Dealing with Resistance: Going from Amateur to Pro

March 06, 2019


“The enemy is a very good teacher” 
Dalai Lama

Today I’m going to tell you about a friend of mine called Resistance. When it comes to resistance and me, we go waaayyyy back. She’s been there throughout every attempt of creative living, softly whispering in my ear “you’re not good enough.” She’s been there rooting me on to procrastinate when pursuing creative work by being the voice of reasoning to justify scrolling through Instagram instead of bringing my growing list of projects to life. And today she’s with me as I’m paving a new path for myself in entrepreneurial pursuits, drowning me in doubt and limiting self-beliefs.

Resistance is the enemy within.

I first became familiar with the term resistance after reading the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. According to the author, resistance is the most toxic force in the universe. He explains that resistance is self-generated and self-perpetuated meaning it comes from within us and is fueled by our fear. The degree of fear we feel equates to the strength of resistance within us. The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more resistance we will feel towards it.

Resistance by definition is self-sabotage.

The most common manifestation of resistance is procrastination because it is the easiest to rationalize. Some activities that most commonly elicit resistance include:
  • The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance or any creative art however marginal or unconventional.
  • The launching of any entrepreneurial venture for profit or otherwise
  • Any diet or health regiment
  • Any program of spiritual advancement
In order words, any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long term growth, health, or integrity will elicit resistance. 

Currently, I'm at war with resistance on a daily and unfortunately, it's kicking my ass! At times, it’s easier to worry about my abilities not being “up to par” than it is to sit down and get work done. Since I am a chronic procrastinator, resistance (aka my fear) keeps me in my bubble of comfort even though I aspire to make moves and pursue creative endeavors. Over the past week, I’ve had to face reality that opening an online store in a few weeks is not plausible given the amount of work that still needs to be done. Though this is a setback and a slight blow to my ego, the goal of creating my own business is still my main objective for the year.

Going from Amateur to Pro

“The essence of professionalism is the focus upon the work and its demands, while we are doing it, to the exclusion of all else.”
Steven Pressfield

The best way to beat resistance in its tracks is to elevate your mindset from being an amateur to being a professional. Turning pro starts by thinking of yourself as a professional and is brought about by the act of will. When we decide to view ourselves as a professional we just do it. If you look at the work habits of a professional, there’s a level of commitment and dedication that occurs within them that an amateur simply does not have. In The War of Art, Pressfield outlines the characteristics of a professional as such:
  1. They show up every day
  2. Shows up no matter what
  3. Stays on the job all day
  4. Is committed over the long haul
  5. The stakes are high and real. It’s about survival
  6. They accept remuneration (money) for their labor
  7. They do not over-identify with their jobs
  8. They master the techniques of their jobs
  9. They have a sense of humor about their jobs
  10. They receive praise and blame in the real world
Unlike the professional, an amateur is a “weekend warrior” and does not show up every day. They do not show up no matter what and do not stay on the job all day. They are not committed over the long haul nor have real stakes up against them for not pursuing their goal. The amateur views their work as an avocation whereas to the pro it's their vocation. 

Looking back, I’ve had a time in my life where I embodied qualities of a professional rather than the amateur. It was in 2017 when I committed myself to hand lettering every single day for the entire year. I was fiercely dedicated to my craft and made sure not a day went by without putting pencil to paper. Prior to that, I’d never fully committed myself to anything on that scale with unwavering dedication. 

The experience was much more rewarding beyond learning how to draw straight lines. I gained confidence in my ability to learn over time and saw first-hand how showing up for yourself DAILY leads to slow and steady growth. Unfortunately, the progress I made was overshadowed by the misery I felt from being on Instagram every day to share my work. The constant comparisons and feelings of inadequacy were the hardest pills to swallow. I felt like my work didn’t measure up because I didn’t have the following to back me up with external validation. 

Lack of followers = Lack of talent.

For me, the only way to go from amateur to pro is by first accepting that I am a professional (damn right!) and rededicating myself to daily practice. Most of my resistance is founded on a lack of action and not following through with my ideas and decisions. By retracing my steps and doing what I already know works, I feel like this will ease the stress and constant back and forth I experience with simple decision making. Because I have decided that I'm in this for the long-haul, it's best to simply relax and have fun while mastering my craft. I'm also taking a break from Instagram for the rest of the year to solely focus on the blog and other methods of online marketing that will garner the types of relationships and connections I'm seeking to find. Plus from experience, Instagram is not the healthiest platform for my mental health and personal growth. 

With this newfound knowledge and understanding on resistance and it's many forms, I am embracing the role of the professional and putting my best foot forward. I'm making space for my work to unfold and looking forward to investing in myself once again. As always I will keep you updated with new projects as they come to life each week.

Have you've read The War of Art? If so, what are your thoughts on the book and what lessons did you take with you? Comment below to tell me more!

Till next week fellow curious creative .

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