Resistance vs Reluctance

Whether you’re leading a client or leading yourself, it’s helpful to be able to spot the difference between resistance and reluctance when faced with inaction.

Resistance is the fear we feel when we create something new. Steven Pressfield gives us this great rule of thumb: “The more important a call of action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.” We don’t act because we’re uncomfortable with the unknown and terrified of what might happen.

Reluctance is the unwillingness to do something. We don’t act because we’re simply not interested. Often, this is due to a lack of clarity or a misalignment between goals, actions, and values. Or, maybe we’ve changed our minds and want something different!

On the surface, they both look like inaction. But they’re caused by different things and thus need different treatment.

Getting clear on which you’re dealing with can help you ask better questions, provide better support, and get moving.

Creative Constraints

More options don’t always lead to better outcomes.

A blank slate at the beginning of a creative project sounds enticing, but often that excitement gives way to overwhelm and indecision. With so many possibilities, how do we move forward?

To get (or keep!) moving, it’s helpful to have constraints. Take options off the table. Give yourself limits, such as the amount of time or money you’ll spend on a project, or rules around how often, when, and where you’ll show up.

Giving your project limits frees you to get creative with what you do have.

Sometimes, narrowing one lens is the best way to open another.

Notes From The Valley

When we’re in the valley (see above—super fun), our downward spiraling thoughts tend to stem from two beliefs:

  1. I shouldn’t feel this way
  2. I’m alone in this

We’re scared and insecure and doubting ourselves…. and we believe we shouldn’t feel that way. Because if we were really an artist, if we were really an entrepreneur, if we were truly good enough or smart enough or talented enough… we believe there’s no way we would feel like this.

Which brings us to that feeling of being alone. Our brains have this lovely way (looking at you, shame) of convincing us we’re alone in this. That no one in the history of creative beings has ever felt this. No one could possibly understand. No one can help us hold this. Or, perhaps most insidious, that we’re not worthy of help.

Wherever you are in the valley and whatever meets you there, know that you’re not alone. It’s all part of the journey—everyone’s journey.

And remember:

Life is at work in these valleys, too.

What Are You Willing to Say No To?

To loosely quote Elizabeth Gilbert…

“It’s not just saying no to things you don’t want so that you can have the stuff you do. It’s saying no to the things you do want, but just don’t want as much.”

This is the hard bit. Sure, perhaps you can do all those projects. But would they all be the quality you want? Would doing it all give you the life you want?

Be clear about what you want from your work. Be honest if what you’re doing right now helps you get there.

Saying no—or no for now—is more than OK.

Get in Motion

Making a decision is hard. Probably because we’re hellbent on making the right decision. Thanks to some delightful evolutionary wiring in our brains, we’re convinced that the more we think about it or the more information we gather, the more likely we’ll be to get it right.

There’s some value in this, of course, but there’s a limit to what you can see from where you’re currently standing. At some point, you have to do more to know more. It’s the new experiences that lead to new data.

Often, it’s helpful to remember the following:

Change isn’t an intellectual exercise, it’s an experiential one.

When in doubt, get in motion.

A Question for Sunk Costs

It doesn’t matter how much time, money, or energy went into building the thing—is it still helping you get to where you want to go?

If yes, keep going.

If no, quit.


I’m facing this with one of my own creative projects right now. It’s been a significant part of my identity for most of the last decade, but it’s feeling like time to let go. Not because I don’t love it, or can’t do it, but because it doesn’t fit into what I want for myself now. We’ve gone as far as we can together. And that’s OK.

Expectations vs Intentions

Expectations are outcome-based. Here’s what I expect to get/have/be at the end of this journey.

Intentions are processed-based. Here’s how I promise to show up along the way.

Too often, expectations focus on things that are out of our control. They have an inherent fragility about them, making it easy to get knocked off course when something doesn’t go to plan.

Intentions, however, keep us anchored yet open. They allow us to stay rooted in what matters yet open to what we meet along the way.

24 Hours of Fresh Attention

“Everyone gets 24 hours of fresh attention, refilled daily.”

Seth Godin shared this in his blog post this morning and it was a welcome reminder. A reminder that each day we have the opportunity—the responsibility—to manage our bandwidth. A reminder that when we mess up (and we will) we have a chance to begin again.

That said, what will you do with this day?

What will you say yes to? And, perhaps more importantly, what are you willing to say no to?

What Next?

When we’re building something new we often get stuck on what to do next. In trying to find the next “right” action we’re paralyzed with inaction.

Here’s the thing. Often, at the beginning stages of a project, it doesn’t actually matter what you do next. Your job is to play and celebrate movement of any kind. One step forward, two steps back. Perhaps a side step or two. It’s all movement, and movement creates momentum.

So, if you’re stuck, focus less on figuring out what your next steps are and more on taking them.

Follow your curiosity. Make your best guess. And move.

Remember: when you don’t know where you’re going, all paths lead there.

Work vs Rest

How do you define work? What about rest? Are these activities, states of being? And how do you know when to move between them?

I’m not sure if you’ve hit the quarantine phase where you’re questioning, well, literally everything, but I sure have. In particular, I’m paying attention to my own personal rhythms and how I measure productivity.

Which is how I got on this work vs rest debate.

Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Work is… output, motion, acting on the known, and in service of others. It has some narrow, focused quality to it. It’s new creation.

Rest is…. input, stillness, surrender to the unknown, and in service of self. It is boundless and how we open ourselves up to what could be. It’s mindful consumption.

Work asks, “What can I do?”

Rest asks, “What can I enjoy?”

Both demand presence, compassion, and acceptance. Presence in this moment, compassion for where you find yourself, and acceptance of what is.

And both are needed, however you define them.

Inhale, exhale.

On, off.

Engage, disengage.

We live on a sine wave. We are not exempt from the rhythms of nature just because we’ve found ways to modify them.