Breaking Down Plateaus: How They Form & What You Need to Know

At one point or another, we have all experienced plateaus in one aspect of our life or another. Whether it’s in our career, fitness journey, or personal growth, hitting a plateau can be frustrating and demotivating. But what exactly is a plateau? How does it form? And most importantly, how can we break through it? In this article, we’ll explore the answers to these questions and provide you with the knowledge and tools you need to overcome plateaus.

What is a plateau?

A plateau is a period of time where we experience a lack of progress or improvement despite putting in consistent effort. This can be in any area of our lives, but is commonly seen in fitness when we hit a weight loss or strength plateau, or in our careers when we feel stuck in the same position for an extended period of time. Plateaus can be frustrating, but they are a normal part of any journey towards improvement.

How can one form?

Plateaus can form for a variety of reasons. One common cause is simply that we have reached the limit of our current abilities or resources. For example, if we hit a weightlifting plateau where we can no longer lift heavier weights, it could simply be because we have reached the maximum strength that our current muscle mass can support. Similarly, if we have been in the same job for years and feel unmotivated or stuck, it could be because we have hit the limit of our current role and need to seek new opportunities for growth.

Another cause of plateaus is simply a lack of variety or challenge. If we have been doing the same workout routine or job responsibilities for an extended period of time, our progress may slow or stop due to the lack of new challenges and stimulation to our brains and bodies. Similarly, if we are not setting new goals or pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones, we may hit a plateau in our personal growth and development.

Breaking through a plateau

Identify the cause

The first step to breaking through a plateau is to identify the cause. Is it a lack of challenge or variety? Have you hit the limit of your current resources? Are you lacking motivation or direction? By understanding the root cause of your plateau, you can develop a plan to overcome it.

Set new goals

Setting new goals is an effective way to break through plateaus. Whether it’s a new fitness goal, career goal, or personal development goal, setting something that challenges you and pushes you outside of your comfort zone can help you break through a plateau. Make sure to set SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) to ensure that you have a clear plan and timeline for achieving them.

Try something new

If you have been doing the same thing for an extended period of time, it’s time to switch things up. Trying a new workout routine, taking on a new project at work, or learning a new skill can provide the variety and challenge needed to break through a plateau. It can also help you gain a new perspective and fresh ideas that can help you overcome any roadblocks.

Get feedback

Getting feedback from others can be helpful in identifying areas where you may be stuck or need improvement. This can be in the form of a coach or mentor, a coworker, or even a friend or family member. By getting an outside perspective, you can uncover blind spots and gain new insights that can help you break through your plateau.

Dealing with setbacks

Breaking through a plateau is not always a linear process. There may be setbacks and roadblocks along the way. It’s important to remember that setbacks are a normal part of any journey and do not mean that you have failed. Here are some tips for dealing with setbacks:

  • Refocus on your goals and remind yourself why they are important to you
  • Identify what went wrong and learn from it
  • Adjust your plan as needed to overcome the setback
  • Seek support from others who can provide encouragement and motivation

Taking action

If you’re feeling stuck in a plateau, it’s time to take action. Here are some steps you can take to break through your plateau:

  • Identify the root cause of your plateau
  • Set new, challenging goals
  • Try something new and get out of your comfort zone
  • Get feedback from others
  • Deal with setbacks in a positive way

Remember that plateaus are a normal part of any journey towards improvement. The key is to keep pushing forward and trying new things. With perseverance, determination, and a growth mindset, you can overcome any plateau and achieve your goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a plateau?
  • A plateau is a period of time where we experience a lack of progress or improvement despite putting in consistent effort.
  • How can a plateau form?
  • Plateaus can form for a variety of reasons, including hitting the limit of our current abilities or resources, lack of variety or challenge, and lack of motivation or direction.
  • How can I break through a plateau?
  • You can break through a plateau by identifying the root cause, setting new goals, trying something new, getting feedback from others, and dealing with setbacks in a positive way.
  • Are setbacks a normal part of breaking through a plateau?
  • Yes, setbacks are a normal part of any journey towards improvement.
  • What should I do if I experience a setback?
  • You should refocus on your goals, identify what went wrong and learn from it, adjust your plan as needed, and seek support from others.

References

1. Clear, J. (2018). Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. Avery.

2. Henshall, D. (2017). The 7 Principles of Fat Burning: Get Healthy, Lose Weight and Keep It Off! The Natural Way. Made for Success Publishing.

3. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2017). Self-Determination Theory: Basic Psychological Needs in Motivation, Development, and Wellness. Guilford Publications.

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