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Move Toward Your Resistance

December 13, 2011

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Thomas Edison (1847-1931); American inventor

As humans, we seem to have an almost biological drive towards the path of least resistance. Chalk it up to days when food was scarce and the number of predators were high; if we could conserve energy and make it through the day, we’d do so every single time.

We have a lot of good instincts when it comes to self-preservation. Pain is a handy reminder that something is wrong, or we shouldn’t try something again. The “fight or flight” response is always there to spark us into action when we feel our lives are threatened. But at times, it’s best (and even necessary) to overcome our natural responses.

Usually when you contemplate a task–be it getting to the gym, calling a client with bad news, or avoiding that second piece of holiday pie–your mind does a quick cost/benefit analysis of the idea. The problem is, our brains usually look at the immediate short-term cost without an adequate assessment of the long-term gains. Or, our brain pushes the short term pleasure (sitting here) versus the projected costs (wind sprints on the treadmill). Pie is delicious. Watching people eat pie is no fun.

One of the most useful exercises I do to try and overcome “the short and easy path” is a little something I call “Move Toward Your Resistance.” It goes like this: Every time I think of something I should do, and my brain triggers that lazy little “I’d rather not” response, I immediately tackle some aspect of the task at hand. In other words, when I’d rather not do something, I recognize it as something I must do and coax myself to do it.

Here’s the thing: I always feel better after moving toward my resistance. By doing so, I break the loop of “I should do this / I’ll do it later / I wish this was done / I’ll do it later.”

As you plan for the year ahead, make a conscious effort to recognize when you feel resistance around an idea or task. Note the resistance and make an effort to move toward that which sounds unpleasant. It’s a great way to force yourself to attain higher levels of productivity, and the mental boost you’ll experience from knocking unpleasant tasks off the list is fantastic.

The only caveat: Don’t go walking into fires or wrestling mountain lions. Some instincts are worth obeying!

 

Source:  Scott Levitt / 12/2011

 

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