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The Secret Only the Most Productive People Know

Steven Pressfield, the author of The War of Art, who frequently spoke of his own battles as a writer in getting started, dealing with boredom, and getting his book finished, once said this:

"The more important a call to action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel about answering it. But to yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be."

He capitalized the word resistance because of how common a challenge this energy force is to the lives of creators and writers. I’ve always loved this quote because it flips the idea that we need to do what we love as creators. No matter what type of work we are involved with, the creative process is supposed to be full of Resistance.


Whether we openly admit it or not, the main reason so many of us quit projects, fail to show up at our desks, and decide to procrastinate is that a part of us expects the process to be entirely forgiving. We use our sense of boredom or Resistance to avoid sitting down and doing the work.

And in some cases, we use our frequent discomfort with the work, whether it’s “Not really feeling it today or not seeing the success we’d hoped for soon enough––as a reason to quit entirely.

“It clearly wasn’t for me,” we say, with a hint of regret in our sighs.

But here’s the thing. It was for you.

If something is feasible for you when you start, it’s feasible for you all the way to completion.

It's not about the nature of the work that should be the indicator of what to discontinue, avoid, and procrastinate on. It isn’t because you aren’t cut out for baking that is a valid enough reason for you to discontinue. What’s important is your willingness to sit through the little twinges of annoyance, discomfort, and boredom.

It is to be okay with this statement attached to your projects:

It isn’t always supposed to be easy.

Read that again.

This changed the game for me, and I still rely on these words when things aren’t flowing as smoothly as I’d like. If it hurts a little, good. That’s because you care. You want to succeed. You want to avoid mistakes, and you want to make it perfect.

But your pursuit of perfection in the work closes you. It seizes up your muscles and tightens your throat. No wonder you’re not enjoying the process. You’ve assigned too much meaning to it.

Forget all that for now, and go back to the secret:

Productive people expect it to be both enjoyable and occasionally not fun.

They expect the ups and downs, especially in the initial stages of projects (but also in the messy middle and the must get it perfect final stages too).

But we can go a step further.

When we expect Resistance to show up, what happens?

We aren’t so surprised when it turns up at the door and starts knocking. We left the door ajar a little anyway because it’s okay if the Resistance comes in. You aren’t sweating bullets trying to hold the door closed.

With this acceptance comes relief and a more relaxed state. The kind of state that makes the work enjoyable again.

Resistance felt, welcomed, and accepted becomes enjoyment.

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