The writer Steven Pressfield in his books The War of Art and Do the Work talks about a concept he calls Resistance. Resistance is a cold, impersonal force that acts against every creative endeavor you feel passionate about. He writes about it mostly in the context of art– Resistance is the nagging voice inside of you telling you that you can never be a real writer, that you’ll never finish your symphony, and that your paintings suck. It’s all the distractions to keep you from ever sitting down at your typewriter. Resistance can even take the form of all the legitimate reasons not to pick up your violin today– you do need to pick up the kids from school, and someone has to take out the trash.
Resistance is opposed to any endeavor we take that makes us a better person or the world a better place or brings us closer to our calling. Opening a restaurant? Starting a family? Voting your (unpopular) conscience? The universe is not apathetic to these actions; it is actively hostile. Resistance is that hostility.
Resistance knows you’d grow by doing these things, and it’s there to keep you from growing. If you give into it, you will die regretful and wondering. Resistance wants you to die like that. It hates you.
Here’s the good news though: Resistance means you’re doing something right. It will come knocking down your door with distractions, excuses, and self-doubt literally 100% of the time you’re moving towards what Pressfield calls a “higher spiritual plane”. On the other hand, if you are a giving up your life as a volunteer with Calcutta orphans to go work at Goldman Sachs, Read More
I told the story earlier of one of the best summers of my life. It was that awesome because I (somewhat inadvertently) followed three simple steps.
- Make a list of your life goals
- Circle the ones you could start working on tomorrow
- Start tonight
“Starting tomorrow” is the enemy. It was the whole reason I hadn’t started in decades. Years of starting to train for a marathon tomorrow meant never starting to train for a marathon.
I didn’t want to go for a run that night, but I had to start. So instead, I e-mailed my friends who had run marathons: “What’s the shortest training program you know of for first-time marathoners?” I didn’t want to be a chronic distance runner; I wanted to check an item off of a list.
The winner was an 18-week program from an old professor of mine. I went online to look at the date of the NYC marathon, and counted back 17 weeks, 5 days to figure out when I’d have to run my first training run.
At least the universe was conspiring with me (albeit in an uncomfortably overt way). Starting is half the battle, and I won half the battle right there. I got up and ran five kilometers. Four and a half months later, I went to NYC to run forty-two kilometers. Read More
Here’s a question worth asking yourself:
If you never had to work another day in your life, and money was no object, what would you do?
I heard that question senior year of college. I put the book I was reading down and glanced blankly at the ceiling. That night I gave my imagination 10 million dollars, 80 years, and made the list. Though it was phrased differently, I realized I had essentially created a list of life goals.
The first funny realization I had about my list was that despite the prompt, most things on the list didn’t require a million dollars to start doing– not even close.
- Run the NYC marathon
- Learn Krav Maga
- Publish a book
To be fair, some things would have required some extra capital.
- Go shark fishing in Africa
- Be a researcher in Antarctica for a few months
- Become a BASE jumper
A few months after making my list, I found myself with roughly six weeks of free time. After wasting two days refreshing facebook and reading useless blogs, I found the folded-up piece of paper with the list, circled the ones I could start doing tomorrow, and went to it.
Each week for the rest of the summer, I rock climbed twice, ran three times in training for the NYC marathon, and took four Krav Maga lessons. I read every day. My personal training in life goals accomplishment required very little money at all (the Krav gym gave me a massive discount), but I was filling my schedule with the things I would freely choose to do had I infinite resources.
That was one of the best summers of my life. It was refreshing and optimistic. I know why– it’s because I did those things which built me up, which gave me energy– the things I deemed more worth doing than anything else. The lessons I took from that summer ended up shaping the next year of my life, and giving me an idea that I believe should have existed long ago (that will be covered soon).
Twelve months later, I realize I have started taking my goals in life seriously. And I’m trying to help others do the same. To those ends, I’ve created this blog.
I don’t know exactly what I will post here, but I promise to put my best foot forward. If you want to join me, write down your list– call it your bucket list, your bohemian millionaire list, your bargain with death, I don’t care– but write it down and read on. Everything in the world will conspire to raze the dreams you don’t take seriously. But put your foot in the door. Make the list and make a brief commitment– make it right now, because it’s time to start taking your dreams very seriously.