Too often we learn the lesson that plateaus are failure. That when we reach a static point in the learning or the use of a skill, that means we have failed. Part of maturity is to realize that plateaus are only plateaus.
When I first learned to type, reaching thirty words a minute was a major benchmark, and then thirty-five (required for a number of jobs). I now seem to type at about a hundred or more words a minute. Does having flattened out mean that I've failed? There are those who decide that they have failed at typing when they started to flatten out at twenty words a minute. At that point they just gave up, quit practicing and still hunt a peck.
This came into sharper relief with the Shangri-la Method or Diet I am using to move my set point. So many people hit their first plateau and then give up. At nine months this morning, my weight in showed sixty-nine pounds lost -- but I'd say about half the time I've spent on the diet, and about half of every month, I spend on plateaus.
I know, in a typical diet (that works because if you change what you eat you will lose weight for 2-3 weeks), the diet works for 2-3 weeks, then there is a plateau and then failure and rebound. It is why they call it yo-yo dieting.
But, I've learned the lesson that a plateau is not failure, and as I've looked at my life, I've realized that there are many plateaus. My walking skill has probably reached a plateau. I'm not getting better at walking -- and I don't care to spend more effort learning how to walk better -- but I don't consider myself a failure at it and do not expect to give it up. Life is filled with examples of that sort.
Yet, so very often, we look at plateaus with the lesson that a plateau is a failure. Much like sometimes "a cigar is only a cigar," a plateau is only a plateau, and sometimes it is a great place to look out and see the world from.
Shangri-la Diet version of this post here.