058: 5 Tips for Overcoming the Resistance

Welcome to episode 58 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! In this episode, Bjork goes solo and talks about overcoming “the resistance.”

Last week, Bjork talked with Josh Ledgard about founding KickoffLabs and how it helps business achieve viral growth. To go back and listen that episode, click here.

5 Tips for Overcoming The Resistance

One of the hardest things about doing a creative endeavor is simply doing it. Not getting distracted. Not doing other less important things. Not putting it off endlessly because the idea of actually doing it is scary.

This is called the Resistance. The Resistance is what keeps us from moving forward, from trying new things, and from making progress. And we all have it somewhere inside, and it usually shows up much more often then you would like to imagine. But once you are aware of the resistance and what it looks like, you’ll see it everywhere. In this episode, Bjork gives 5 tips that help you overcome the Resistance when it rears it’s ugly head.

In this episode, Bjork talks about:

  • What the resistance is and how is presents itself
  • How “building your castle” can help you find motivation to create content
  • How rewarding yourself for the Work can help you move forward
  • Why taking the very first small steps can help you start a seemingly huge project
  • Why fixing small things can hinder progress
  • Why being too committed can keep you from being outstanding

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Bjork Ostrom: Welcome to Episode Number 58 of the Food Blogger Pro Podcast.

Hey everybody. This is Bjork Ostrom. I am coming to you today with a solo show. In today’s show, I’m going to be talking about what I think is one of the most important concepts for us. When I say us, I mean creators. You might be in the food space as is true for Lindsay and, obviously, Food Blogger Pro is in the food space as well. Or maybe not. Maybe you have a business or a blog and you just listen to this podcast just because, but I’m guessing that everybody that listens to this in some way, shape, or form is a creator. If you are a creator, you’ve probably experienced something called the Resistance. This is a concept from one of my favorite books that I’ve mentioned a few times on the podcast called The War of Art and it’s by somebody named Steven Pressfield.

In this book, Steven talks a lot about this idea of the Resistance and essentially what it is, well, I’ll do this. I’ll share a quote. I think when I share this quote, you’ll start to understand a little bit about what the Resistance is and maybe start to understand a little bit of how it’s played out in your life. Here’s what he says, Steven Pressfield in The War of Art: “Resistance comes as a voice in our heads. The voice tells us not to work today and it gives us a reason: our daughter’s dance recital starts at 7; this headache is killing me; the boss wants us to organize the Penske file,” which I don’t know what that is. Does that sound familiar? I know that it does for me.

To be honest, as I’m sitting here in my room recording this podcast, I’m fighting that voice a little bit myself. I’m thinking, “Bjork, you’re heading up to the cabin with Lindsay’s family tomorrow. There’s more important things that you should be doing that recording a podcast. You need to pack. You need to get ready.” I’m thinking about the emails in my Inbox. I’m thinking, “God, Bjork, you got to get in. You got to respond to those. I’m thinking about all of the different things that are around me, both figuratively and literally that I could be doing. Sometimes it has to do also with bigger picture stuff. Like, ”Bjork, should you be recording a podcast? Should you be doing something else bigger? Maybe it’s more important for you to send out an email?” So I’ll jump over and send out a broadcast email.

It’s so easy to get distracted and to shift and to look away from the things that we need to do in order to move our mission along, whatever that is, in order to continually create. This was probably a year and a half ago, I actually wrote a post on the Food Blogger Pro blog about this and it’s one of the most popular blog post that we have. It’s called overcoming the Resistance. It talks about 5 ways that I’ve used to overcome the Resistance. Hopefully, that helps you as you think about ways that you need to overcome the Resistance or that you want to overcome the Resistance in your work, in your day-to-day work that you do for your blog, for your business, for whatever your creative endeavor is.

These are the 5 different ways that I like to work through the Resistance and to try and overcome that. Hopefully, this helps you as well. Number 1: Build your castle. What does that mean? Well, the incredible thing about publishing content online, so I’m speaking specifically to people that are doing this creative endeavor online, whether that be a blog or YouTube or social media or whatever. The great thing about publishing content online is that it lives forever, like it doesn’t go away, which is such an incredible thing.

