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Overcoming Internal Resistance

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  • Overcoming Internal Resistance

    I encounter a lot of resistance in myself when doing activities where I won't see any real impact for a while (even thought I know it will benefit me long term). Some examples are: promoting a new venture, practicing guitar, exercise etc.

    I'm trying to think more strategically about overcoming this kind of resistance. It's not a question of GTD practicalities (I've got appropriate reminders etc), it's more a motivation question for me. The two tricks that I've found most helpful are:
    1. to try and give myself as much data to use as feedback about the process, even though no "outcome" will arrive for some time. For example, tracking my own sales activity helped me overcome the resistance to selling.
    2. Committing myself to others as a motivation. For example, I really felt motivated to practice guitar more when I agreed to start gigging!

    I'd be interested to hear others' experiences of meeting internal resistance... How do you overcome it?

  • #2
    Originally posted by JakeInBrighton View Post
    I'd be interested to hear others' experiences of meeting internal resistance... How do you overcome it?
    Unfortunately the most effective method is to "just do it". Once I've overcome the inertia to start the ball rolling it usually gets easier. The act of doing often leads to ideas of more interesting ways of achieving the goal of the activity. Or a realisation that I would be better off abandoning the activity altogether.

    Also having the 30,000ft+ levels defined properly helps. If you realise how your humdrum activity directly or indirectly links up to your life purpose, it tends to improve motivation....

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    • #3
      Short list

      I have a very short 'these are urgent actions' list. Putting one action in there (at Weekly review) that moves me forward on a project that I'm resisting (exercise was one). And not putting many more in that short list until that important action is done.... Yes it's difficult, but immensely fulfilling when you feel the boulder finally inching forward. Best wishes!

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      • #4
        A few things help me:
        • Only planning to do X for 15 minutes (or even less if I really don't want to do it)
        • Lots of little milestones
        • Lots of little rewards!

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        • #5
          One other thing you could do is to find Mark Forster's book, Get everything done and still have time to play. The book is all about overcoming resistance and some of the tips and strategies he uses can certainly be used with a GTD list.

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          • #6
            Check out the book "the war of art" its all about htis inner resistance. Really worthwhile book.

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            • #7
              Resistance is normal. It's a muscle that can be retrained.

              Once you get momentum and you take small steps, you will start to see the snowball effect.

              I see resistance is normal. You want to do something or achieve a goal, but at the same time you have a moral dilemma. Do I pursue this now? Or push it on the back burner?

              We've all shared problems of motivation, time, resources. What really got me inspired was the book ReWork from Jason Freid over at 37 signals.

              I got a tip last week, about handling paper that's sitting on your desk. Each time you find something on your desk and you don't do it. Punch a hole in it or draw a small circle on the sheet each time you don't take action.

              If you find enough holes on the sheet, you know that it's finally time do something about it.

              Regards,
              Ian

              It changed the way I thought about producitvity in the office. I run a virtual office and this really upped my game.

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              • #8
                committing to others

                Originally posted by JakeInBrighton View Post
                2. Committing myself to others as a motivation.
                Hi there Jake, committing yourself to others is huge, it also helps me to keep moving.

                This website is designed to do just that, it has helped me a lot already: www.stickk.com (I'm not affiliated with this site, just a happy user)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by JakeInBrighton View Post
                  Committing myself to others as a motivation.
                  In one of my bands, we had a member who adored being on stage, and booked gigs without consulting any of us. This was a very smart move. Our initial anger and anxiety gave way to long practices and professionalism. Without his gumption, I'd still be plucking away in parent's basement.

                  When your inertia and anxiety is getting the best of you, hire or find someone to kick your a@@. It's bitter medicine, but it works.

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                  • #10
                    Lots of good advice in this thread! Here are my 2 cents:

                    1. Clarify your expectations. If you made a career out of your most liked ever thing, don't expect endless bliss from your hobbies! What exactly does and doesn't "winning" mean to you? Include feelings.

