Jenny Clawson spent eight years in the design industry, launching and running two companies before going back to school to earn her MBA with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship and Strategy. Since then, she has been heavily involved in the VC and entrepreneurial community, and writes regularly for several sites including ecoutah.com which she helped create this year. She has just started her third business (3rd times the charm right?), Launchworx, a platform that assists entrepreneurs in taking products to market and scaling their businesses more rapidly. Her personal site is www.rosecoloredgoggles.com.
Resistance. We have all felt it at some point or another. We set a goal, have a dream, have every intention of keeping that goal and realizing that dream, and then comes the morning. The morning where we wake up and think, what was I thinking? Did I really say I would do that? Yep, that’s resistance. And resistance is not a morning person.
Last year was my year of resistance. To everything, really. I graduated from B-school with the idea that I would take a break from achievement for awhile. I wanted a break from the endless nights of excel spreadsheets and power-point presentations. I felt I had deserved it. Before going back to school I had launched a business, so really, I had spent the past 4 years working around the clock. And I was exhausted. I dreamed of landing some cushy job with a paycheck, so I could then work on more important things, like getting a tan and perfecting my golf swing.
Well, you can imagine how well that turned out. The cushy job did not materialize, and I was stuck. Trapped really. In the belly of the whale, if you will. But unlike Jonah, I wasn’t swallowed up for 3 days, it was an entire year. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to get “the job.” I, who has always had great employment, who has always been able to land whatever job I wanted, was now one of “those people.” The more I interviewed, the more confused I became as to what it was I even wanted. But what really started to worry me was not so much that I couldn’t get hired, as that I didn’t really want to get hired. I began praying, pondering, exploring–willing with all my power to know what it was that I was to do now in my life. I came to the realization that I didn’t want a “job.” What I was looking for was purpose. I desperately needed to know what God wanted me to do with my life. I begged, pleaded, bargained. And the answer came. It crept into my mind and whispered the one thing I didn’t want to hear. It grew louder and began nagging me incessantly, saying “it’s time to launch a business.”
So what did I do? I did what any Jonah would do. I ran in the opposite direction. I watched a lot of Food Network Channel. I went to the gym. I worked a little, and I cried a lot. I resisted and resisted until I went through all 5 phases of the grieving process: 1) Denial and Isolation, 2) Anger, 3) Bargaining, 4) Depression, and 5) Acceptance. It was at step 4 that I knew I was in trouble. I knew that “not achieving” was not working for me, yet I just couldn’t do it. Every time I sat down to work on this new business, I became completely overwhelmed. The thought of it exhausted me in body, mind, and spirit. Hello resistance.
Because I was incapable at the time to work towards my dream and had a lot of extra time on my hands, I channeled my energy into Tony Horton's P90x exercise program. This program is known around the world for being an absolutely grueling, intense workout, geared to cause muscle confusion. So you are literally sore for 13 weeks. And the workouts are long, 1:15-1:30 hours each day, 6 days a week.
Nine weeks into the program and resistance reared its ugly head again. It was 10:30 pm, and I still had the Yoga workout to do. I despised that workout. It was 90 minutes long–which is an eternity in downward dog. I sat on the couch rationalizing to myself, “its O.K. to take a day off. You can just do two routines the next day. No one will know.” In the midst of this inner battle, I remembered something Horton said on his DVD (paraphrasing). “Some days you will not be able to do as much as other days, but just keep putting the DVD in and pushing play”.
So I said aloud, “Jenny, just get up and push play”.
And that’s when I faced resistance head on and beat it. That’s when I learned that it is in the I-don’t-feel-like-it, but-I-am-going-to-do-it- anyway-times that we make the real progress.
To live our dreams, we don’t need grandiose visions and plans. We just need to show up. Every day. Even when we don’t feel like it. Even when something “urgent” comes up. Even when we are scared out of our minds and completely overwhelmed. We show up.
So I have launched out—out of the whale’s belly and into the tumultuous sea. But I am out. And I am showing up.
Are you perchance avoiding — out of sheer terror — the dream that you really want to pursue?
I have one of those dreams on my plate. It's all I can do to get myself to spend a bit of time each day working on it. Only after I've exhausted all of my other excuses, of course. But like Jenny, I'm trying to pushing play.
What about you?