Blank canvas. White sheet of paper. Unformed ball of clay.
Not the “artistic” type? How about these:
Unformatted Excel sheet. First page of the tax return. Math problem #1 of #100.
Do those words scare the shit out of you? They sure scare me.
Those words almost destroyed me several years ago.
Procrastination and Resistance almost got to my soul, my essence. They almost killed me.
As a result, I have nothing but malice towards them.
Maybe you have the same problem. Do you have a side project you’d like to get started on “some day”, a book that you’re “too busy” to write, a canvas you “need the perfect brushes to paint on”?
If so, Procrastination and Resistance have got you by the throat. You just don’t know it.
Or.. maybe you do know it. Maybe you know it and you feel like you’re not strong enough to do battle against them. If so, then I’d suggest you read this article.
In this article I’m going to:
- Show you why we procrastinate
- How Resistance aids Procrastination to squeeze your potential
- How to destroy these two for good
If you want to reach your true potential, you must stamp these two out. There is no other way.
Why Do We Procrastinate?
This is the question that has puzzled the greatest minds and philosophers the world has ever known.
I don’t know exactly why, but I’m going to take a crack at it.
In the article on Social Intelligence, I briefly touched on the human tendency to take the path of least resistance. We collectively as a species want to reach our goals and objectives the fastest way possible with the least effort possible.
Fair enough. Most of our modern day conveniences wouldn’t exist without this in-built desire.
This tendency opens the door to Procrastination.
However, we procrastinate because we believe that somehow (in some magical Willy Wonka-esque way) that all of our goals and objectives will achieve themselves. It’s a lot of effort to learn how to do something, so why not watch a movie instead? After all, there’s always tomorrow.
At this point, you’re probably thinking there is no big deal. Sure, there’s no big deal… until tomorrow actually comes and the same shit happens over and over again. Fast forward a year later and nothing has changed.
You’re still working the same shitty job, living in the same crappy apartment, hanging out with the same loser “friends”.
What’s going on here? Resistance.
Resistance is the real enemy, Procrastination is just how it shows up in the world.
Waging War Against Your Darker Nature
Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art is one of the best books that I have ever read on the subject of why we find it so hard to accomplish certain things. In his own poetic way, he describes Resistance and Procrastination as the barrier between the life we live right now and the un lived life our soul calls us to.
“Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.” – Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
Resistance is that invisible, constrictive, choking force that we feel when get the desire to take an action.
Fear. Anxiety. Manic-Depressive thoughts. All of these are physical symptoms of Resistance and Procrastination.
Change is hard. No one wants to change. Things are “ok”, why change them? Why strive for better if we’re just “getting along“? It’s a lot easier to complain about mediocrity than actually fix it.
Taking responsibility is also hard too… Responsibility is like a hot potato everyone wants to pass along to the next guy.
Of course, we numb these feelings away with drugs, banging girls, Internet, or stuffing our mouths with calories we shouldn’t be eating.
In Pressfield’s mind, he believes that Resistance is responsible for most of the evil in the world. Based on the next paragraph, I’d agree.
“If tomorrow morning by some stroke of magic every dazed and benighted soul woke up with the power to take the first step towards pursuing his or her dreams, every shrink in the directory would be out of business. Prisons would stand empty. The alcohol and tobacco industries would collapse, along with the junk food, cosmetic surgery, and infotainment businesses…as would addiction, obesity, migraine headaches…”
If everyone was working hard in the direction of their dreams, I doubt there would be time for complaining or self-pity of any kind.It's a lot easier to complain about mediocrity than actually fix it. Click To Tweet
Why Procrastination Is Hard To Beat
Procrastination is a tough habit to kick because of these three factors:
- It’s encouraged
- It’s invisible
- It’s subtle
We live in a society where Procrastination is encouraged.
Marketers and people who make a killing off of your attention don’t want you solving your problems yourself. They want to sell you a product and get you hooked on that product. Just like a dealer and his junkie “friend”.
