How I’m Beating Resistance, One Word at a Time

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My biggest writing hurdle has always been consistency. I get “inspired” to write for a few days, or weeks, then lose my motivation just as quickly, and avoid the blank screen for months, even years.

The longer I stay away, the harder it is to get back. I’ve abandoned plenty of half-written blog posts, and filled dozens of notebooks with my private handwritten ramblings, but my blogging has remained at a standstill for over a year.

Why does this happen?

Anyone who’s ever embarked on a creative endeavor knows the paralyzing fears and self-doubt that plague most all creators. In The War Of Art, Steven Pressfield even gave them a name: RESISTANCE.

The voices in our head are rarely positive or encouraging, and we believe the cruel lies they tell us. Our inner critic feeds our fears and tears us down until it’s easier to just give up than to create.

So what am I gonna do about it?

One of my strongest beliefs about developing good habits is that making small, incremental changes is far more effective for producing permanent results than big, drastic, all-or-nothing efforts. To quote one of Gretchen Rubin’s Secrets of Adulthood:

“What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.”

Slow and steady really does win the race. This approach has helped me manage my finances, health, and home for years, so why not apply it to my writing?

That’s it! I will steadily chip away at my fears / writer’s block / RESISTANCE by writing at least 100 words every day for the remainder of 2018. A hundred words isn’t too intimidating or time-consuming. They don’t have to be perfect. They just have to be written. 

Honest words. My words.

I will dig my way out of this deep, dark hole — ONE WORD AT A TIME.

And if you find yourself languishing in the same hole, I hope you’ll start digging too. 

~PEACE~

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Cool Podcasts for Downshifters

I recently started listening to podcasts during my half-hour commute to & from work every day. I know, I know… I’m arriving at this party a little late, but this is by far the best new thing to happen to my daily routine in a long time! Why didn’t I think of this before? Now I’m arriving at my day job energized and motivated, with my mind full of new input for my writing and creative pursuits. By the time I get home, I’ve usually jotted down a few new ideas and resources that I can’t wait to research and start working with.

Plus, podcasts are FREE, and soooo much safer than trying to read a book while I’m driving.

Since I’m just getting started, this is my very short list of the podcasts that have inspired me so far. I hope they’ll do the same for you. If you know of any other great podcasts that have helped you find balance, simplify your life, improve your writing, pursue your passions, live a healthier life, or form good habits, please share!

The Minimalists Podcast

In their new podcast, just launched last month, The Minimalists Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus discuss living a meaningful life with less stuff. This is the podcast that convinced me that podcasts were a good idea, so if you need convincing too, start here.

The Portfolio Life with Jeff Goins

As he does in his books, Jeff Goins shares thoughts and ideas that will help you to pursue work that matters, make a difference with your art, and discover your true voice. Episode 003, “How to Chase a Dream Without Quitting Your Job,” is a must-listen. His guest list is a who’s-who of today’s heavy-hitting inspirational speakers and authors. The episodes featuring interviews with Gretchen Rubin (018) and Tim Ferriss (004) are among my favorites so far.

Speaking of Gretchen Rubin…

Happier with Gretchen Rubin

The #1 best-selling author of The Happiness Project shares her practical advice about happiness and good habits in this “lively, thought-provoking podcast.” Sometimes it gets a little corny, and her topics are widely varied, so I’m picky about which episodes I listen to, but Gretchen’s honest tried-and-true advice usually manages to enhance my happiness in unexpected ways.

And Tim Ferriss…

The Tim Ferriss Show

“Self-experimenter” and best-selling author Tim Ferriss “deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, chess, pro sports, etc.), digging deep to find the tools, tactics, and tricks that listeners can use.” I haven’t had a chance to listen to many episodes, but I love everything Tim does, and his wide-reaching guest list – from Seth Godin to Jamie Foxx – is guaranteed to engage and inspire.

Over It And On With It with Christine Hassler

Life coach and author Christine Hassler coaches live callers on the problems – and opportunities – we all face in relationships, careers, health, transitions, finances, life purpose, spirituality, or anything else they have questions about. She uses her signature balance of practical tools and spiritual principles to help us all overcome the obstacles that hold us back from living the lives we were meant to live.

All of these podcasts, and thousands more, are easily accessible via the iTunes store. Happy listening (and learning)!

~PEACE~

Freedom From Choice

For me, the foundation of a simpler, streamlined life is built on good habits. In her new book, Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin asserts:

“A habit requires no decision from me, because I’ve already decided. Am I going to brush my teeth when I wake up? Am I going to take this pill? I decide, then I don’t decide; mindfully, then mindlessly. I shouldn’t worry about making healthy choices. I should make one healthy choice, and then stop choosing.”

