Is your personal evolution “stuck in a rut”?

It is so exhilarating when we are making rapid progress towards our goals.  For some of us, that might mean steady weight loss as part of a diet and exercise program.  Or, it might be seeing our daily word count accumulate as we develop our writing skills.

When we are making progress, it is easy to stay on track and to stay motivated.

The real challenge is when that rapid progress suddenly…stops.  It is when that scale just does not want to budge past a certain point, or when a frustrating creative block becomes chronic.

While this lack of progress may feel like being “stuck in a rut,” I prefer to think of it as a plateau in personal evolution.

Whether it’s a physical fitness goal or a skill-building objective, the angst and frustration is the same.  It is often easy to identify the areas for improvement and general ideas for how we may make those improvements. However, in practice it is not always quite so clear cut.

It has taken me a long, sometimes painful amount of time to finally recognize and accept:  plateaus are part of our personal evolution, whether we like it or not.  

Plateaus are sometimes indications that we have become comfortable and complacent again, that the sense of urgency has waned.  They are cyclical, these periods of slowed evolution. But so, too, is the period of rapid improvement. We should take heart in that fact.

So the key, as I see it, is to acknowledge that plateaus are part of the evolution process and we should not allow ourselves to fixate on this lack of progress as that will only serve to demotivate us.

A plateau should be viewed as an opportunity:  this is a time for reflection and self evaluation!  

Ask yourself:

  • What has caused this period of complacency?
  • Did I allow the usual distractions of everyday life to get in the way?
  • Maybe I felt a sense of entitlement that eroded my discipline; the classic phrase “I work hard, I deserve a break” so easily becomes a recurring excuse, derailing the progress towards our goals.

The proactive question to ask ourselves is: how can we recapture that spark which preceded past personal evolution blitzes?

This is where daily journalizing may pay dividends by reviewing the insights we had during past experiences of self motivation.

While we don’t want to get stuck on a plateau for any longer than we must, we should not let this very normal cycle discourage us.  

We should instead remember to keep an eye on the big picture and take advantage of the opportunity to set ourselves up for another inspiring surge of rapid personal evolution.  Persistence is essential to success!

What do you do, Dear Reader, when you get “stuck in a rut” that stagnates the progress you are making towards your goals?  I invite you to share your ideas and experiences in the comments below.

About Frank Hurt

A woman once told him, "Frank when you grow up you're going to be brilliant and handsome."

It turns out Frank's mother is pretty good at predicting the future. Almost as good as Frank is at writing his own bio in third-person perspective.


  1. Sheila Hlibichuk says:

    My teaching career has beautiful mountain tops, deep scarred valleys, and friendly but frustrating plateaus. When I can rest on the friendly plateaus, I stand strong and secure. I look out across the land and realize the effort that it took to get to the “happy place”. I embrace it and slow my breathing. I bask in the comfort, but I’m always on the lookout for complacency. Sometimes, when I least expect it, or maybe when I’m not looking on purpose, it hits. There’s no movement. No fall into the pit, but no climb up to the exhilarating peak. That’s the scariest. No movement.

    What to do? What to do? It’s interesting that this topic has surfaced because it is quite timely. I find myself on a particularly frustrating plateau. I hadn’t realized it until the week before our Christmas break. I hadn’t realized it until I spoke the words out loud, “Could I have lost the touch for touching students? Could I have lost the drive to teach?” The answers scare me, so I’m not ready to go looking for the answers just yet.

    I realized, however, that I need to find the answers fairly soon, for my sake and the sake of my students. I need to take my own advice. I am good at that–giving advice to others, or at least they tell me I am. So, here’s what I do:

    1) Surround myself with positive people. Positivity breeds positivity. Positive people help keep me creative.
    2) Do one thing I didn’t think I could do. This one doesn’t have to be related to teaching. I pick something that I didn’t think I could do and do it: run a block, read a book in 6 hours, crochet a doily, make baklava. As soon as I accomplish something I didn’t think I could do, my self-confidence soars.
    3) Sometimes I simply just keep doing what I’m doing. The breakthrough will come. Change can’t happen if there’s no activity. I often tell my students who have a writing block to just keep their pen moving; it doesn’t matter if they write the same word over and over fifty or a hundred times. The activity is what’s important.
    4) Time travel to the past. By looking backward to see where I’ve been before–either on a plateau or on the mountain, my successes can reassure me that I won’t be stuck here forever. I can plan to move because, well, I’ve moved before.
    5) My self-esteem file is also a great go-to help. I have a box in which I keep notes from students and parents and colleagues that tell me how I’ve helped them (or their child or another student). I read and re-read them. I use them much like the travel to the past routine. I use them to remind myself that I have made a difference.
    6) Pray. For me, knowing that the plateau has a purpose, that the plateau may well be part of God’s plan for my life helps me. Psalm 91 is one of my helps when I’m stuck. If I put it in God’s hands, I know the outcome will be what it was meant to be. I do what I can do ( activity) and I let God do what He does.

    Now….on to taking my own advice……

    • Wow, what a fantastic, detailed comment! Thank you so much for this.

      RaeLea and I have a “Motivations” document which we started a few years ago. We add to it over time, and turn to it whenever we are feeling in a slump (with sections specific to our physical fitness goals, creative output goals, etc.). That has proven so helpful when experiencing plateaus!

      As you say: following our own advice is sometimes the toughest challenge.

      Thanks again for the wonderful ideas.

Speak Your Mind