Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Overcoming the Resistance

I don't have trouble talking. So why do I struggle to get something down on on paper (or in this case, the web). It's because when I put it on paper, I become accountable for it. My name is there. So I can get attribution. That also opens me up for criticism. And that's a source of resistance.

And when we as humans, naturally try to avoid resistance. It's uncomfortable for us.

However, we don't avoid everything that's uncomfortable. Why do so many people take up the challenge of running a marathon each year? Why go through the difficulty of the training and the blisters? Because we can picture the feeling of success when we cross the finish line. There is enough pull to overcome the resistance.

Humans are great at getting motivated for things that give instant gratification rewards. They struggle much more with long term projects where the reward doesn't come until much later. For my latest Android app, which took a bit over 3 months to complete, I found it helpful to break it down into pieces. As Simon Sinek suggests, we actually get a small hit of dopamine (reward) when we cross off something off of our todo list. It's a powerful driver that even when he completed a task but forgot to write down his to-do, he would write it down and then cross it off just to get that little reward. I did something similar but in Trello. It was rewarding to seeing those cards move over to the next column. Also, once I started to get users and  feedback (and especially when I broke things in production and got feature requests) I was incredibly motivated to keep going.

Whats the takeaway? In order to overcome resistance to complete a big project. Try to break it up into pieces where you can get rewarded. This can be feedback from users or just the fulfillment of seeing the task get checked off.