War of Art: A Guide to defeating Procrastination by Steven Pressfield

“Most of us live two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.”

We all know the dangers of procrastination all too well. A 5 minute break turns into a day of binge-watching Netflix and before you know it, tomorrow is deadline day and you have the majority of your assignment to finish.

The War of Art is an exceptionally written book which gives a deserved shove to all of us who procrastinate towards becoming more productive and effective at completing tasks. The book focuses on ensuring that you identify your inner “Resistance” and making sure that it has no influence on you when it comes down to doing your work.

Pressfield describes Resistance as the voice that holds you back when you’re trying to work or better yourself.

Trying to start a diet? Resistance will tell you to leave it to next month.

Trying to finish that essay? Resistance will tell you that the deadline isn’t until next week.

Wanting to hit the gym after work? Why not leave it for today, after all you’ve had a hard day at work right…?

Pressfield presents us with several points to recognise and defeat this toxic influence within us which stops us from achieving our potential.

1. Resistance does not discriminate. You are not alone.

This book emphasises again and again the fact that Resistance affects each and every one of us. This universal hindrance is embodied by feelings of self-doubt, fear of failure and of course, procrastination.

Even the most experienced performers go through stage-fright and even the most accomplished authors want to leave writing their novel for the next day. By accepting that Resistance is an inevitable occurrence, you can begin to notice when it creeps up and take the necessary steps to thwart it.

The existence of Resistance doesn’t change from person to person. It’s within all of us. The important thing is whether we let it control our actions or not.

2. Commit to your Craft and be Consistent!

Pressfield gives some much needed tough love to people who treat their work as a part time hobby. If your dream is really something you want with all your heart, stop treating it like a weekend activity.

When you begin to think of your craft as your full-time job, you can truly start applying your skills and creativity to have the best chance of making the dream come true.

Will Resistance ever go away? No but you do the work anyway. There’s no magic solution to defeating the ghastly voice in your head which tells you to sleep in till noon. You listen to that voice, and then dismiss it so you can do what you need to do.

The importance of consistency is mentioned again and again by Pressfield in this book and is something I can personally resonate with. This quote sums it up perfectly:

I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp – W. Somerset Maugham

Whether you feel inspired or not. Show up to do your work and trust that the inspiration will come.

3. Find your Territory

Are you a naturally talented sportsperson, writer or painter? Are you on this Earth to be a scientist, or perhaps an architect? The truth is, you will never know if you don’t take action.

By giving in to resistance, you not only starve yourself of achieving your potential but you also deprive humanity of benefiting from your contribution. It’s not a selfish act to fully commit to being an artist or any other craft. That is your contribution to the world, so don’t let Resistance take that away from yourself and everyone else.

We all have various professions and crafts which interest us. Here’s some factors you can use to find the right territory for you.

  • Do you feel better every time you’re there? Do you leave your writing space or the lab feeling a buzz? Wherever you find your territory to be, you will feel both challenged and fulfilled by it.
  • Are you prepared to become proficient in your craft? Make the territory your own with consistent, hard work. Recognise the Resistance within you and do the work regardless.
  • You get back what you put in. The more you work, the more it will benefit you and others.

 

If you’ve chosen the way your life has gone so far and you’re unsatisfied, choose to change it NOW, not tomorrow. You are ultimately in control of your destiny, and starting to write that business plan right now, or the introduction to your novel or a weekly exercise routine will get you going in the right direction.

In the end, regardless of your goals, Pressfield puts across strongly in his book that if you truly want to achieve your potential, find your territory and push past Resistance to become the best version of yourself. Although giving in to Resistance will lead to short-term reward like a sugar rush after a cheat meal, or an extra hours sleep. It will stop you from living the happiest, inspiring and creative life that you deserve.

Pressfield’s way of describing the inner forces which stop you from working are easy to understand yet incredibly useful. I’d recommend this book for anyone struggling to stop procrastination and set on a new venture in their life.

If you’ve read the book or have any questions/thoughts about it, feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to discuss it with you.

 

 

4 thoughts on “War of Art: A Guide to defeating Procrastination by Steven Pressfield

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    1. Glad you found it interesting! That’s a good question and one which I also wondered having read the book. I don’t think Pressfield addresses the reason behind why Resistance pops up in the first place in any great detail.

      My view on it is that we have a subconscious belief system (often based on fear) which hinders our efforts. It may even be because we subconsciously think that we don’t actually deserve our “dream life”. I certainly don’t think that we consciously put up that resistance because ultimately we know what is best for us.

      This video goes into these ideas in quite a lot of detail about this concept and it helped me a lot in combination with The War of Art so you may find it interesting as well.

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      1. Not sure how one presumes to write a How-To without addressing the root issues. I agree with you. Any positive changes we make can entail difficult new responsibilities (like if someone heals from a chronic illness, he would have to face the prospect of embracing new work responsibilities or a job he hadn’t liked).

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  1. I see your point. I found the book itself very useful just in terms of identifying the Resistance and therefore being able to fight it better. I believe these are the primary aspects of reducing procrastination. Although understanding the root cause behind it would help too of course.

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