So you’ve made quite a few major life changes over the past 6 (or however many) months hey… moving more, eating better, etc. you’ve had some pretty awesome results due to these changes too right?
But now you’ve ‘plateaued’.
But have you?
Or has everything just slowed down and you’re not seeing change so quickly?
My view on many plateaus is that most of the time they are just perceived. You haven’t plateaued at all. Sure you may not have hit that new back squat pb that you were after, but that doesn’t mean drastic change is required. ‘Right! Time to hop across to a new strength program ‘cos this one ain’t working for me anymore!’ Sure you can’t see as much change in the mirror as opposed to last month, but that doesn’t mean you now need to go keto and ramp up the cardio to get that rapid change back.
Firstly, unfortunately far too often I see people not acknowledging how great their early progress was. You’re already wanting the next thing when you haven’t appreciated how far you have come. So before looking ahead, just take a moment to look back… how f**king awesome was that!? Look at you! No, don’t skim over it… the YOU from back then is VERY different to the YOU you see now, and that is a result of the positive changes you have made. Now go ahead and high five yourself.
Secondly, realise that EVERYONE will always slow in achievements after a rapid start. No you haven’t stopped progressing. You are just moving slower. This is why…
The reason we make great progress early is because we always start off our journey by making big, simple and obvious changes to our habits (eat better, move more, be kinder etc). These simple changes you’ve made to your lifestyle, behaviours and outlooks create large scale generalised change (lose weight, get fitter) especially to someone who wasn’t doing mucnh beforehand. But this means there will be less major generalised changes left to make. You’ve done it already and those good habits are now you. It now takes less effort for you to complete the tasks required to maintain or improve as they are now learned habits, you can unconsciously take yourself through the processes. You are no longer the guy that doesn’t pay attention to what he eats and is lucky to exert himself once a week. You’re the guy that aims to eat well at least during the weekdays and manages around 3 workouts a week. That is massive in comparison to the former, especially when you multiply it over 24 weeks!
So please! Do not suddenly jump ship and flip the plan just because you think it isn’t working anymore! Do not undo all of that good work!
In order to achieve greater positive change, it is in the finer details and the habits requiring more commitment and dedication that will take you there.
To achieve finer detailed goals (higher level performance and skill, above average/elite athlete category body fat percentages, trust and transparency filled relationships) we need to work on finer detailed habits (more consistent diet and training, actively working on your relationships EVERY day, openly learning EVERY day, accepting and learning from all failures, constant self development). The little things. The little things that take longer to instil as ingrained habits, the things that take a high (well above average) level of dedication to achieve.
Time for an audit on your current habits and processes. Yes they are good and they have helped you get you to where you are now, but could they be better? If you want to achieve a sub 3min Fran, a 100kg snatch, the physique of a high level athlete or a happy open relationship with your family, are you doing all the daily tasks that a person who has a sub 3 Fran, a 100kg snatch, an athletes physique or a solid relationship does?
Drinking less or not at all, sleeping more, keeping a food diary, dedicating more time to recovery, reading more, putting your phone down, having more meaningful conversations, practicing mindfulness and gratitude, loving yourself more, doing more selfless acts, spending more time working on your physical weaknesses, focussing more and pushing yourself harder at training…
See how much more there is to work on? Understand now why your progress slows down?
Inch by inch you work away at these smaller, more dedicated changes. You cannot attack these changes with the same intensity you gave your initial, more simple changes. Because they aren’t as sustainable as move more, eat better. So they’re going to take time. And during that time you aren’t going to notice much change, like your toilet roll… it doesn’t look any smaller once you’ve used a few pieces, it doesn’t look smaller when you use it the next day, but after a few days, all of a sudden BAM! It’s almost empty! Same concept for your personal goals, only over a longer time period.
You haven’t hit a plateau, you just sit in one of these 3 categories:
- You haven’t developed the finer detailed traits required for the goals you desire just yet (even if you think you have).
- You have been working on them, you just need to work on your patience.
- You need to stop and truly acknowledge how great your progress has really been so far, appreciate and be proud of your efforts, and stop being so damn hard on yourself.
Z. You actually have plateaued! Which would be as a result of you ‘going through the motions’. In this case, audit your goals, audit your habits and processes, get to work.
Lastly… I learned over the last year to make sure I am enjoying the process and the journey. The end result of achieving a goal is always great, but it is never as good as the actual journey to get there… the battles and challenges, the new friendships, the growth of relationships with those you cross along the way… those things make the actual achievement of a goal so much sweeter. It is in those memories where the true happiness and fulfilment is found.