Accept the feeling of resistance when it dawns on you. Either your inner voice telling you, you can’t do it or the uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach when something becomes difficult.
This is the fear of the unknown and knowing you’re about to step out of your comfort zone. Then the decision is yours. Which path are you going to take?
It’s not going to be easy and you’re (probably) going to win some and lose some. I still lose regularly because I like my comfort zone and routine. But when you start piling up a few small victories against the resistance (by starting small) then hopefully the bigger victories will come.
And those goals you set for yourself, you’ll crush them like a bug on your road to being awesome.
The resistance is something you are going to butting up against. And yes, you can avoid it and put things off. But is really going to be a life worth living? A life with regrets.
The decision is yours.