I got the idea about this post as I was trading stocks (part of the day job, yes). In trading (stocks, futures, interest rates, commodities, etc.) there is what you call a resistance level. It is a level by which the price movement upward is met by a strong selling force. It is in this level wherein traders, investors, and other market players deem the price level too high and sell their holdings. In any kind of market, once you have a lot of sellers, prices stall or go down (basic economics, more supply than demand causes prices to go down).

Now, I realized that it’s not only in trading stocks or whatever that we find resistances. There is resistance that prevents us from starting something new. There is resistance when we’re trying to get promoted in our job. There is resistance when we want to achieve the fitness level that we want.

Simply put, resistance is the force that prevents you from getting things done. To quote Steven Pressfield, in his new book, “Do the Work”:

You see resistance when you engage in an act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity.

Have you ever wondered why starting something new, such as a disciplined fitness regimen has so much resistance (“oh I can’t do that”, “I don’t have the genetics”, etc.)?

It’s because engaging in the act (starting your first fitness regimen), will make you uncomfortable. You will experience pain and hardship. I always remember that time I started circuit training. I absolutely hated doing burpees. It gassed me out after a few reps. It was painful just thinking about performing those exercises.

The funny thing about resistance is that it is always there. Congratulations, if you’ve started a fitness regimen for yourself. That’s already a big step. The next resistance awaits when you reach a plateau. It could be a weight that you can’t lift or a body fat level that you just can’t crack. Whatever it is, resistance is going to be there trying to keep you at bay.

In trading there is what you call a break out. A break out happens when a strong force finally pushes through resistance after repeated failed attempts. A recent example is Silver which has broken out to new price levels last February 2011. It has been trying to break out from the $30 resistance level. On the third attempt, it was able to breakout. It reached a high of more than $45 just this April 2011. That’s more than a 50% gain in price! ()

Fortunately, one can also break out from life’s resistances. Just as a stock is able to breakout from a price level its been stuck with. The bad news is, it’s going to be a lot of work. Also, when resistance is met, this is also the time when people start looking for the magic pill, the cure it all, don’t fall into that trap. Instead, here’s how to break out from your own resistance levels

  1. Take a break and understand the problem – taking a break will give you some perspective. It will also give you time to understand the problem and to formulate a systematic way on solving the problem. I see this a lot especially with those of my friends who are undergoing a powerlifting program. They will work out a systematic plan on how to deadlift more than 1.5x their weight. Whether it be changing the rep ranges, periodizing, or changing their diet. They will work out a plan and attempt to destroy the plateau
  2. Pound it to the ground consistently– realize that the resistance will always be there. But it won’t be for long if you keep on pounding it. One day, it will just break, and the longer time you spend on pounding the resistance (working on your plan and revising the plan as needed), the greater your breakthrough will be. Work on it everyday!
  3. Focus on the Cause not on the effect – The reason people quit right before they get their desired result is that they become too impatient. This usually happens when people focus on the effect. Once they see nothing is happening, or the results aren’t coming by as quickly as expected, they blame their genetics, they blame themselves and quit. Sadly, most people quit when they’re just 3 feet from the gold. If you work on the cause (keeping with the workout plan, sticking with the diet everyday, progressively lifting heavier, etc.) you’ll see the effect sooner or later.

Resistances are always there to test us. If they weren’t there, then everything would be easy and there would be nothing to look forward to. I’ve had my break out moments and I hope you experience yours. I’m working on destroying the next resistances in my life how about you?


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