When Resistance Has Kicked Your Butt for Years

Post written by Leo Babauta.

If you have a history of years of resistance and procrastination, trying to shrug off that immense burden of guilt, bad habits and negative mindset can be overwhelming.

If resistance has given you a beating for years, how do you find the motivation and energy to get back up and fight back?

I won’t claim that it’s easy. But I will offer a simple strategy, and ask only that you try it and see what happens.

1. Start really small. Seriously, you don’t have to beat resistance all in one go. Just chip away at it. So if you don’t think you can stick to a task for 10 minutes, try 5 minutes. If that seems too hard, just do 1 minute. You can do one minute of anything.

2. Only try it once or twice today. You don’t have to do it for a month, or even a week. Just today. You can worry about tomorrow when that day comes. Right now, just focus on today. And make today super easy — just 5 minutes, or even 1 minute, once. If you feel confident, do it again after a break.

3. Pick an easy task. Something you feel a little resistance on, not a lot. Not a task that’s so fun you can’t wait to do it, but something that’s causing you to resist a little bit.

4. Commit to someone else. A friend or coworker or significant other. Just tell them, “I am challenging myself to focus for 1 minute today. It might seem too easy, but my plan is just to start.”

5. Just focus on starting. When I started running, my motto was, “Just get your shoes laced up and get out the door.” The rest, if I actually ran (and I always did) was gravy. But to succeed, I just had to get out the door. That’s all you have to do here — start. It doesn’t matter how long you go, just get started. If you quit after a minute, that’s OK. You succeeded.

6. Repeat. Have a focus session at least once a day, at a time when you have some quiet and can clear away distractions for at least a minute or two. Practice starting. You don’t have to beat all your bad habits right now — you just want to get better at starting.

7. Stretch your focus sessions. If you get pretty decent at starting, try going a little longer each time. Let yourself have the urge to quit or switch tasks, but don’t. Go back to work, then feel the urge a second time, but don’t act on the urge. Go back to work, and when you feel the urge a third time, allow yourself to switch. That’s a good balance between practicing the discipline of staying with the task, and being too strict on yourself.

With practice, you’ll get better. Start small and easy, and it won’t be so overwhelming, and by doing it a little at a time, you’ll soon be well on your way to finally kicking resistance in the rear end.