Go to any bookshop and look at the titles. Most try to tell you how to live your life. “Follow this 3-step plan to be rich. Think this one thought to be happy. Wake up every day at this hour to find yourself.” The truth is: they won’t save you.
I’ve had an enemy my entire life. It prevents me from being the person I want to be. From doing the things I want to do. From getting the things I want to get. Likely, it’s your enemy too, and you don’t even know it’s there.
I know I need to exercise. But I can’t get up from the sofa. There is a force keeping me down, telling me I shouldn’t move. It keeps my butt glued to the chair. It tells me it’s ok to skip today. It tells me about those delicious snacks in the fridge.
I know I need to connect with others. But the force consoles me. It tells me that it’s not worth the energy. Just be in your comfy bubble, it says, and take a day for yourself. You will keep on living anyway. You can satisfy your social needs by scrolling down on your phone.
I also know I need to write and create every day. But this force tells me I still have so much time in the future, so today can be a cheat day. It tells me that I deserve to be lazy, because I’ve worked so hard in the past. It tells me that I’m no good, and that nobody wants to read what I write, so there’s no point in even starting.
This force is working its effects on me even this very instant. It’s telling me to stop writing, because it’s so effortful. It told me many times it’d be better to watch a YouTube video. Just now it reminded me to check Amazon for that thing I wanted to get, and to check my phone in case some important notification came and I missed it.
The War of Art gives this force a name. It’s called Resistance.
Once you notice it, you see it everywhere. Resistance is the most pervasive force there is. It hides in all places, from the smallest daily actions to the most life-changing decisions. When you do a pushup, it tells you that you don’t need to go all the way down. When your house is in disorder, it tells you that you can tidy it up tomorrow. When you’re picking a job, it tells you that you should stick to what you already do.
Resistance is cunning, and way smarter than you. If you let it open its mouth, it can convince you of just about anything. It uses complex reasoning, tailored specifically to you, and all to keep you from doing what you need to do. It tells you that you shouldn’t even try because your best work is in the past. It tells you that you can eat that Nutella jar because your aunt bought it, so it doesn’t really “count.” It tells you that you can’t start a new routine today because it’s not Monday, or because it’s not the first of the month. If you were to say these things out loud, people would laugh you out of the room. But Resistance is so convincing, and so alluring, that you believe everything it says.
If you don’t do anything about it, you’ll become Resistance’s puppet. That is our natural state of being. Back in our early days, Resistance was useful. We had to run to hunt, and we had to hunt to eat. We were moving all day just to survive, so Resistance reminded us to rest and eat our sweets. Resistance was balanced out. But now, there is no hunt. Resistance took over.
Thing is, even today, Resistance is useful. Because it’s a compass. If it’s telling you not to do something, likely, that thing is what’s good for you. If you want to know what you should be working on, look at what Resistance is trying to prevent you from doing, and do it.
I know it’s easier said than done. The struggle with Resistance is a lifelong one. You may not defeat it completely, but you can suppress it. How? There are some things Resistance hates. For example:
If you start working on your craft every day at 9 no matter what happens, Resistance is powerless to stop you. If you have no unhealthy food at home, Resistance can’t make you eat it. If you’re used to moving every day, Resistance has a harder time making you lazy. And so on.
I’ve been fighting Resistance for a long time. Likely, you have too. Giving it a name and personifying it helped immensely. Before, I blamed “laziness” or some other property without shape. Now, it has a name and a personality. It’s my enemy, my adversary. And my goal is to defeat it so soundly it won’t ever bother me again.
One Friday afternoon, you have an idea.
During the next two days, something takes over you. You barely recognize yourself. You barely lift your head from the keyboard. On Monday, you come out with a prototype.
Most people get luck wrong. I realized this when I changed my behaviour in one or two ways and suddenly got luckier.
Everybody says you should play the long game, but few tell you how. With the Lindy Effect, a simple yet powerful idea, you’ll instantly become a better long-term thinker.
I have years of experience against it. I know it’s there, and I see it coming. But it’s too strong. I fell for the productivity trap again.
Quantity and quality. Two opposite concepts, poles at the ends of a spectrum.