Do the Work

date Jul 10, 2021
authors Steven Pressfield
reading time 5 mins

Resistance standing in between doing the work

Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you.

If you feel something immensely important, the more you will resist to get started

Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.

First small steps

Don’t think. Act. We can always revise and revisit once we’ve acted. But we can accomplish nothing until we act.

Start before you are ready!

Start Before You’re Ready Don’t prepare. Begin. Remember, our enemy is not lack of preparation; it’s not the difficulty of the project or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account. The enemy is Resistance.

Researching about working is misleading and it is not work!

Research can become Resistance. We want to work, not prepare to work.

THe work room is tidy

The hospital room may be spotless and sterile, but birth itself will always take place amid chaos, pain, and blood.

Create the draft as fast as possible

Don’t overprepare. Don’t let research become Resistance. Don’t spend six months compiling a thousand-page tome detailing the emotional matrix and family history of every character in your book. Outline it fast. Now. On instinct.

Outline the end first

End first, then beginning and middle. That’s your startup, that’s your plan for competing in a triathlon, that’s your ballet.

Resistance will keep coming back

We can never eliminate Resistance. It will never go away. But we can outsmart it, and we can enlist allies that are as powerful as it is.

Drafts are quick and dirty

Cover the Canvas One rule for first full working drafts: get them done ASAP. Don’t worry about quality. Act, don’t reflect. Momentum is everything.

Work-in-progress creates momentum

The opposite of Resistance is Assistance. A work-in-progress generates its own energy field. You, the artist or entrepreneur, are pouring love into the work; you are suffusing it with passion and intention and hope. This is serious juju. The universe responds to this. It has no choice.

Resistance comes from the internal voice

Resistance is not a peripheral opponent. It does not arise from rivals, bosses, spouses, children, terrorists, lobbyists, or political adversaries. It comes from us.

No judgements towards our resistance

The enemy is in you, but it is not you. No moral judgment attaches to the possession of it. You “have” Resistance the same way you “have” a heartbeat.

Questions to ask

  • Test Number One “How bad do you want it?”
  • Test Number Two “Why do you want it?”

You must check at the door:

  • Your ego
  • Your sense of entitlement
  • Your impatience
  • Your fear
  • Your hope
  • Your anger

You must also leave behind:

  • All grievances related to aspects of yourself dependent on the accident of birth,
  • Sense of personal exceptionalness dependent on the accident of birth,

What you need to do the work

The only items you get to keep are love for the work, will to finish, and passion to serve the ethical, creative Muse.

Doing work for your own sake in an unstructured environment is harder

There’s a difference between Navy SEAL training and what you and I are facing now. Our ordeal is harder. Because we’re alone. We’ve got no trainers over us, shouting in our ears or kicking our butts to keep us going. We’ve got no friends, no fellow sufferers, no externally imposed structure. No one’s feeding us, housing us, or clothing us. We have no objective milestones or points of validation.

There is no accolade for finishing our work

When we finish, if we do, no one will be waiting to congratulate us. We’ll get no champagne, no beach party, no diploma, no insignia.

Creative panic is a fear

Creative panic is good. Here’s why: Our greatest fear is fear of success.

Shipping == Finishing

Why does Seth Godin place so much emphasis on “shipping”? Because finishing is the critical part of any project. If we can’t finish, all our work is for nothing.

People rather read about heaven than go to heaven

Have you seen this great New Yorker cartoon: A perplexed person stands before two doors. One door says HEAVEN. The other says BOOKS ABOUT HEAVEN… When we’re offered a chance at heaven, what diabolically craven force makes us want to back off—just for now, we promise ourselves—and choose instead heaven’s pale reflection?

Why are we afraid of completing our work?

When we ship, we’re exposed. That’s why we’re so afraid of it. When we ship, we’ll be judged. The real world will pronounce upon our work and upon us. When we ship, we can fail. When we ship, we can be humiliated.

If we beat resistance

And yeah, he’ll still fight just as hard and use just as many nasty tricks as he ever did. But you will have beaten him once, and you’ll know you can beat him again. That’s a game-changer. That will transform your life.

What happens when we finish?

You can be proud of yourself. You’ve done something that millions talk about but only a handful actually perform. And if you can do it once, you can do it again.

And get back to work again

Take the rest of the day off. Take your wife or husband out to dinner. Pop some champagne. Give yourself a standing ovation. Then get back to work. Begin the next one tomorrow. Stay stupid. Trust the soup. Start before you’re ready.