Sneaking up on Resistance

by Dec 6, 20220 comments

Whenever we aren’t engaging in a behavior that we know is good for us or we’re not doing something that would move us towards our goals, resistance is involved. Resistance is the wind that keeps blowing out the embers of motivation. It shows up in obvious ways, like wanting to improve our physical fitness but not going to the gym simply because we don’t feel like it or subtle ways like prioritizing everything but exercise.

Resistance is a pervasive invisible force that keeps us from progressing in life. It’s like those Tik Tok videos where a trickster stretches Saran Wrap across a doorway and some unsuspecting target bounces off the plastic wrap as they turn the corner to walk through the door. Glasses askew, the joke’s victim is bewildered. Walking through that door should have been easy.

Instead of plastic wrap, resistance looks more like oversleeping, taking one more phone call, forgetting to write something down, and cleaning the grout in your bathroom before doing the thing that you know you should be doing.

Resistance is tricky. You can have all the knowledge, tools, and support you need to change, you can even have the desire, but for some reason all those encouraging factors are not capable of pushing you to that essential tipping point. So how do you beat a formidable opponent like resistance?

The reason for resistance varies depending on the individual, however the strategy for defeating it is universal. You have to sneak up on it. You don’t make any grand announcement about your intention to change, you just engage in the smallest possible effort toward that change for one day. For instance, you don’t join a gym, you just decide to walk around the block today. You don’t clean your house, you clean a drawer. You don’t commit to drinking 64 ounces of water, you just drink one glass before your morning coffee. You don’t go on a diet, you eat one healthy meal you’re proud of – today.

In James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, he suggests you commit daily to getting just 1% better at something you ultimately want to master. If you do that, resistance is imperceptibly whittled away and by the end of the year you are 365% better at that one thing.

So, what’s that one behavior change that keeps alluding you? Where’s your self-improvement paralysis? Today, engage in the smallest effort you can make that will launch a desired behavior change. Do your 1% today, and then tomorrow ask yourself if you want to do it again. Sneak up on it.

Lisette Cifaldi, LISW-CP is a psychotherapist, empowerment coach, and public speaker. Learn more at