Plateaus in Life
“If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”― Bruce Lee
“Every leader will hit a series of plateaus in their lives. The key is not to say there, because settling on a plateau can easily lead to an elongated season of comfort. Being comfortable is one of the leader’s worst enemies” ― Gary Rohrmayer
“At some point, you will hit a plateau. If you keep doing same things you did to get to that point, make a change.”― J.R. Rim
“Plateaus are a manifestation of the law of diminishing returns, and when we reach one it simply means that it is time to adjust our methods.” ― Chris Matakas, The Tao of Jiu Jitsu
The toughest aspect in life is keeping our eyes on the ball when we hit plateaus. The plateau is that phase when you get comfortable or give up on your dreams as nothing seems to happen as you try achieve your goals and objectives.
You have heard the phrase they have plateaued in their career or marriage. You either get past the plateau or go downhill fast. We always need to recognize when we have hit a plateau. Watch out and be ready to change gears and get to the next level.
Keep Focused on the End Goal
The reason why we need to revisit our end goals often is to ensure we remind ourselves of our desired end outcomes and objectives clearly. What does our ideal life look like?
A plateau manifests itself in two ways:
– We have reached a comfort zone and are not willing to push past that zone. We are content with our environment and are not willing to disturb the status quo.
– We have given up on our dreams and goals and resigned ourselves to fate
All these two states are dangerous. Let me expound on them one by one.
Automatic Mode/Comfort Zone/ Coasting Along
We have all been there. We have worked hard to reach a certain milestone or attain a certain skill set. We get comfortable with the status quo.
Our product has attained number one status in the market, we have attained that PHD finally, we have bought that house in that neighborhood we always desired.
All this is marked by a certain milestone been achieved and us basking in our laurels. We forget that there is only one constant in life. That is CHANGE. The world is always evolving. If we are not sharpening or honing our skills daily we soon become obsolete.
Who remembers the top artist two years back. Who remembers the best-selling detergent 5 years back? That’s how brutal the world is. It’s constantly churning and creating new products, heroes and heroines daily.
The law of entropy comes into play here. When we do not employ our skill sets, use them constantly and let them lie dormant we lose them at the end of the day. I am in the process of recovering from a nasty accident and the movements I used to take for granted are now a herculean task to me.
It has reminded me of this principle.
Giving up on Goals/Dreams
The other deadly plateau is giving up on our dreams and goals and resigning ourselves to fate. This is even more deadly as the world is brutal and can consign many lives to endless misery.
This is the point where we give up on ourselves and give excuses as to why we can’t reach, attain a desired goal or end point. We make no effort to improve our skills, relationships or health outcomes. We are listless and become end consumers in society.
This is a terrible plateau as there is only one trajectory and that’s downhill. This is why it’s vital to check up and revisit our big dreams at least once a quarter. If the Allied Nations in the 2nd world War had resigned their outcomes to fate the world would be in a different reality at this juncture.
If our scientists had given up on their goals and dreams we would not enjoy the gadgets and day to day amenities and utilities we take for granted. If the artists had given up on their dreams we would not enjoy the art work, music compositions and other entertainment we take for granted.
The True Choice: Maintaining Equilibrium or Pushing to the next Level
We can choose to remain at the level we are comfortable with or choose to aim for higher heights. Any decision you make will still require you as in individual, family, community or nation to expend energy and effort.
Moving to the next Level
This is the toughest task for most of us. It requires patience and tenacity. It can be a long hard grind before you attain your next goal. This is where you will suffer setbacks but you just have to keep on grinding hard.
Moving to the next level also requires different skill sets. One needs to be able to learn and adapt new tactics, strategies and skills to move up the rung. We have heard the saying many times what brought you to your current level will not be enough to take you up to the other level.
Developing and Learning new skill sets
If you want to learn any skill you will face plateaus. This is where most people easily give up. The prize is always very close you just have to persist hard enough.
Learning a new language, programming or any other major skill set is always exciting but when the hard phase sets in most individuals give up.
This phenomenon is played out again and again in other areas such as sticking to diets, exercise and other commitments that are useful to us. The key is to recognize that you are aiming to reach a level of mastery.
The most apt example is the martial arts and their belt grading levels. There are no shortcuts in this area you have to master a level before you can graduate to the next level. Watch any martial arts movie and you will get the concept behind mastery.
You may have reached the pinnacle or summit of your goals. To remain there, you will still need to maintain your edge and skill sets. You still need to sharpen that saw constantly.
You cannot afford to relax as the law of entropy will always work against you. Maintenance activities have to be carried out. You may have attained that perfect body you always desired after hard work and dieting.
Letting your foot off the pedal and sliding back to bad habits will result in you going back to that frustrating level of obesity or an unfit state. If it’s a company it always has to keep on innovating and improving the customer experience.
Energy and effort still need to be expended no matter what milestone you have attained.
Mastery: The Keys to Success And Long Term Fulfillment – George Leonard
Your Creative Mind: How to Disrupt Your Thinking, Abandon Your Comfort Zone, and Develop Bold New Strategies – Scott Cochrane
Mastery – Robert Greene