Steven Pressfield, The Resistance – and I am not yet old

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We all want to achieve great things. Fulfilling things which are beautiful, helpful, artistic and good. Paradoxically, I believe it is always tempting to find the easiest path to quitting. Quitting is a lot easier than shipping new work to the world. Quitting means we won’t fall under scrutiny.

This psychological trick we play on ourselves is what Steven Pressfield terms as “The Resistance” with a capital ‘R’. The Resistance is strong, sneaky and constantly trying to stop you doing your best work. The Resistance knows you inside and out, and so it can always find the best way to bring you to a standstill when you are wanting to start something new.

In my case, The Resistance regularly stops me from doing my best work by telling me I am old and it is too late. It tells me that I am already nearly 40 years old, and if I haven’t become “insert whatever achievement I am dreaming of” by now, then there is no point because it’s too dam late. Be happy with what you achieved so far and don’t dream of anything more, old man. Go eat a burger and watch TV.

The thing is, when The Resistance barks at you, you only have to scratch the surface a little bit to see how it’s all lies. Take the below definitions of old age as an example:

  • The World Health Organisation believes that most developed world countries characterise old age starting at 60 years and above.
  • However, this definition isn’t adaptable to a place like Africa, where the more traditional definition of an elder, or elderly person, starts between 50 to 65 years of age.
  • The World Economic Forum (WEF) has recently defined old age through a new measure called “prospective age” which looks at the average number of years people have left to live. So according to WEF, being old doesn’t start at age 65, rather when people have an average of 15 more years left to live.
  • Most of Europe have similar views of old age to the World Health Organisation, believing old age starts at 65 years of age.
  • In America, one researcher found that you are considered old at 70 to 71 years of age for men and 73 to 73 for women.
  • Just under a decade ago in Britain, people believed old age started at 59. However, research undertaken in 2018 found that British people believed you were considered old at 70.
  • A decade ago, Turkey considered 55 the beginning of old age, because the country’s average life expectancy at the time was 72. Now, however, with an unexpected boom in people over the age of 65, you are considered old when you reach the age of 70.
  • In developing countries, the age you are considered old is around when you can start receiving some form of pension.
  • In China, the retirement age is 60 for men and 50 for female workers, or for female civil servants, 55. China’s retirement age is considered one of the bigger gaps in retirement age.
  • Whereas, India has one of the lowest retirement ages in Asia, with 58 considered the age to retire.
  • In Libya, the retirement age was raised from 65 to 70 years.
  • In many cases, it seems that the common idea of what is old has either raised or lowered to a similar mark, around 65-70 years of age.
  • In Australia, the current retirement age is 67, however, that is expected to rise over the next few years. The Government is also pushing for older people to remain working for longer, so there has been a shift in what the Government believes is old.

So, by any real world measure I am not yet old. Take That, Resistance.

EVEN IF I WAS OLD – I could and should still work on something because humans are incredible and we can create beautiful art until we die. We can’t all be in NBA because of genetics, but we can share good work and art forever.

Fuck the Resistance. It is real and it stops us from trying. Which is tragic beyond belief.