The things every high-achiever should know
In: Achieving Goals22 Jun 2011
“Like a magnetized needle floating on a surface of oil, Resistance will unfailingly point to true North—meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing. We can use this. We can use it as a compass. We can navigate by Resistance, letting it guide us to that calling or purpose that we must follow before all others. Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
I was reading some of Pressfield’s writing earlier today, and I stumbled upon the above quote about resistance. This isn’t the first time I’ve come across this idea on resistance. In fact, after three years of floundering in one particular area of my life, I’ve found it to be perfectly accurate. As it turns out, the most valuable activity I could’ve been doing to achieve my goals was something I’d ignored and put off for years, simply because I felt so much resistance towards doing it. In my particular case, I was resisting all of the activities that would undo mental blocks I’ve had since I was a kid (see here for more on the activities I’m referring to).
What confuses me is that, although I’ve witnessed that resistance does appear strongest when an activity is most beneficial to our personal development, I still can’t understand why we feel such an intrinsic resistance. This is a question that delves into our very nature as human beings and I certainly won’t pretend to know the answer. Below are a few of my theories on why we feel so much resistance towards goals worth pursuing. After reading them over, leave a comment on this page as to which theory (or which combination of theories) you feel to be most true for you personally. Here we go:
Theory 1: Out of the Norm. Because we’re set in our ways of doing things, most of the time the only way to make any real, substantial progress is to do an activity that is incredibly out of the norm for us. Oftentimes, needed activities are so out of the norm that our bodies feel that much more resistance to trying it because it feels wrong, unnatural, or uncomfortable.
Theory 2: Inherent Dislike. We all inherently have certain activities we’ve been avoiding for a long time due to dislike. For example, exercise is a healthy activity that everyone should embrace. Although I love to exercise and go to the gym, many people hate it and will find any excuse to avoid it. As they ignore exercise from this inherent resistance, exercise becomes that much more important as they become unhealthier and more out of shape.
In other words, this theory lies on the idea that we all have activities that we simply hate to engage in, whether from nature or nurture. From years and years of neglect, the corresponding area in our lives decay and wither while the rest of us continues to grow healthily (for example, exercise is the activity and the corresponding area of our life is our health) . Therefore, these areas inevitably become the areas that are most important to our continued growth as a person, simply because balance is necessary for personal growth.
Theory 3: Long Term Goals vs. A Short Term Mind. More often than not, the most valuable activities we can possibly engage in are, by nature, very long-term oriented. Since our desires and urges focus on the short-term, the highly long-term characteristics of valuable personal growth activities are destined to be ignored and put off unless we have summon up strong discipline to do them anyway.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Why do we feel the most resistance towards activities that will do us the most good? Do you agree with any of the theories above? All three? None? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
I'm Jon Guerrera, a life hacker at heart, and the man behind the scenes here at Living For Improvement. This blog documents all of my successes, failures, experiments and lessons learned as I hack my way to happiness, fulfillment and success.
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