                    2. A decision is also a fare-well. Be clear and upfront to yourself that by deciding for one thing, you decided against at least 5 other things. Be harsh to yourself about that in order to get though to your self with the message. Wether you are a type for 2 or 10 activities, the basic principle remains. Do your thing and put all else away, out of your life. Make space for the stuff you want to engage in. Why do you even still have that TV standing around there? To shoot down your evening when you are most vulnerable?

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                    • #11
                      Here are some methods I use:

                      -- Exercise is key. When you're physically in shape, it's easier to get the
                      motivation to exercise more and also easier to get the motivation to do
                      mental work and other stuff, I find.

                      -- Find fun and/or useful ways to exercise. I do learning activities (reading or singing)
                      during some types of exercise. Some of my exercise is to go places (walking, cycling).
                      Signing up for scheduled exercise classes can be a lot more motivating
                      than exercising alone at home.

                      -- Choose a simple, easy first step. One of the books (maybe by David Allen,
                      maybe somebody else) suggested changing into exercise clothes, because then
                      you start feeling like exercising. For other activities there may be other first
                      steps, like getting out a nice letter-opener; or standing up, walking around
                      in a circle, and saying "Now I'm going to ...". The tiny bit of exercise
                      increases blood flow and makes it easier to get the motivation. Saying something
                      out loud also helps.

                      -- Give yourself rewards. One of my problems is: I earn rewards but am too
                      busy to take them! So I usually try to choose rewards that don't take much time.
                      A reward can be a simple thing like looking at the pictures in a particular book.
                      If you've chosen it as a reward for a particular activity, then it will feel like a reward.

                      -- Positive reinforcement: one definition of this is pleasant things that happen
                      during (not after) the activity. For example, listening to music while doing something.

                      -- Divide the project into parts and plan a celebration after finishing each part.
                      Look at what you've done and feel good about that.

                      -- At the beginning of the day do something difficult you've been putting off; then do easier things the rest of the day. (see the book "Eat that Frog!".)

                      -- Set reasonable expectations for new habits: so your overall day will be somewhat
                      better than before, but not unrealistically totally changed. Once those new
                      habits are well ingrained, then you can move forward further to improve some more
                      habits. Trying to change too much at once may be too overwhelming. (according
                      to the book Willpower by Baumeister and Tierney.)

                      -- The Now Habit at Work by Fiore says to set a goal of doing new, good habits for
                      30 days. Preferably 30 consecutive days, but if you mess up one day, then you just
                      don't count that day, and continue counting from where you'd gotten to the day before. I really like this method! It's encouraging, not discouraging.

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                      • #12
                        I recently found this helpful

                        http://zenhabits.net/zm/
                        I'm in a relatively new job (3 months) and that means coming to terms with a lot of things (jargon, organisational culture, aligning to corporate norms (and breaking some), getting to know new team members, some local and some remote) and in all this, as usual, deliver valuable work.

                        I'm no newbie to this, I celebrate my half century next month, but for some reason this post worked for me. It helped me see (reminded me?) that everything, no matter how daunting, is mostly a series of small steps, and each of these mean relatively little on their own.

                        Maybe this perspective can apply to internal resistance. It did to me with my to do list each day. Every item is a small step on the way to the next one. Just complete the next step.

                        This is probably not completely aligned to your point but I am just a tad amazed that this seems to have worked for me at 50!

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by cwoodgold View Post
                          Exercise is key.
                          OK, I'm quoting myself; but I realized after writing this that exercise
                          seems to help in at least 4 ways:

                          -- In the very short term: exercising for a few seconds or minutes
                          increases your circulation and helps you have the energy to do something
                          (mental or physical) right now.

                          -- In the short term: it's said that a good, vigorous workout raises your
                          dopamine levels, lasting for four hours, during which time you can focus
                          and concentrate better.

                          -- In the medium term: if you've been exercising regularly in the past
                          weeks and months, you're more physically fit and feel more energetic
                          about both mental and physical tasks.

                          -- In the long term: Exercise helps you be healthier and live longer,
                          so you have more years of good health during which to get things done.

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                          • #14
                            I really appreciate all the useful feedback on this thread. Thanks so much everyone!

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                            • #15
                              One word

                              Pomodoros!

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