Is there one thing that you really want in your life, that just keeps seeming out of reach? Or are you already pretty good as a creator, but would like to understand better how that happened and how to keep being good at it?
Here I want to tell you about an amazing method for getting what you want, explained in the works of Robert Fritz, especially in his first book, The Path of Least Resistance.
The “Path of least resistance” is a familiar metaphor for how the world works, following the easiest path: whether it’s us lazy humans that just keep doing what we’ve always done, or inanimate things that fall along a straight line under the pull of gravity.
Robert Fritz’s “discovery” consisted in an especially clear understanding and aptitude to explain it to others, of how to harness this natural physical force.
Here’s how this simple idea of the path of least resistance can really transform your life into one that is single-guided towards achieving what you really want: it’s by building structures in your life that are such that by being your lazy self, you can do no other than create the results that you want.
I came across Robert Fritz’s books in my late teens and they had a huge impact on me. I’m sure they helped me churn through my PhD in a swift 4 years. I think they were key also for me in jumping from theoretical particle physics to investment banking. They returned to visit me when I embarked on doing biomedical research 10 years ago.
What is the Path of Least Resistance about?
It’s marketed as a tool to create nearly anything you want in your life. This is quite a bold claim, and other methods also have similar claims. One popular alternative is the Law of Attraction, which is also a powerful method, that I will return to in another article. Other valid alternatives are the Natural Brilliance Model of Paul Scheele, the very well-known S.M.A.R.T. goals, and various methods that bypass the conscious mind, like hypnosis and self-hypnosis. For now, let’s just leave the bold claims aside, and focus on understanding the concepts and how to apply it to our own lives.
In a nutshell, the method of The Path of least resistance consists in having in mind a clear vision of what you want to create. Here, you want indeed to be very clear about what you want and what you don’t want, and to keep crystal clear in your mind at all times what is this vision, to not let it fade away under the daily grind.
Take some time to get clarity about what you want and what you don’t want. I recommend using some creativity methods like Image Streaming and Mind Mapping to awaken your vision of what you want in your mind.
Next, you also need to have a clear and honest and perhaps very detailed grasp of what is your current reality, as it relates to the vision. You’ve got to be very careful not to sugar-coat the present reality. Furthermore, you need to keep very well aware of your current reality as it changes day-to-day.
The sort of magic by which you will get what you want is called “Structural tension” by Robert Fritz. Structural tension is the difference that you can clearly see between your clear representation of your current reality, and your clear vision of what you want.
I’ve used the word “clear” repeatedly to hammer in that this is very important, and if you’re like most people, a key problem that you have is that you both have a foggy vision of what you want, but also and perhaps surprisingly a foggy representation of your present reality too. Think about it.
Finally, the recipe for success with getting what you want is to have in place a “structure” that moves you from your current reality to your vision in the most direct way. With this structure, you can just be your lazy self and you naturally produce the results that you want. Creating this structure is not easy, but it is crucial, and you probably need help with that. It starts with eliminating distractions, but it’s of course a lot more than that.
The best I can do to help is to tell my story as an example, and to refer you to the examples in Robert Fritz’s works for guidance.
My Present Story
As I said above, the works of Robert Fritz were very influential for me some 10, 15 and 25 years ago, and all these could be valid examples to give you. But I feel my current situation is the most inspiring and with the broadest appeal.
Now in my late 40s, I can look back and see that I’ve had several academic careers, I’ve made scientific discoveries, I held a high-flying job as an investment banker, but none of this has appeal to me anymore. I’ve changed, just like everyone else.
Instead, my vision is to be my own employer, and/or not really have to work per se, and live a sort of fantasy life such as exemplified in the book The 4-Hour Workweek of Tim Ferriss: According to my vision, most of my life would be centered around creative activities of my choosing, and there would be a fair bit of travel too, perhaps a month or two per year.
I have to recognize that my current reality is very far from my vision. I do need to generate income and I could easily be led astray by taking a job that would make it nearly impossible to have the time to do my creative activities. I am constantly pushed by friends and relatives to do so: Why don’t you take another banking job, that’s where the money is! Or why don’t you teach and hold a tenured professorship, where you are free to do what you want! But my reality is that professors don’t do at all what they want.
In my current reality, I have nearly enough time for my figure skating, since I make it a priority, about half the time I would like for my piano playing and for doing acroyoga, and there are several other activities for which I have little time, like dancing and singing, returning to playing the flute, and much else.
So the crucial question is: what is the structure that I can put in place, that will ensure I lazily glide towards my vision, by following the path of least resistance? Honestly, I have not found for certainty what this structure should be. It’s a creative process to find it, maintain it, and adjust it by staying astute with what is working or not.
For me, a key component has been developing websites, including this one, geared at helping people. I do that through a platform called Wealthy Affiliate, which is like a university for learning how to be successful online, and which I very much recommend. You can sign up for free here and find out for yourself.
This requires me to dedicate a significant amount of time to “work”, i.e. working on my websites and learning the craft of affiliate marketing, much of which I actually enjoy doing, about 20-30 hours per week. The structure which ensures keeping the structural tension between my vision and my reality also includes saying no to activities that don’t fall under my priorities, saying no to jobs, saying no to people, etc. Saying no becomes the lazy thing to do to potential distractions, i.e. what’s easier than saying no!, because I’m just too busy with my priorities!
What Are the Benefits?
First, this is a very simple model. The structure keeps you from wasting time and erring, what Robert Fritz calls oscillating. As I hinted above, it becomes much easier to take control of your own life, and say no to the agents who want to take over your time.
What Are the Challenges?
There are several challenges, of which we can make a long list, but to keep it short:
- it can be hard to formulate a clear vision of what one wants
- it can be hard to truly see the current reality and accept it, rather than deny it or embellish it
- it can be hard to design the proper structure that takes you from reality to vision
Robert Fritz offers many examples, through his books and his newsletter, which I receive monthly since 2009.
A very recent (June 2019 newsletter) and inspiring example is that of Rosalind, Robert’s wife, who just achieved some official US records, and unofficial world records, in weightlifting at the age of 71 years old! We’re talking here about lifting some 200 pounds, after under one year of training. This to me is a clear and straightforward example of what can become possible through this method.
At key times in my life, the Path of Least Resistance has helped me considerably with putting in place a structure and a way of thinking that led me to major achievements.
I strongly recommend it to you, starting with reading the books carefully. You can visit their website and sign up to their newsletter here. I’ve not personally done their live trainings, but I have a very successful friend who did one some 20 years ago, and was very enthusiastic about it.
If you have any questions or queries, please leave them below and we will aim to answer them quickly.Social tagging: Self-coaching