The Food Blogger Pro post called 5 Ways to Make Money from Your Blog, so that was one that I published a while ago, so I just checked in Google Analytics and somebody’s literally reading it at this very moment, or that post that Lindsay posted called Red Lentil Curries, when I checked that post, there is 11,000 people that visited that in the last 30 days. That was published in 2012. Or how about the video that Lindsay and I made when we’re living in the Philippines and we talked about making hummus. It’s been viewed over 20,000 times on YouTube.

This is this incredible world that we live in where we can publish content and it’s like we’re building a castle. As you know, a castle needs bricks and much like a castle needs bricks, a blog needs content or really any type of website that is content-based or any type of platform that is content-based, so YouTube channel or a social media platform, it needs content. In order to build a solid castle, you need lots of sturdy bricks. You can have 3 little bricks and then say, “This is my castle.” The same is true for a blog or a platform. In order to build a blog or a platform, you need lots of really study content.

The wonderful thing about laying a brick for your castle is that once you put it in place, it’ll be there for a really long time. It’s part of the structure. The same with the blog post or any content for our platform. It lives forever as part of that structure. The more quality bricks that you lay, the better your castle will be, the stronger your castle will be. The same is true for a blogger platform. The more quality blog post that you publish, the stronger your blog will be. For us, for this podcast, for instance, the more quality podcast episodes we release, the stronger our little podcast castle will be.

Here’s the point with this and the takeaway. Nobody really cares about a castle on the first day that it’s built. You come and you look and somebody says, “We’re building a castle.” Let’s say there’s 13 bricks to it. You look around and you’re like, “That’s not very impressive.” The same is true for a blog. It’s not very exciting after the first month, even after a year. It might start to get a little bit interesting but it definitely won’t be not worthy. It’s not until you’ve been building your castle for years that people will start to recognize it for what it is, which is a sturdy and awe-inspiring castle.

The bottom line with this takeaway is this. As it ties in to the Resistance and here’s the takeaway: The Resistance will tell you that your castle needs to be big and beautiful and wonderful in the first week or the first month or the first year but you know better than to listen to the Resistance. You don’t focus on what it’s not. You don’t focus on what you’re thing isn’t. You focus on what you’re doing instead, which is laying bricks that will someday, probably not someday soon but someday, be a big and beautiful castle. That’s a really important concept.

Whenever you face the Resistance and you feel that feeling of not wanting to move forward on something because you feel like maybe it’s not just worth it, maybe I’m not experiencing enough growth or traction early on here. Think about is as building your castle instead of trying to create something that’s beautiful and wonderful in the first day, week, or even year. Think about it as building something long-term. That’s number 1.

Number 2: shrink it down to the first step. This is really important especially for people that are kind of those high level entrepreneurial thinkers. It’s really important to shrink things down to that very first step that you can take. Here’s the deal, a lot of work has been put into Food Blogger Pro, so it’s a membership site with, at this point, we have over 2,000 members, we have well over 300 videos; an active and awesome community forum. We have the affiliate program, there’s a blog, there’s a podcast, there’s a ton of different elements to this business that is Food Blogger Pro.

Here’s the thing: When Lindsay and I were first thinking about starting Food Blogger Pro, it was totally overwhelming and we had all of these ideas of what we wanted it to be, but there is so much so that we put it off for over a year, almost a year, and it was just too much to think about, right? We had this grandiose idea of what it could be but it was almost so much that it was too much to think about and so we just didn’t move forward on it, which is classic Resistance.

An example might be, “I really want to write a book,” but it’s a huge task that you don’t really move forward on it, even though you know you really want to do it. It wasn’t until I shrunk the project down, kind of a “Honey, I shrunk the kids” applied to business; “Honey, I shrunk the business,” so I shrunk the project down to the first step. It wasn’t until then that I was able to overcome the Resistance with this idea for this new business and finally started to make progress on it.

