I always know right before I am about to slip into hell.
The day starts out innocently enough.
I brew a strong cup of Peet’s French Roast. Then walk outside barefoot to get the paper, stopping to smell the fresh air, and see the bright sun peeking up from behind the Superstition Mountains. The stillness of the morning makes everything feel fresh and new.
My kids start the early morning downstairs in their jammies, and they have a droopy gaze from just waking up. They plead for me to come over to the couch and snuggle. As they press up against me and bury their heads under my chin, their hair smells sweet.
As the coffee kicks in, I think about the work I need to get done that day.
I may need to write a part of my new book. Or course materials for a class I am teaching. Or a sales letter for a new product.
There are always little things to do, like guest posts or book blurbs.
The list feels feasible. The day stretches out in front of me like a slow summer day. Peaceful, open, expansive.
After dropping off the kids, I get into the office and settle in.
I check email, open Hootsuite and look at my Twitter stream. It feels good to connect with my community and catch up on the prior night’s missed replies.
The hour starts to slip away.
I want to get started on my to-do list, but I know that I still have plenty of time. So I keep surfing around, and get a little inspiration.
A TED talk might fire me up, so I watch my favorite.
Feeling good, I start to open Google docs to start writing.
But before I get more than a few words on the page, I realize that I never got back to someone interested in hiring me to speak.
So I switch over to email and find and respond to the inquiry.
More emails have come in, so I take care of the urgent ones for a few minutes.
It is now about 11:15.
A coaching call is coming up in about 45 minutes, so I realize I don’t have enough time to really get on a roll and finish a project.
And I start to feel slightly sick inside.
Trying to shake it off, I busy myself with a bit of administrative work, none of which is on my critical and important list.
The coaching call comes and goes.
I am hungry, so I head out to pick up some lunch.
I call my best friend, and get inspired talking about a new future project.
It is now about 1:45.
I suddenly feel the pressure of the end of the day coming. No longer an open, expansive stretch of time, the day has turned into a vise, and it begins squeezing my head.
I start to feel desperate.
And think “Jesus Christ, woman, by this point in the day, Chris Brogan would have written five blog posts, created a new product and landed a huge sponsor for one of his projects. Why can’t you get your work done?”
Like a moth drawn to a camping lantern, I am pulled into a new tab of the endless Internet.
Suddenly, I have to see the 60 Minutes expose on the Three Cups of Tea scandal.
It leads to more videos and news stories.
I turn to Twitter to drum up some conversation. I want to feel better.
If it gets really bad, I will follow random links on Twitter like Kate Hudson Hates Her Big New Pregancy Breasts.
And if there is food anywhere in the vicinity, I will suddenly need to eat it. Old jelly beans, leftover muffins in the office kitchen, ANYTHING which will dull the pain of realizing that I am slipping away into the void.
And I think “This day is gone. I am gone, and I didn’t get a damned thing done.”
What has happened is that I have been defeated by what Steven Pressfield calls Resistance. The insidious, sulfer-scented dragon of a beast whose sole intention is to suck all the intelligence, creativity and goodness out of my body and heart.
All that is left is a defeated shadow of my real self, with a stomach ache and sugar hangover. Longing to go to sleep to start the day over again tomorrow.
Resistance is fierce, and there are days when it kicks my ass.
It doesn’t have to.
Productivity hacks among you could identify dozens of critical flaws in the way I start my day. You are probably right.
But the bigger picture is that I need to learn to study the beast of Resistance, and adjust my creative process so that I do not experience another lost day.
Today, Steven Pressfield releases his new book, Do the Work. I had the incredible honor to interview him, and talk about his deep insight about how to overcome Resistance. Where his masterpiece The War of Art helped to clearly explain what resistance is and how it stops you from doing your great work, Do the Work is the How-To manual for how to overcome it. I cannot recommend it enough, and will prescribe it to all my new clients. Get it here.
Listen in here to our 30-minute conversation. (Download link here)
Resistance is as real as the shadows cast by the sun at high noon.
It is part of the creative process. It doesn’t have to defeat you. It won’t defeat me.