What is going on in your life right now? At work, an upcoming promotion, meeting, or interview that you know could make or break your future at your company? At home, is there something you need to tell your partner but just keep to yourself in order to maintain make-believe-perfect household? Does your friend need your help, but you don’t feel you can talk seriously with them? Do you have to lose weight? Stop eating junk food? Are you drinking too much? Smoking? Are you still living at your parent’s?
Problems are different at different times in our lives. We humans tend to build our whole purpose around solving problems, we always feel we need to be in the process of solving at least one of them.
The issue is that we tend to focus on the easy problems. Need to study for an exam? Let’s clean the whole house.
Sometimes this is called procrastination. But sometimes this is just neglecting that a problem even exists.
The neglected problems
I’m an introvert (not uncommon among writers), and although I sometimes thrive in social situations, I can’t say I’ve been able to enjoy them 100%. That is because every social interaction for me is an effort. I can’t seem to let myself relax into them, and after a day of mingling I’m exhausted as I’ve taken all my energy into impressing other people and projecting a desired image of myself.
I also have a sick relative that I know I should visit more. Yet I keep making up excuses not to go. Probably because visiting would force me to talk about unsolved issues between us.
Somewhere down deep, I understand these are situations I should work more on right away. Yet I keep forgetting about them. Saving them for later. Telling myself they’re not a problem. Instead I start on my next blog post. I create a new workout routine. I read a book.
I make progress, but not where it’s really needed. Progress is good, always. But the progress I’m making would be even greater if I would deal with the most important problems first.
How do we identify these problems so that we can work on them?
It’s not hard, really. Just start thinking about different things you feel you should get done. Things about yourself you might need to work on. Things you need to tell someone close to you. Create a list, if that’s your thing. Soon enough, you will come upon a problem that will hurt a little bit extra. You’ll know when this happens. Your whole body will try to make you skip over it. It will hurt. You will cringe.
THAT is the problem you should focus on RIGHT NOW.
In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield calls this concept The Resistance, which is what’s keeping us from creative ingenuity.
Seth Godin elaborates on this classic concept in his (now also a classic) Linchpin. He argues that The Resistance not only exists in your creative endeavor. The Resistance is everywhere, keeping you from wanting to do your presentation at work, from telling your mom you love her. Going against The Resistance is art, Godin means, in every situation.
The Resistance will keep trying to make you forget about the problems that really matter. The Resistance will make up excuses to why they don’t matter. If you go against The Resistance, you will identify the problems that truly need to be solved. And you will work on them, even though it will hurt.
Physical laws should be taken seriously, and the concept of the path of least resistance could be used strategically outside of physics as well.
But when we’re talking about what you’re currently facing, there is always something in the background, that’s most pressing, that needs to be identified and dealt with. That is the path of most resistance, and when you find it and walk down it, you will flourish.
This article was originally posted on www.stillstupid.blog
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