In this case, the first step meant going into iTunes and searching membership site and then listening to all of the podcast on membership sites that I could find. I remember that day I was working on some stuff and I just had cubed them up, I created a little playlist and just listened to all of those. That was the first step that I told myself I was going to take. As I was doing that, I heard an interview with two individuals. Their names were Nate and Jon and they had a business called FortySeven Media, which Jon is running now as a solo endeavor.

They’re both incredibly talented people. Nate is focusing in photography and video stuff and Jon has continued to focus in on the web design and development. I heard this interview that they did and they talked about building a membership site and what went into that and how they did that. I checked it out. I loved the site and loved their work and their design and so I decided to send them an email. I asked if I could connect to talk about this idea that we had for Food Blogger Pro.

This is the actual email that I sent. I said, “Nate and Jon, greetings! My name is Bjork Ostrom. I heard about FortySeven Media while listening to a recent podcast interview that you did. I checked out Kicktastic.com,” which was the membership site that they’re working on, “and really loved what you guys have done with it.” Then I said, “I’m a member,” because I had signed up and gone through it and just wanted to check out what they’re doing. I said, “I put together a quick video to formally introduce myself,” and what I did here is … Just as a side note, and I do this a decent amount, we use this program called ScreenFlow, so it’s a Macintosh/Apple program and it allows you to record your screen but also to record yourself.

I just recorded a little intro video of myself and then I put that into DropBox. I shared that link with them. I right click and save, share link and then you’re able to get that link and send the video as opposed to uploading it to YouTube or Vimeo. It’s just really a quick way to share a video. Anyways, side note.

This is back to the email. I put together a quick video to formally introduce myself. I included that link and then I said, “Here’s the URL of my wife ,Lindsay’s blog I referenced,” and I said, “I’d love to chat more.” That’s it. That was my tiny, little first step for moving forward on Food Blogger Pro. Here’s the deal: Food Blogger Pro wouldn’t be what it is today or possibly more accurately, wouldn’t even exist at all today if I hadn’t shrunken down the project into that first step of listening to podcast interviews.

The same can be said for this podcast episode. When I was thinking about recording this podcast episode, there’s a lot of different ideas that I had and I thought, “Oh, what should I focus on? What should be the things that we do? How am I going to go about doing it?” In reality, what it was is sitting down and saying, “I’m going to pull up this older blog post that I have, I’m going to read through it, and then I’m going to press record.” As opposed to thinking about this huge idea of maybe lining up somebody to interview me about it or to really make it a bigger deal than it needed to be, I said, “I’m going to sit down, I’m going to read through,” that was step 1, “and then I’m going to press record and jump into recording this podcast episode.”

I think that can be applied to so many different things that we do, that first step mentality. The great thing about the first step is that you get the feeling of momentum as well. You have this huge idea. If you can break that down into steps, like actionable steps that you can take today, the feeling that you’ll have when you move forward on it is such a good feeling. Bottom line is this: the Project, so capital P, Project, the project, right, really big, is almost always overwhelming. The Resistance uses this to keep us from starting, but the first step isn’t as intimidating. Shrinking down a project to the first step helps you to start, which is one of the hardest things to do with a project. That’s a really important takeaway and a really great way to overcome the Resistance is to shrink it down to the first step.

All right, number 3 tip for overcoming the Resistance. This is one of my favorites. Reward the work. This comes along with a little story. My mom and dad have a system for making sure their dog, Sophie, goes in the kennel every night. What they do is they give her a quarter … Yes, that’s right, a quarter, you heard that right, of a cracker. The funny thing is it works. Sophie loves to go in the kennel because she knows that she’s going to get a little tasty morsel of a saltine.