Procrastination cannot be seen, tasted, smelt, touched, or heard. It can only be felt as a gnawing discomfort in the pit of your stomach. Again, just buy a product and pop a pill. It will be alright.
By the time the children of Procrastination are seen in the world, Procrastination is long gone. The person who was seduced by Procrastination is left in a daze while Procrastination left early to avoid the Walk of Shame. Procrastination is made stronger by The Slight Edge.
How can you beat an enemy you can’t see, that everyone encourages to show up (like that annoying Uncle at a family dinner), and is so sneaky to prevent detection?
Simple. You outsmart it. Here’s how.
4 Methods on How to Stop Procrastination
These four methods will work, only if you work them. You need to have a serious and concerted effort to stop this thing from encroaching into your life at all costs.
You think I’m kidding? Procrastination and Resistance will body slam you and make you squeal like a pig for mercy. They take no prisoners.
Let’s get started.
1. Practice Self-Discipline
If you cannot discipline yourself, you are fucked.
There’s no other way to put it. Self-discipline comes at the head of the list of must-haves to defeat Procrastination.
No one is perfectly self-disciplined all of the time. But if you can make it your predominant mental attitude, you’re on the right track.
“..Those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.” – Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
I’ve written a three part series on how to go about doing that. Read it and start putting it into practice.
When we drug ourselves to blot out our soul’s call, we are being good Americans and exemplary consumers. We’re doing exactly what TV commercials and pop culture have been brainwashing us to do from birth. Instead of applying self-knowledge, self-discipline, delayed gratification, and hard work, we simply consume a product. – Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
2. Well Thought Out To-Do List
A well-made to-do list will save you. Not only will you be able to write down things you have to do (in case you forget), but it will keep you on track during your day.
As a rule, it is best to do your most important tasks early in the morning – when you have more willpower.
You know, those tasks that you kept putting off and putting off until they became gigantic near-apocalyptic problems? Yeah, those ones.
The best to-do list is something that you can get done within the span of a day. Don’t put 30 tasks on there, because you’re probably only going to be able to do around 10 of them.
Organize it by priority and sequence. Priority are things that need to be done. Sequential items are tasks that can only be completed after a certain task is done. Sometimes priority and sequence fall into the same order, sometimes they don’t.
Plan accordingly. Establish daily rituals.
3. Stop Being Perfect
You don’t need to be perfect to get started. “Perfectionitis” (as I like to call it) stopped me from doing many things.
You’ll never have all of the knowledge, all of the skills, all of the resources required to complete a certain objective.
Part of the reason why the self-help industry is a multi-billion dollar industry is because many people think that they need more books, more videos, more CDs before they get started.
These are all just vehicles for Procrastination.
We could always use more knowledge and skills. But you need to distinguish the difference between proactive learning and mental masturbation.
Procrastination and Resistance are usually disguised as the latter in the form of self-help material.
4. Cut Yourself Off
Technology has brought our world new waves of unparalleled opportunity, but it has also brought us unprecedented distraction.
Notifications, apps, videos, muzak…endless noise. Our modern world is inherently against focus.
It’s easy to get sucked in to these things. They’re the path of least resistance. By default, they enable Procrastination.
Ask yourself, what tangible artifacts have you produced within the past month? If you’re a writer, how many pieces have you written? If you’re a guitarist, how many songs have you learned recently?
You need to cut yourself off when you’re doing work. No mindless Internet surfing, no checking social media for “updates”, no playing with your phone.
A distraction free state will allow you to get into that “deep work” flow state that produces tangible results.
Do It Now.
Procrastination and Resistance fucked me up for many years.
Resistance convinced me that I couldn’t do certain things. After pushing through Resistance, I learned that it was a big damn lie and that I could do anything if I was willing to put the work into it.
Procrastination and Resistance aren’t something you fight against once and it’s done. It is a battle waged day after day after day.
It is a battle you can only win with self-discipline, determination, desire, and a burning contempt for Procrastination.
You can do it. You just need to take the first step. Use these tools and put them to good use in the battle against Procrastination.
What have been your experiences with Procrastination and Resistance? Let me know in the comments!