Updated: Nov 15
Why can't I finish writing my book I started 4 years ago? Why won't clients follow their callings, especially when they're miserable in their current circumstances? Why do we ignore the whispers of our dreams until it's too late?
Last week I was talking to a friend about her passion, which is writing and blogging. She'd gone from a driven entrepreneur mom with 4 thriving businesses to burnout before she even knew what hit her. She'd closed down two of her businesses and taken a year to recover and contemplate what what she wanted going forward. The answer was to be a writer. Simple enough, right? Start writing and become a writer. But she kept having internal battles with two little gremlins called Fear and Resistance.
As my friend explained, she had this underlying fear she'd end up burned out all over again. She felt gun-shy of getting back out there and killing it. So she didn't kill it. She kept putting off writing and busying herself with all manner of other important projects.
When our dreams whisper our names, we have a choice. If we ignore them, they get a little louder, more persistent. If we still don't answer, they might scream at us, use a big distraction to get our attention, or they may simply give up and leave.
Why do so many of us ignore or give up on our dreams? Why do we keep our noses to the grindstone and keep on keeping on, neglecting the dreams seeds in our hearts? Fear and resistance render the seeds useless and dormant. We have all sorts of reasons for letting fear and resistance dictate what we do and don't do. Too little time, too much stress, too old, not enough money, and on and on.
This is called a battle of the mind. The heart wants to pursue something but the mind uses coercion and false reasoning to keep you stuck. Remember, change is dangerous. Or so the mind says.
My clients often come to me with this inner conflict. They use sentences like, "One part of me wants....But another part of me...." One part argues it's irresponsible to spend time and money following your dreams. This part also uses fear to argue it's much safer to play small and keep everything the same. The other part uses intuition, curiosity, creativity, and passion to urge clients to try something new, to take a chance, and listen to their heart.
Sadly, the fear-based part is often the winner. Not taking chances means zero risks, which means you won't fail or get burned out again. At least that's how the brain rationalizes it.
Robert Frost's poem, The Road Not Taken describes two paths and a choice about which to take. The narrator ends up choosing the one less traveled. At the end of the poem he muses that when he's an old man he'll be glad ho took the road less traveled because it "made all the difference."
If the road less traveled is the path of no regrets, why don't we take it?
To explain why, let's use a metaphor. Pretend these desires and dreams in your heart are like seeds. Every person has dream seeds, and each of us has a different combination. It's up to each of us to plant, water, and care for the seeds, taking care to remove the weeds, provide protection from the elements, and watch them grow.
If you spend your days worrying deer will eat the plant, or fret about the seeds becoming squash instead of gorgeous red peonies, or if you never plant them because you're scared a drought might come, then you'll never know. The seeds are useless.
Wayne Gretzky says you'll miss 100% of the shots you don't take. I say You'll miss out on 100% of the dreams you ignore.
How sad would it be to spend your life not knowing how those seeds might change your life or change the lives of others? I believe it's our moral obligation to plant and grow our seeds.
Dreams of the heart aren't there by accident or happenstance. No two people have the same fingerprint or the same DNA. We're all unique beings, therefore, we each have a unique combination of seeds or desires within us.
After a few sessions, most clients agree they'd like to plant and fertilize those seeds. But then something happens. They're excited, motivated, and committed. They make plans, get the soil ready, buy gardening tools, and then static. They stop. They get started, little green shoots sprout up, and they stop tending their plants.
One word: Resistance
Author Steven Pressfield talks about in his book the War of Art: Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential. It's a repelling force. It's negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distance us, prevent us from doing our work.
He goes onto say: Resistance is not a peripheral opponent, it comes from within. It is self-generated and self-perpetuated. Resistance is the enemy within.
Pause right now. Name something you'd like to try or pursue but haven't. Something that's been whispering to you for a long time. This is how you find your True North, your soul's desire. This is how you come into alignment with your calling, your purpose.
Steven says the more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more Resistance we will feel towards pursuing it.
So what is it you most want to pursue but aren't?
Resistance is the force stopping this growth. It makes sense, then, to find a way to stop Resistance.
11 Hacks to Overcome Resistance So You Can Follow Your Calling:
Speak pr write out your dreams, interests, and longings. Give yourself permission to dream. Writing it down on paper has an almost magical effect, practically guaranteeing it'll come true.
Next, write out what your version of Resistance looks like: Why you can't do it, why you shouldn't do it, why you might fail, and who's keeping you from moving forward. Then, next to each reason, write out why each one is BS. If it makes you feel better, write out the worst case scenario of each dream, then write what you'd do if that happened. For example, if I tried podcasting and all my friends made fun of me and I got zero downloads, I would delete the podcast and focus on writing instead.