The other funny thing is I myself am pretty similar to Sophie. I know that every time that I engage in the work, and I’m doing a capital W there, the Work, the important Work, instead of the Resistance, which could be something as simple as checking Facebook or scrolling through Twitter or doing the dishes even though they don’t necessarily need to get done. Every time that I engage in the Work, instead of the Resistance, I reward myself with a quarter of a cracker. Not actually a quarter of a cracker, but that analogy. For me, instead of a quarter of a cracker, what it usually is, is coffee. That’s just what I use to motivate myself to do the work.

Early in the morning it’s caffeinated and then as the day goes on, it’s decaf because I’ve realized that if I drink too much caffeinated coffee then I won’t be doing any work at all. I’ll just be fritzing out, my brain will be. I know that, speaking of my brain, that if I train my brain that the work equals coffee, then my chances of engaging in the work will be higher. I find ways to reward myself for engaging in the work similar to how my parents reward Sophie for going in her kennel. I’ve found that it works. I get those little rewards for engaging in the work and a lot times, to tie this back, the work can be that first step that I take.

Bottom line: find ways to build in small rewards for yourself when you engage in the work instead of giving in to the Resistance. Maybe that means drinking your favorite drink or listening to your favorite music or wear your favorite sweater. It can be really small things. Those small things, even though they’re small, can help to make engaging the work and overcoming the Resistance a little bit easier.

The reality is doing the work is hard and it’s hard to take those first steps and it’s hard to sit down and start writing or editing photographs or developing a recipe or recording a podcast but it doesn’t have to be miserable. The more you enjoy doing the work, the less likely it is that you’ll listen to the Resistance, and one of the great ways to enjoy the work a little bit more is to tie it to some type of reward, even if it’s something that’s a little bit small. As a side note, one of the things that I found is a lot of times, what happens is I can combine those first two, breaking it down in the first step and also rewarding myself for starting, and then once I get into it, I actually enjoy it.

Another example would be recording this podcast. As I thought about it, I was like, “Oh man, is this going to be difficult to me?” Solo podcasts are always a little bit hard, so if you can imagine me sitting in here, I’m just talking by myself, which is a little bit strange. For me, what I really enjoy doing is asking questions as opposed to talking, and so when I do that interview, that’s a sweet spot for me. It feels really good. Every once in a while there’s these things that I want to talk about that I think are really important to bring up, and so I do these solo podcasts. It’s a little bit hard for me to take those steps forward and recording those. What I found is … Long way, coming back around on this now … is that if I break it down to the first step, sitting down, reading through the post, pressing record, and then rewarding myself, I have my coffee here, I’ll ding the mug. You can hear that sitting next to me.

Then once I start in on the work, it’s actually pretty enjoyable but it’s getting started that’s the difficult thing to do and these last 2 are really a big part of that. Breaking it down to the first step and then rewarding the work are great ways to get you into it. Like the first lap of running a mile, like that’s the hardest part, and then once you’re into it, you get into a rhythm, it feels a little bit better, you start and you make progress. That’s number 3: reward the work.

Number 4: embrace brokenness. Man, is this one so important. If I listed out the number of things that are broken in our businesses right now, this would be a 5-hour podcast. It would go on and on and on. I’ve come to realize that things will always, in some way, be broken. If things aren’t broken, if everything is perfectly aligned and everything is in order, then we’re probably not moving quickly enough. The design will never be perfect. The email will never be entirely mobile-friendly and the analytics will never be 100% accurate and our post or content will never be 100% error free. The problem isn’t that things are broken. The problem, this is important, is that we prioritize fixing the small broken thing over creating the big important thing.

To be honest, this is my biggest struggle. I’m a fixer. I love troubleshooting, I love investigating, I love repairing, which keeps me from doing truly important work. Truth be told, there are times when something is broken and important, but usually that isn’t the case. Usually we’re fixing things that don’t really matter or we’re fixing things in order to avoid doing the Work, capital W. The Resistance convinces us that we need to adjust the logo location just a little bit or that we need to change our blog’s font color a little bit or organize our email list and clean that up or we need to fine tune our Google Analytics or organize the towels and the cupboard underneath the sink or take our car to the car wash.

