In the best-selling book I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, Barbara Sher says that if you don’t know what you want, resistance is blocking your desire. And that resistance is worth listening to, because it’s only way you can break free from it.
If you don’t know what you want, resistance is blocking your desire.
Following are 5 forms of resistance I see most often in my clients. Which of these sounds like you?
You want a sure thing.
I feel scared! I’d have to quit my job to get what I really want and I can’t do that—I’d starve.
You want adventure, but you’re clinging to safety.
You might take a shitton of eCourses and read books, but never put your learning to use. You complain about there not being enough time, but let’s be real: you waste legit time scrolling through Insta.
Pointedly, Sher writes, “To assume that [adventure] is radical and requires the sacrifice of our entire lifestyle is to create a fiction that actually helps us stand still.”
What to do?
Practice taking tiny steps towards what you desire—steps in an adventurous direction.
For nudges and know-how to help you take consistent action, sign up for my weekly Play Dates.
You want too many things.
I feel rushed! I have too many ideas/passions/interests. I can’t pick just one!
If this sounds like you, you might be a scanner—someone who genuinely prefers to do many things. But do you realize this is a talent?
This is me. No subject holds my attention long enough for me to study it in depth. But this isn’t bad! It’s just as valuable as being a diver (someone who likes being really, really good at one thing.)
We get in trouble when we hurry. When we worry too much that time is going to run out before we do all of the things, we fail to do any of the things.
What you can do
If you’re a scanner, accept this! You can design a life to fit your many gifts. Just keep taking one step at a time, and enjoy it. You have all the time you could possibly need, and it doesn’t matter—you have this moment.
You can’t walk away.
I feel trapped! How can I walk away from this success?
Dude, yes! The golden handcuffs. Money, status, and work you’re just not that into. When the whole world is praising you for your work—which, as a woman in tech for example, is gonna happen?it can be really hard to hear your inner voice who’s saying, Yeah, but… I don’t want this.
When you’re hung up on the success of your current, unfulfilling gig, check out Sher’s winner/loser definition:
“A winner is anyone who is doing what he or she loves. Whatever that may be! And a loser is someone who is losing time doing something they don’t like.”
What you can do
Don’t hide your true feelings from yourself. Check in with yourself regularly and do whatever you need to express them—journal, run, meditate, bake furiously…
Save your money. You do not need half the shit you own. Stop trying to make yourself feel better by spending. I get it! I headed to TJ Maxx after my brother died. “Retail therapy” is a term for a reason. And you can choose a different path. Instead, spend some time every day visualizing the freedom you?re creating by saving the money those white men* are paying you.
You want what you shouldn’t want.
I feel ashamed. I want something I shouldn’t want.
Going against the values of your family, your culture, your tribe, is not easy. It just isn’t.
I remember being taught that art is kind of a waste of time. I can’t remember anyone directly saying this to me, but I went to college pretty damn sure that my family wanted me to study a science that would lead to a big, steady paycheck. I was a math whiz, I had a 4.0 GPA—obviously this is what I was supposed to do!
The thing is, I really loved creative writing. I can’t even tell you. I wrote poems in elementary school that I kept in an affectionately worn marigold folder hidden in the drawer of my desk. In high school, I submitted poetry about the pot I smoked in a friend’s shed. I earned As for mildly-risque short stories in college.
And then I stopped writing. For like, a decade.
What you can do
Find others like you.
When I wanted to write more, I found a local writer’s group. They get my joy of leveling up a sentence by removing a single word! Suddenly, spending my free time writing wasn’t weird at all—it was normal and cool.
You’re trying, but your heart’s not in it.
I feel disconnected. I’m trying to do the thing, but something is off—I don’t think my heart’s in it.
If this sounds like you, I have to ask: What’s this really about?
This is a sign that your desperate search for the right career is a red herring. It’s distracting you from the real problem. There’s something else you want.
What you can do
Widen your scope. Even more than with the other forms of resistance I’ve described, this is the time for eagle vision. Look at all the other aspects of your life: personal growth, health (mind & body), community contribution, relationships (family & friends), fun & adventure, romance.
Ask yourself, What do I really want?
This is worth the discomfort!
This stuff can be uncomfortable, and it’s worth it. Remember, It’s only by hearing your resistance that you can break free from it.
Did you see yourself somewhere in this article? Not surprising! Sher says, “Recent figures show that as many as 98% of Americans are unhappy in their jobs.”
The great news is, you can get past this. I can help.
I’ve opened up my calendar for a few no-cost Focus Sessions. Together, we’ll look at your vision, what’s getting in your way, and where you can focus to achieve your goals as quickly as possible.
* I’m kind of kidding, but also, I’ve never worked for a company without a white man in the top seat. Just sayin.