There are going to be points in your work where you’re stuck, where you’re not moving forward, and where sitting down to do the work becomes difficult.
Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art calls this “resistance.”
“Resistance cannot be seen, touched, heard, or smelled. But it can be felt. We experience it as an energy field radiating from a work-in-potential. It’s a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away, distract us, prevent us from doing our work.”
In his big list of places resistance is most likely to show up, Pressfield includes diets, spiritual advancement, anything to do with abdominal tightening, and these two situations which will apply to your course building work:
- The launching of any entrepreneurial venture or enterprise, for profit or otherwise
- The pursuit of any calling in writing
I tell you this because I want you to know that feeling resistance is a universal experience. If you’re encountering resistance it’s not because you’re a failure. It’s because you’re doing something special–something in which resistance usually shows up.
So how do you proceed in this situation?
You start and you keep going.
But how do you really proceed? What does it mean to “start and keep going?”
Here are four steps for fighting resistance when it comes to building and running an online teaching business so that you know how to start and keeping going.
1. Fight resistance with 90-day goals.
When you work with a 90-day plan, you’re working within a timeframe short enough for you to have a good idea of what you can actually get done. Plus you’ve got a timeframe long enough for making real progress toward a big goal.
The 90-day timeframe gives you the ability to tweak and pivot as needed. Especially in the early days of course building, you’ll often need to take action IN ORDER TO FIND OUT if something works and how it works. The answers aren’t pre-known.
If you’re working with longer-term goals (6 months or even a year) there’s a good chance your goal will change, and that can leave you feeling like you’ve failed. Instead: plan 90 days out!
2. Fight resistance by setting weekly intentions that serve your 90-day goal and getting them onto the calendar.
On Sunday night (or end-of-day Friday) decide what key work you will (and can) accomplish in the next week. Setting the work for each week as the week starts (rather than back at the start of each 90-day run) lets you take immediate upcoming demands into consideration as well as recent progress (or recent obstacles that might have slowed you down).
Whether you’re working full-time on your teaching business or fitting this work in around other work and responsibilities, do take the step of putting your online-teaching work hours on the calendar for the upcoming week. And then take one more step by committing to show up for those hours.
3. Fight resistance by setting daily intentions to accomplish 1 to 3 things.
When you start a work day, decide which needle-moving work you will get done today. I’m not talking about the small tasks you take care of regularly like answering email, supporting students, upgrading software, posting to social media.
Rather: which essential tasks will you work on today? It might be developing the nurture content topics for the next month or actually writing/scripting that content. It might be recording videos or podcast. It might be creating paid course content or creating a piece of your sales funnel.
Choose just 1 to 3 major things to get done on any day, and focus on truly getting that thing done.
The alternative to this is letting the day run you, picking away at tasks that seem most urgent or most appealing but that don’t truly serve your goals or help you fight resistance. It’s easier to fight resistance when you know that the work you’re doing moves the needle on your overall goals.
4. Fight resistance by leaving breadcrumbs at the end of one work session so that you know where to start when you begin the next work session.
When you’re finishing work for the day on a task that’s not complete, make sure that when you come back to this work, you’ll know where to start.
For example, I recently created a 10-part bonus for my students. It took a couple of weeks and several work sessions to get it done.
Here's how I used “breadcrumbs:”
- Whenever I ended a session, I made sure that if I was leaving off WITHIN one of those 10 parts, I knew what the next paragraph or section would be covering.
- If I completely finished one of the 10 parts, I made sure I knew what the next part I was covering would be, and I’d even put a few notes for myself for getting started when I returned.
The blank canvas or page can be intimidating, but the canvas that has a few strokes that point the way forward is less likely to create resistance.
Back to resistance and showing up
Here’s a story about writer Somerset Maugham that always inspires and helps me through resistance: When Maugham was asked if he wrote on schedule or just when inspiration struck, he said:
“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
The four steps above are your guardrails for: 1) making it easier to show up each morning, and 2) ensuring that when you do show up, you’re getting work done that will moving your teaching business forward.