One of my clients is in the middle of the biggest marketing push she’s ever done. She came up with four new product lines and three new services to promote. She’s up at the wee hours of the morning, working and planning, seven days a week. She’s hired extra help to make her products and write blog posts, emails, and social media posts.
She’s made a big push to capitalize on Black Friday and the holidays. She’s been expecting big returns. As of today, December 13th, she hasn’t seen the sales she’d hoped to see. This has led to doubt, disappointment, frustration, fear.
Of course, it does. Anyone who has tried to do something new, something creative and original, has met this monster. Steven Pressfield calls it “Resistance” in his book The War of Art. It’s most aggressive in the middle of a project and as you near the finish line. It’s the voice that says, “I can’t do this;” “I don’t want to do this;” “I made a bad decision;” “What was I thinking?”
Whether you're working on a new marketing scheme, a kitchen remodel, or a novel, Resistance seems to get stronger the further along you go. It shows up in the guise of low sales, broken tiles, burst pipes, personality conflicts, apathy, disappointment, fear, illness, lack of ideas, indecision, overwhelm, frustration. It wears a million masks and is a shapeshifter.
It is the giant emerald hologram that says “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Pay attention to me!” But just like that hologram, it doesn’t have any real power. Only the power you choose to give it. When the curtain is pulled back to reveal a bumbling trickster, it’s also revealed that you had what you needed all along.
The truth is that my client has done an amazing job. She has shown up and worked hard every day. Despite her disappointment and frustration, she hasn’t given up on her plan. She’s created the product lines, as well as the blogs, social media posts, and emails that she set out to.
Her holiday marketing experiment will be over in January. Until then, she’s keeping her head down and doing her work.
If you find yourself in the middle of a project beset by terrible odds, be like my client. Keep doing your work. Craft the best novel or marketing materials you can, get the help you need, finish the project. And when it’s done, be proud of yourself for doing what very few people do—follow through. Then you can assess what worked and what didn’t.
Incidentally, in a recent phone call, my client lamented that she was only getting sales when she sent out emails. But that means the emails are working! Even if they’re not quite working to the scale she was hoping. Those are sales that she might not have had if she hadn’t sent the emails.
Many times, when we stop to lament about how we aren’t reaching our goals, we miss the fact that something we're doing is actually working.
If you want to bolster your productivity, and fortify your defenses against resistance, try acknowledging what is instead of lamenting what isn’t. It will keep you grateful. And, gratitude keeps you open to inspiration.
In the meantime, keep putting one foot in front of the other. You will get there.