I agree with this approach, and have had some success with using habits and routines to save my time and brainpower by eliminating some of the decision-making from my day.

When I eat the same healthy breakfast or lunch every day, I have one less thing to agonize over during the course of my day.

Dressing in the same basic work “uniform” saves so much time — no more staring into the closet trying to figure out what to wear every morning!

My friend Norm starts every day by going for a run, without fail. It’s as much a part of his morning routine as showering and brushing his teeth.

Why reinvent the wheel every day when there are so many aspects of our lives that we can put on autopilot? By eliminating some of these mundane decisions, we can free up our minds, and our time, to focus on more interesting choices and opportunities.

Honestly, though, the only downside I’ve found to this method is that I do get bored sometimes. A soothing routine can start to feel like a rut after a while. I crave variety in my diet. I get sick of wearing the same old clothes all the time. So once in a while, I make the conscious decision to mix it up, at least for a day or two.

But after I get it out of my system, I usually return to my same comforting routines and good habits. What can I say? When you know what works for you, you stick with it!

~PEACE~

 

 

Commitment and Accountability

According to Gretchen Rubin, in her latest book Better Than Before, one of the best strategies for forming a new habit (and sticking to it) is the Strategy of Accountability.

“Accountability is a powerful factor in habit formation, and a ubiquitous feature in our lives. If we believe that someone’s watching, we behave differently. Deadlines help us keep the habit of working. Late fees help us pay our bills on time. Grades help us study. Attendance records help us get our children to school on time. When we believe that we may be held accountable for our actions — even when we’re accountable only to ourselves — we show more self-command.”

I am invoking this strategy by declaring publicly, right NOW, my commitment to publish a new post on Downshifter’s Journal every day during the month of May.

My posts won’t necessarily be long, or brilliant, or PERFECT, but they WILL be there every day for you, my followers, to hold me accountable!

I’m really looking forward to challenging myself, developing my writing practice with you, and making Downshifter’s Journal a daily part of my life (and, I hope, yours). Please don’t let me fall behind, and in exchange, I’ll try not to get all preachy, or bore you too much.

“Don’t be a writer, be writing.” – JamesClear.com

~PEACE~

Getting Serious About Leisure

The main goal of downshifting, for most of us, is to reduce the amount of time we spend on the job in order to devote more of our precious time to actually living and enjoying our lives. However, once we do manage to disengage from our work and gain more free time, many of us are at a loss as to what exactly we want to do with it. We’re so used to feeling the need to be productive 24/7 and not “waste time,” that we don’t know how to shift gears, slow down, and use our spare time to figure out (and do) the things that are really important to us.

This year, I’ve resolved to use up as much of my vacation time from work as I possibly can. I’ve also resolved to call in sick when I’m sick, and take an occasional mental health day if I feel the need! It’s time to get serious about my life outside of work, and focus on doing the things that are truly important to me, especially writing. My long-term goal? Ditch the “day job,” live the life of my dreams, and generate a decent income for myself. Sounds pretty cool, huh? Unfortunately, I can be my own worst enemy when it comes to pursuing my dreams, because, well, they’re just dreams, right?

One of my favorite features of Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project blog is her Secrets of Adulthood series. The Secret that really hit home for me recently?

OneOfTheWorstWaysToSpendTime_124822

Guilty! How much cleaner can my floors possibly be? Do I really need to be checking Facebook right now? Quick, easy, and mindless tasks are my forte! They are so much easier than overcoming fear and self-doubt, and sitting down to write.

From John Cleese on Creativity, at approx. 15:30 (but please watch the whole thing if you have time!): “It’s easier to do trivial things that are urgent, than it is to do important things that are not urgent, like THINKING. And it’s also easier to do little things we know we can do, than to start on big things that we’re not so sure about.” He uses the example of “sorting out my paperclips,” among others, to point out the ridiculous lengths we go to in order to distract ourselves and avoid doing the important work that we know deep down really needs to be done.

In the book that inspired me to start writing this blog, The War of Art, Steven Pressfield describes our inner Resistance as follows:

“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance… Late at night have you experienced a vision of the person you might become, the work you could accomplish, the realized being you were meant to be? 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.”

Distraction. Resistance. Busyness. Call it what you like. It is what keeps us from being our best selves. From finding true happiness and fulfillment. It is the unfinished business hanging over our heads. It is the dread in the pits of our stomachs. Until we learn to confront that Resistance and overcome it, day after day, personal fulfillment will continue to elude us.

~~PEACE~~