Everyone reaches a plateau eventually. It’s a normal part of the growing process, and not just physically, but in the world around us also. When we attempt to achieve or push towards a new goal and begin to rise, we inevitably hit a plateau moment.
And there’s a key a difference in people that continue their growth pattern and those that level off and settle on the plateau.
Identify when you’ve plateaued
The first piece to overcoming that plateau is really recognizing when you’ve hit it. In our exercise or our fitness routines it can be really easy to recognize when we’ve hit our plateau.
All you have to do is check if you’ve improved in the last couple of weeks. If you’ve noticed that your run times haven’t improved or you noticed that you’re no longer increasing your weight week-after-week, you’ve plateaued.
A plateau is a normal part of the the process
It’s important to understand that plateauing is a normal part of any process. It’s the result of our bodies and our minds adapting to the current situation to have a better chance of continuing to survive in that situation. The problem becomes when our goal isn’t to just survive but to grow, and our bodies and minds don’t quite follow that pattern naturally.
However what’s really important is how quickly we recognize that we are plateauing so that we can pivot as quickly as possible. I’ll talk more about pivoting in just a bit but the important piece right now is understanding that we want to know as soon as possible when we have leveled off. The sooner we recognize that we have slowed our growth, the faster we can change direction and get back on track.
It can be extremely tricky to identify when we’ve plateaued outside of fitness. How do you know when you’ve plateaued at your job? How do you know you’ve plateaued as a parent? How do you know you’ve plateaued at your hobby? The answer to these questions is the same way you know you’ve plateaued in your workouts. By measuring.
Track your efforts like you do your workouts
The only way we can really make a good decision that isn’t based on emotion or bias is to use quantifiable data. In our workouts we do this by recording time or our weights. In other life aspects this can be more complicated but we can still help give ourselves an idea of if we are on the right track.
You can do this by identifying a metric that you feel closely represents (not exactly) where you are getting your value from, and recording it every week just like you do your workouts.
Is your goal to learn to play the piano? Write down how many minutes you practice for every day. Is your goal to write a book? Write down how many words you write every day. Is your goal to be a better parent? Write down the number of times you do something you feel makes you a better parent.
By capturing this information and reviewing it each day, just like you do in a workout program, you can identify when you are improving and when you have plateaued.
Now, to actually get past the plateau…
Remember, our bodies and minds try to adapt to the particular situation we are putting them in and then from there they will level off when they feel good about that adaptation. To overcome this, we simply need to throw a wrench in the current routine.
Pivot your routine into something different
In exercise, when we are doing pushups and we get to a point where we just can’t seem to do any more day-after-day, we should switch to a different style of push up. We should purposefully do something that is similar, but slightly different. That’s the trick to over-coming a plateau.
So if you’re having trouble improving your long distance run times, try spiriting short distances. Having trouble improving swimming laps? Go ride a bike. Is your bowling game falling off? Try bowling left-handed. Struggling to think about what content to create for your next blog? Go off on a new topic.
Find ways to create change in your routines.
Don’t use the same tools and the same strategies every day!