Think of your calling as your act of service to the world. When you write for other people, when you perform for others, when you create beauty for others, you're serving. In fact, anything you do that brings more light and joy into the world is service. By looking at your calling or dream as an act of service, it removes ego. Serving others will also provide long-term fuel and motivation, whereas doing something for personal accolades has less staying power when the going gets tough.
Don't question why you feel compelled to follow a certain dream. It matters because it matters to you, and that's enough. Remember, this is your dream seed. No one else was given the exact same dream with your skills and talent. Therefore, it's up to you to follow through. If you don't, who will? If you choose not to grow your seed, the world won't be quite the same. That's honestly why I put out this free podcast every week. I get paid nothing to do it, I have no sponsors, I have no ads. I do it because I feel pulled to do it, it matters to me, and it's a service to other women going through burnout.
Think of Resistance as a bully, like an aggressive weed that wants you to give up. It's up to you to keep going, keep figuring out how to keep your plant alive and thriving day after day. If you ignore it for too long, Resistance will take over and kill your dream.
There's a higher power behind your dreams. You didn't put those seeds in your heart. There's God or the Universe or some higher power at play, urging you on. Believing this also removes some of the ego and helps you persevere despite droughts, predators, and opportunistic pests.
Simply start. Start with dipping a toe in the water. This makes Resistance nervous, but won't start a war. Just take one itty bitty step towards whatever it is you're curious about. For me, watching a YouTube video on how to start a podcast felt like a safe toe-dipping exercise. Then, I shopped on Amazon to see what sorts of equipment I'd need. I texted a friend with a podcast to ask her a few questions. Start with the easiest possible step. Do one scary thing each week to bring you closer to your dream.
Once you have a good idea what your seeds might be, announce it. This does three things. First, it makes you accountable because you'll have other eyes on your garden, noticing if it's getting watered or if it's overgrown and choking. Second, announcing your dream sends a clear message to your brain you're 100% serious and battle-ready. Third, the Universe will hear your announcement and send help in the form of mentors, guides, books, connections, and serendipitous events.
You make your own luck. Luck is up to you. You can choose to believe the world is out to get you, steal your ideas, and sabotage your efforts, or you can choose to believe everyone is rooting for you. Whichever you choose, you'll find evidence to support this belief, so why not choose to have good luck? Likewise, believing in your success is a choice. If you believe you'll accomplish whatever it is you choose to pursue, you'll act "as if." For example, you want to win Tour de France. You feel compelled to pursue it, you believe you can do it, and you act as if you'll win it. Your training is insane because you believe you're going to win. You tell your mind over and over you're a champion. Your mind eventually agrees, "You are a champion, you are meant to win the Tour De France." Then you get cancer, not just any cancer, cancer of the balls. Balls that need to sit on a bike seat for hours and hours. Do you say, "I have the shittiest luck" and quit? No, you say, "Alrighty then. I'm a freakin' champion. Champions don't quit. I am meant to win the Tour De France." And so it is. You make your luck, you don't give up, you decide to be a champion, no matter what.
Recognize excuses for what they are, even if they're the truth. Sometimes Resistance uses the truth to hold us back. Yes, you've been burned out in the past, or yes, you do have a busy life. Yes, it would be super stressful to embark on and no, your bank account doesn't show that you have the money to go back to school. But, this is all a ploy. Remember, this is Resistance. and its job is to keep you from going after your dream. It exaggerates the truth and convinces you there's no solution when you encounter problems. It's manipulative, but two can play at this game. Use "yes, and" statements when you encounter this. Yes, Tolstoy had 13 kids and 5 died in early childhood. And, he still wrote the greatest works of our time.
Peek ahead to the future. Imagine you don't take the road less traveled. You keep your head down and never go after your dreams. How would you feel a year from now? What about on your deathbed?
Try this exercise by Gay Hendrix, author of The Genius Zone. He says to come up with practical, measurable signs you're living up to your potential and beating resistance. He advises readers to pick markers they'd like to meet a year from now and another set of markers they'll meet by the time you're on your deathbed.
I tried it and highly recommend it!
Clear signs by 9/29/24 I'm not letting resistance win:
I'm writing daily for my book
I have an editor to keep me on track and guide me
I have offer amazing group coaching with a waiting list
I've spoken in front of an audience of 500
On my deathbed:
I've put my words out into the world with books, podcasts and speeches to help others pursue their callings.
I've had an amazing marriage to my best friend where we laugh together, hold hands, cheer each other on, and share our struggles and help carry each other's burdens by continuing our weekly dates, weekly business meetings, and daily check-ins.
If you still have Resistance issues, you're not alone. If you want help growing your dream seeds or figuring out what they are, reach out. I'd love to help you grow a beautiful garden of dreams.