Those are all things that I’m speaking about as experience. Those are not examples I’ve seen with other people. I’ve seen those with other people, but those are all things that I, myself, have experienced. The thing is those aren’t inherently bad. They’re just bad when they’re done in place of doing creative important work, which is usually when we feel the call to do that type of task-y type work.

When we have this big, important project that we need to do, that’s when all of these little things bubble up and we’re like … I really felt like I want to adjust where the logo shows up on my site. We know that in the grand scheme of things that stuff just doesn’t really matter. I’ll say this, especially when it’s just you or you and a small team. There are times when that stuff does matter, but that’s on a very huge corporate level. When it’s just you or it’s just you and a small team, the really important things are moving boulders not adjusting where little pebbles are and that’s the hard thing that we’re going to have to engage in and that’s what it looks like to overcome the Resistance.

Here’s the bottom line with embracing brokenness: It’s important to develop your ability to resist fine-tuning and tinkering with things. There is only so much time in a day and if you spend time fixing little things, you’ll never actually get to creating things. When the time comes and when you can, I would really encourage you to figure out ways to outsource the fixing as soon as you can. Maybe that means that you have $50 a month and you can have $50, $100 a month, you can dedicate that to signing up for a WordPress support service. There’s lots of different WordPress support services out there that cost anywhere from $50 to $150 a month and they do small job WordPress support.

Instead of you getting in and fixing that and adjusting that, you outsource that to that person so you can focus on those big things. Or maybe instead of handling ads yourself, you work with an ad network management company as soon as you can so you can focus on what’s important, which is the work. There’s all different ways that we can embrace brokenness and say, “Things are going to be broken and I know that they’re broken but I’m going to focus on doing the big, the important in order to continually push through and resist the temptation to do those little task type things.” I think if you do that, you’ll love the feeling of the progress that you make but it’s not easy to do and it’s not easy to embrace brokenness. That’s number 4.

Number 5, our final tip here for overcoming the Resistance. This is quitting things. Here’s the truth. I would assume this to be the truth for you. I think you’re probably too committed. It’s true for me and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s true for you. If you’re really going to “do” this thing side hustle blog platform, whatever it is that you’re doing, then you’ll probably need to quit some things that you’re currently involved in or you’re committed to doing. Simply put, if you don’t scale back your commitments, then you won’t have the time you need to work on your blog.

It’s going to be really, really hard or instead, otherwise impossible to maintain an outstanding blog, let’s say you’re focusing on a blog, so it’s going to be near impossible to maintain an outstanding blog if you’re trying to squeeze it into the sliver of the margin of your day. You can maintain a blog for sure in the margins of your day, but it’s darn near impossible to maintain an outstanding blog in just the margins of your day.

If you want to turn this into a thing, it really has to be outstanding. I’ll say this because part of this is our story. Lindsay was a teacher. I worked at a non-profit. As we were building our different businesses, at the time it was just Pinch of Yum and now it’s Pinch of Yum and Food Blogger Pro. Of course, we do this full-time now, but when we were building them, we focused on them in the margins of our day. We didn’t have a choice because we had our full-time jobs. What we didn’t do is a bunch of extra-curricular activities, even though realistically we would have loved to do those at that time, whether it’s joining like a sport rec league or maybe being involved in different clubs. It could be a variety of things.

The hard thing is those are good things. They’re not bad things. This is why this specific tip is so hard to hear and so hard to give this advice is because a lot of times it means cutting back on things that are really good thing in order to focus on doing the work that you’re doing. That’s part of overcoming the Resistance. It’s quitting things and focusing in, which is really, really hard when we are in a culture that says being busy and being involved in lots of different things is a good thing. The Resistance, it will tell us that we can and that we should be involved in lots of things.

It tells us that we should say yes more than no and that being busy means that we’re maximizing our potential but it’s a lie.

The truth is that in order to do the work, we need to have space and time to truly engage in that day after day, week after week, and year after year. All of these tips revolve around this book that I talked about that I really liked which is called The War of Art, but this one specifically can overlap if you envision the Venn diagram of books. This overlaps with another favorite book of mine called Essentialism. It just talk about how important it is for us to not be over-committed if we want to do important significant things and to push boulders as opposed to just pebbles.

