It is human to avoid. This trait probably even predates homo sapiens, by about a zillion years. The creatures who stayed in their holes in the ground survived, while the ones who ventured outside were eaten. It ain’t survival of the fittest. It’s survival of the most anxious.
The survival strategy of remaining frozen in your burrow clearly works to a point, but when used willy-nilly, it becomes hard to get anything done. It leads to that old bug-a-boo, procrastination. Freud’s favorite word, neurotic, can be defined as using a survival strategy after its outlived its usefulness. This genetic atavism leads to the number one problem that people present in my psychotherapy office: “I know what I should do – I even know what I wanna do – why don’t I do it?”
This monumental impediment and its fix, especially around creativity, is the subject of Steven Pressfield’s terrific little book, The War of Art.
Pressfield uses another old Freudian word to describe the problem: resistance. This progress-stopper has been called by lots of names: the gremlin, the devil, maleficent, the underminer, the underdog. Like anyone who has encountered the power of the thing that prevents us from writing that novel, inventing that app, working to end sexual abuse, or losing that fifty pounds, Pressfield knows that this is an uncanny force of indomitable strength, that by all appearances has a life of its own.
Pressfield tells us that the first thing we need to do to beat this damn thing is to acknowledge its existence and understand its power. Stay close to your friends, but get closer to your enemies, kind of thing. In pithy, compelling, powerful, and entertaining chapters, Pressfield does as good a job as anyone describing just what this nasty little demon is like. If you want to know what’s getting in your way, you’ll find the answer here.
The author then goes on to give us the solution. It’s also pretty simple: do it anyway. This requires, just in the beginning, feeling fear. Avoidance, or resistance, happens so we don’t feel the fear. Instead, we feel indifference, boredom, tiredness, laziness, or we come up with all kinds of excuses – my toenail itches, it’s too cold outside, my mother wasn’t nice to me – rather than feel the fear that actually doing something involves. So, if you take action, you will be scared. After all, you, in all probability, will screw up and fail. But who cares? It’s not like you are going to get eaten by a saber-toothed tiger.
Once you get through that hard part, and you devote yourself to the daily work come hell-or-high-water, then, Pressfield tells us, a miraculous thing happens. Other forces – benevolent forces – come to our aid. The devil has us if we are sitting on the couch with our fingers up our noses. But the minute we just start and practice, something like God comes to visit.
Here, Pressfield is right on. He tells us not to wait for passion or inspiration, because it isn’t there in the beginning. We don’t get it for free. Inspiration is a gift we receive for hard work. It comes long after we begin.
I’ve watched these powers at work over and over again in my own, and others, lives, and I’ve tried to enlighten my clients about this about every way I could think of. But Pressfield lays it out better than I can manage. The only part I don’t like is when he tells people not to go to therapy! Having tried every technique against this formidable foe, I accept that there’s no magic formula to what is gonna hit the magic button for someone.
Just buying the book, and even reading it, is no guarantee of getting the message. When that inner critic is in force, he can even snark out Pressfield’s sage advice. But don’t listen to that cigar chomping skeptic that sits on your left shoulder who tells you that Pressfield doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Pressfield isn’t somebody who found it all easy and just gets to lord it over us mortals with his elephant poop wisdom. It took Pressfield seventeen years to have his inner breakthrough. And when he did, at fifty-two, he finally sold something. He wrote The Legend of Bagger Vance, which was turned into a movie directed by Robert Redford, starring Will Smith, Matt Damon, and Charlize Theron. Now, if that’s not a proof that miracles come to those who just keep doing it, I don’t know what is.
reblogged from www.glennberger.net Dr. Berger is a Dr. Berger is a psychotherapist, relationship counselor, business coach, artist coach, and young person’s mentor.
It’s so easy to set goals in life. How many people actually take the time to set specific life goals? Not many of us, is my guess. You want to make more money. You want to enjoy more productive relationships with friends and acquaintances. You want to make a difference in the lives of others. You want more responsibility in your career.
