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Do the Work Summary

Here’s the Do the Work summary. Overcome the resistance to creating. This is perfect for creatives who finally want to emerge and do something.


Do the Work author Steven Pressfield shows what is the true enemy. That enemy is working against you. He calls it Resistance. That is responsible for your unfinished projects.

You want to do work that matters. But Resistance is always there. His book and this summary will show you how to overcome that.

About the Author

Steven Pressfield is an American author who wrote The War of Art, Do the Work, and Turning Pro. He often explains the Resistance which entrepreneurs, athletes, and artists commonly face.

He also wrote historical fiction and screenplays. Before becoming a screenwriter, he worked as a copywriter, schoolteacher, mental hospital attendant, and more.

Main takeaways: Do the Work Summary

Let’s discuss the key takeaways from his book:

  1. Resistance is real.
  2. Resistance can guide us to our true calling.
  3. Rational thought will stop you from doing your work.

Resistance is real

Ever woke up having the compulsion to do something that matters? We all were. Our heartbeat’s faster. We can’t think of anything else. We feel that we need to do something.

But things happen in the course of the day. We get busy with our day jobs. We get distracted. We log in to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We look outside. We stop looking at ourselves. Finally, we forget what we have to do.

This goes on for weeks, months, years, and decades. Why does it always happen? It’s because of Resistance. It will stop you from your tracks. It will feed you with discouraging thoughts. You won’t take action.

That Resistance might be in the form of fear. It doesn’t just go away. It’s real. But often we don’t recognize it.

We should accept that it’s real first. Then we’ll figure out how to fight it. We’ll know that it’s just natural. That all entrepreneurs, athletes, and artists encounter it. But not all of them allow Resistance to stop them.

Resistance can guide us to our true calling

The more important an action is, the more Resistance you will feel. You might have an important conversation with a partner or co-worker. But you avoid it because it’s not comfortable.

Or you feel it’s important to finish writing your novel. But your mind is filled with doubts. You know it’s important but you keep procrastinating. You don’t finish what you started.

This also happens in business. You know that your product is a lot better than the alternatives out there. You know that you can surpass the services of others. You know that you’re actually doing the customers a favor if you get in to the business. But what happens? You don’t launch.

It’s Resistance at work. But it actually guides you to your true calling. You’re afraid. But you know in yourself that it’s the one thing that will make a difference.

The more important a task is, the more you will avoid it. That uncomfortable conversation. That novel or other work of art. That business you’ve been dreaming of.

Let Resistance work for you. Don’t let it stop you. The obstacle can actually help you see the way clearly towards your calling.

Rational thought will stop you from doing your work

Aside from Resistance, rational thought is also one of the worst enemies. Why? When you do a lot of thinking, tendency is you won’t act.

For example you’re planning to write a novel. You know all the bestselling authors in your genre. You know how they got successful. You actually know that you can do better than them.

But while researching, you read a comment of one unsuccessful writer. You read his struggles. You read his hard work. You read his countless unsuccessful attempts.

That one story is enough to discourage you. Just one negative comment and it will demoralize you. Then your mind acts as a filter. You will only notice those unsuccessful writers. That becomes a downward spiral.

You’ll also do some research about fiction books. You might read that thousands of books are getting published each year. What is your chance that you’re going to make it?

It also happens in business. You’ll read about 80 percent of small businesses fail within 5 years. So why bother starting one? You realized that the odds are against you.

Too much research and rational thought will stop you from doing your work. They will fill your mind with doubts before you start the thing you must do. You will also get the doubts whenever you’re working.

Keep in mind that doing something that matters takes time (a lot of it). You’ll easily get discouraged if you have any doubts.

The key is to actually do the work. Sit down and get something done. It’s the only way to beat the Resistance. The more work you do, the easier it is to keep going. You’ve invested a lot in it. There’s no other way but to keep going.

You’ll also learn the following from the Do the Work book:

  • Why you should stay primitive
  • Act then reflect. But don’t do both at the same time.
  • Playing small does not serve the world
  • The enemy is always inside you
  • Why you should suspend self-judgment

My personal takeaways

It inspired me to take action. I realized that motivation won’t be enough. The real solution is just to sit down and do the work.

It’s tempting to list all the pros and cons of chasing our dream. But it’s actually harmful. One con can outweigh dozens of pros. It might be enough to stop us from doing something that matters.

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