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Escaping Plateaus, Stagnation, and Ruts

Life has a way of meandering through peaks and valleys, gutters and strikes. We go through stages of pride inducing progress followed by brutal stages of stalled momentum and frustrating stagnation. Mental blocks. Physical plateaus. Our enthusiasm wanes. It can be discouraging and disheartening. My information diet has synchronized lately reading some Seth Godin, particularly "The Dip" and "The Practice". In addition to hearing from psychologist Adam Alter on the “Hidden Brain” podcast. Adam studies judgment, decision making, and social psychology at NYU. All three of these guys look to unlock and share the secrets to breaking free from ruts so we can create and ship our respective contributions out to the people who need to them.

The Dip: Godin's Perspective

Seth Godin introduces the concept of “The Dip” as something we all encounter so it’s best to understand it. If we know what it is and how to recognize it, we can anticipate and push through it. The Dip represents the temporary period of struggle and frustration that occurs after the initial enthusiasm of starting a new endeavor has faded. It's the point where the initial excitement wears off, and the real challenges begin to surface. The Dip occurs in fat loss journeys, mediation practices, new business adventures, on and on.

Godin advises that when you recognize you’re in The Dip, it's essential to evaluate whether the effort you're putting in is aligned with your long-term goals. “Is this endeavor worth the struggle?” “Am I willing to push through the obstacles to reach the other side?” By acknowledging The Dip is a natural part of any pursuit, we prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally for the challenges ahead. Embracing The Dip with a crystal clear understanding of your objectives can help you navigate and emerge stronger and more accomplished on the other side.

The Practice: Cultivating Consistency and Mastery

Godin's "The Practice" is the idea of consistently showing up and doing the work, regardless of external outcomes. He emphasizes that creating meaningful work requires consistent effort over time. He urges us to adopt a mindset focused on the process rather than the end result.

"The Practice" encourages readers to overcome the resistance (Looking at you Steven Pressfield) that often accompanies creative endeavors. He advocates for a daily practice that nurtures creativity and innovation, emphasizing Mastery through continuous learning and process refinement. By approaching your craft with dedication and intentionality, you will build the foundation and roots capable of holding lines pulling you out of ruts and toward your goals.

Insights from Adam Alter

Adam Alter’s writings and interviews offer us a deeper understanding of the mechanisms that contribute to getting stuck and the role of habits (The Practice) in overcoming them. His research shines a light on the significance of habits in shaping our behaviors. Both positive and negative habits.

Alter's studies underscore the importance of being mindful enough to identify habits that contribute to our ruts and replacing them with constructive behaviors. For example, recognizing patterns of procrastination or self-doubt and mindfully replacing them with habits that foster productivity, self-confidence, and internal locus of control, leading to breakthroughs. Alter's work is similar to James Clear emphasizing the malleability of habits and how deliberately changing them will create a positive ripple effect, and a rising tide elevating our overall performance and well-being.

Approach to Getting Out of a Rut

Combining the insights of Godin's "The Dip" and "The Practice" with Alter's studies provides us a comprehensive approach to overcoming ruts and crafting a life we enjoy.

  1. Acknowledge The Dip: Recognize that obstacles and setbacks are going to happen. It happens to everyone as a natural part of any journey. Understand The Dip is temporary and persistence will lead to growth and Mastery.

  2. Clarify Your Goals: Evaluate whether your current endeavors align with your long-term goals and aspirations. Ask yourself if the effort you're putting in is worth the potential rewards. If the answer is “no”, take the needed steps backwards to find the wrong the turn and recalculate.

  3. Embrace Consistency: Cultivate a The Practice and prioritizes consistent effort over time. Focus on the process of creating and refining your work rather than fixating on immediate outcomes. Process over destination.

  4. Challenge Habits: Identify habits that contribute to ruts, such as procrastination and negative self-talk. Thought stop and replace bad habits with constructive behaviors that promote productivity and positivity. Eventually this will become a habit that serves us as opposed to habit that hinders us.

  5. Seek Feedback and Learning: Remain open to feedback and continuously seek opportunities to learn and improve. Read, watch TED talks, listen to podcasts. Embrace failure as an opportunity for growth and refinement.

  6. Connect with a Community: Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who share your passion and commitment. A supportive community will provide encouragement, accountability, and fresh perspectives. Jim Rohn’s average is real thing.

  7. Practice Resilience: Develop resilience by adapting to setbacks and maintaining a positive attitude. Embrace challenges as opportunities to build strength and character.

Breaking free from a rut requires a combination of mindset shifts, deliberate practice, and intentional habit change. Godin's "The Dip" and "The Practice," along with Adam's studies, offer priceless insights into understanding the dynamics of progress and habitual achievement. By acknowledging The Dip, embracing consistency, challenging, then replacing negative habits, and seeking continuous learning, we will navigate the taxing periods and achieve excellence in our pursuits. The journey is the destination (The action IS the juice). With mindfulness and grit we’ll overcome the ruts and plateaus while crafting a life of value and joyfulness.

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