Do the Work is a short follow up to The War of Art and Turning Pro. I read it this month as fuel to fight against resistance. The key ideas are the same, but the stories and framing are different enough to make the book a fresh motivator for getting up and going to battle with resistance.
Here are my favorite quotes from the book:
“In other words, any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity. Or, expressed another way, any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower. Any of these acts will elicit Resistance.”
You don’t experience resistance before watching TV before eating a burger, or before staying home from the gym. It is only when you are trying to make positive improvements for the long term that the volume of resistance cranks up.
“Resistance Is Infallible Like a magnetized needle floating on a surface of oil, Resistance will unfailingly point to true North—meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing.”
The fact that resistance is strongest for the things that are most important to us makes it a great tool for gaining self-awareness. Obviously, there are things you don’t want to do that aren’t your calling. But those things don’t haunt your dreams. What resistance points towards are the activities and goals you can’t get out of your head, but also can’t seem to accomplish.
“In other words, fear doesn’t go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.”
“The problem with friends and family is that they know us as we are. They are invested in maintaining us as we are. The last thing we want is to remain as we are.”
One of the hardest things about making positive changes in our lives is the conflict it can cause with the people closest to us. They people who are accustomed to us and instinctively scared of our changes.
“Don’t think. Act. We can always revise and revisit once we’ve acted. But we can accomplish nothing until we act.”
“Don’t prepare. Begin. Remember, our enemy is not lack of preparation; it’s not the difficulty of the project or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account. The enemy is Resistance.”
“Research can become Resistance. We want to work, not prepare to work.”
This is one of the areas where I have personally struggled the most. Preparation can be your friend, but only once you have gone a few rounds with resistance. If you are working on something new, or something where the resistance is particularly strong, it’s better to jump right in and direct your actions as you go.
“The universe is not indifferent. It is actively hostile.”
Most people give up when they realized that the world is not going to hand them whatever they want. They settle. They blame the economy, the government, the education system. But true professionals know that to get want you want you don’t wait for handouts and support, you prepare to go in alone and seize what you want.
“One rule for first full working drafts: get them done ASAP. Don’t worry about quality. Act, don’t reflect. Momentum is everything.”
“Suspending self-judgment doesn’t just mean blowing off the “You suck” voice in our heads. It also means liberating ourselves from conventional expectations—from what we think our work “ought” to be or “should” look like.”
“Keep Working, Part Two Sometimes on Wednesday I’ll read something that I wrote on Tuesday and I’ll think, “This is crap. I hate it and I hate myself.” Then I’ll re-read the identical passage on Thursday. To my astonishment, it has become brilliant overnight.”
“There is an enemy. There is an intelligent, active, malign force working against us. Step one is to recognize this. This recognition alone is enormously powerful. It saved my life, and it will save yours”
“I’ve never read anything better on the subject than this from Marianne Williamson: Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”