I think everybody that listens to this podcast would be of the opinion that they want to push boulders, they want to do big things. In order to do that, we can’t have a bunch of different things that we’re focusing on or committed to which means that you’ll probably going to have to find ways that you can cut back or quit different things that you’re involved with even if they’re good things. I’ll say this as a last caveat. It doesn’t mean that it has to be forever, especially if you’re on the phase where you’re working full-time as well as doing your side hustle. That means that you have a really limited amount of time and if that’s you, you’re going to really have to focus in.

There might be a time where you’re lucky enough to transition to doing your blog or your platform, whatever it is, as a full-time or even part-time thing where can introduce some of those other activities back in, but especially if you’re in that early stage of juggling full-time job, family and this side hustle, you’re really going to have to focus and say no to things in order to focus on doing outstanding work, which takes a lot of time, I think more than people truly understand.

The bottom line is this: there are things in your life that you probably need to quit. This will open up the time that you need to do the work. It’s probably not that you’re not capable enough or not strong enough or you don’t have enough will power to get stuff done. It’s very possible that you’re over committed. The Resistance tells us to say yes to things so we avoid doing the work. Our biggest impact comes by saying no to things in order to build in the time and the space to do the work.

Those are the 5 tips that I have for overcoming the Resistance. One of the things I want you to know is it’s a universal thing. No matter your level of success or where you are starting out, it’s something that everybody feels. What I found is that people that continue to create work and to create content have embraced that and knowledge that they will always feel that and have found little tips or tricks or hacks, if you will, to try and overcome that.

As a quick review, the 5 different ways that I would recommend for overcoming the Resistance would be building your castle. Think about your work as building a castle. You’re not trying to get something in a week or a month, but you’re laying down bricks. Brick by brick, you’re building your castle.

Along the way, you shrink it down to the first step: what is the action that I can take today? I’m not thinking about it as writing a book; I’m thinking about it as creating an outline or even smaller, I’m thinking about it as opening the Word document and writing the first paragraph of what I want the book to be, so shrinking it down to the first step.

Reward the work. What are the little things that you can do to reward yourself when you engage in the work? For me, it’s coffee. For my parent’s dog, Sophie, it’s a cracker. For you, it might be listening to music you love or it might be working from your favorite spot in the house or maybe it’s working outside or going to your favorite restaurant or coffee shop to do the work. Think about ways that you can reward the work as you move forward.

Embrace brokenness. Know that things will always need to be fixed and you can’t fix things and then do the important work. You have to do the important work and in that time that’s left over, you can look at fixing and tinkering and things like that.

Then 5, quitting things. getting rid of that extra focus or extra-curricular content that you have o extra-curricular activities and focusing in on the things that are really important to you, those big items and realizing that so often we’re over-committed which means that we can’t focus on doing outstanding work.

Like I said, this is a blog post that I’d written … It was about a year and a half ago, but it’s something that every once in a while I come back to and revisit and, every once in a while, a new comment will pop up on that post. It’s one of my favorite post because I think it’s one of the most important concepts that I’ve applied to the work that we do and that I see others applying. So often, in this world that we live in which is creating content, publishing it, putting our work in front of people, so often the issue isn’t the actual work itself, it’s the mental struggle that comes along with it.

I hope that you found this helpful and I would encourage you to continue to think about ways that you can overcome the Resistance in order to do the work. I appreciate you guys listening to the podcast each and every week. We will be back here, same time, same place next week. Until then, make it a great week. Thanks, guys.

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  1. This was really helpful! I loved listening! I’m currently writing a blog post on my blog about overcoming this resistance and I want to link to this transcript. Is this ok?

  2. Yes, I could totally relate when you said that often doing the work itself is enjoyable, but it’s the getting started part that tends to be so hard! Breaking it down into little steps does help.