Unfortunately, while all of these goals are admirable, they are also very broad. Most people fantasize about being rich, famous, and well liked. However, these are not necessarily goals. These are common images of success that the media wants us to believe in. Human beings are programmed by books, television, movies and Internet to believe in someone else’s values. After all, did you ever want to be Bill Gates before you knew he was filthy rich? Better yet, did you ever want to be filthy rich before you knew that money could buy you luxurious accommodations, fun new gadgets, and exclusive world travel?
Step 1: Know the Difference between Dreaming and Doing
When a person claims that making a lot of money is his or her “goal”, they are not truly seeing the future. A person who is “destined” for success, programs their own mind to achieve something remarkable but feasible. A person that is motivated to achieve a goal does not think in terms of failure and winning. (As in, I failed at becoming a millionaire. So it’s not meant to be) Rather, this person follows a set path towards their final destination.
To the successful person, succeeding in life is a daily responsibility, one full of setbacks and solutions. The successful person doesn’t merely think in terms of “becoming rich” overnight. They study the path towards financial freedom, as handed down by others, and create a feasible and specific plan to increase their profit through the years. They learn about their chosen industry. They learn about office relationships and business strategies. They learn about investing and wealth building over time. Making money is not just a fleeting thought or a wild idea that must be tried at least once—it is their continuing journey for success.
Similarly, a determined person who wants to become an actor or actress will take steps towards this ultimate goal. They will study the craft and attend auditions on a regular basis. Furthermore, they will study the history of show business and model their own career after the careers of successful actors and actresses. They see the entertainment industry as their career and works according to a plan. Do you see how this mindset is different from another person who simply wishes it would be nice to be paid $20 million dollars for three months of camera posing?
Step 2: Set ‘Stretch’ Goals
Achieving one’s vision of success depends upon the setting and completion of ‘stretch’ goals. A stretch goal is a realistic goal with a little more added to it for it to be a stretch. I think stretch goals are a little more motivating and inspiring than goals that are ‘realistic.’ Stretch goals do not follow someone else’s idea of success, but only your own. After you study the profession that appeals to you, you begin to understand the steps involved and approach your profession from a results-oriented perspective. Set your goals on a long-term and short-term basis and work your way down to weekly goals. It is easier to take smaller steps than trying to focus on one big goal or many big goals.
As you reach milestones along the way, your self-confidence increases and the ultimate objective becomes clear. You are no longer confused about what action you should take. You don’t start projects and stop them; rather you channel your enthusiasm and passion in one specific area, moving closer to the desired result. Along the way, you learn to prioritize your time, as setting specific goals helps you to avoid unproductive actions. When you apply your energy and resources to your goals, you are able to accomplish more in a few short years than most people will ever do in one whole lifetime. When you set your own goals you are given total power over your life. You don’t surrender your time and energy to the will of others, as if subject to someone else’s control.
Step 3: Don’t Procrastinate
The successful person doesn’t typically procrastinate or procrastinate often. Some have stated that dreaming or wishing is actually a form of procrastination, especially if no goals are being set to achieve a dream. Once you have created an action plan, you have no reason to delay taking certain action. You may find that once you start to put your plan into effect that your outlook on life may change. When you have specific goals in mind and keep a positive perspective, you start to achieve more things in life. You may use other’s achievements as a guideline if you are new to the industry and profession; however, you choose your own goals based on where you want to be and by when you want to be there. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something or hold you back from achieving your goals and desires.
What is the difference between dreamers and doers? Dreamers usually spend a great deal of their life whining and wishing things were different. Doers go after what they want, in essence, adapting to a system to prolong their life and prosperity. Doers create their future. Jim Cathcart says, “Dreamers stay stagnant and blame others for their lack of progress.” Are you a dreamer or a doer?
Anne M. Bachrach is known as The Accountability Coach™. She has 23 years of experience training and coaching. Business owners and entrepreneurs who utilize Anne’s proven systems and processes work less, make more money, and have a more balanced and successful life. Anne is the author of the book, Excuses Don’t Count; Results Rule!, and Live Life with No Regrets; How the Choices We Make Impact Our Lives.