Push past the plateau

Feeling flat? Slumps and ruts in life, exercise, sales and relationships are bound to happen, apparently. Mathematician Hugh Thompson says “plateaus are normal, the human body is wired to adapt to things.”

Thompson and journalist Bob Sullivan co-wrote a book about how to foresee or pull out of a stall after many interviews with psychologists, athletes and scientists. They say avoid these four common traps if you’re in a slump:

  • Using the same technique that’s worked before – people respond best to novelty so try something fresh;
  • You don’t track progress – monitor your own trends to see a downturn as it begins;
  • You seek quick fixes – don’t choose the path that looks easy, be sure it’s the best one; and
  • Your timing is off – don’t squeeze things in based on your busy schedule, you must choose optimal timing for activities that require performance; e.g. asking a favour, running 10km, meeting a deadline. Most people suffer decision fatigue as the day wears on so it’s easier to put stuff off the later you leave it.

Their tip: Expect to tire of even those activities (and faces) you love, it’s normal. Be prepared to see it clearly as it happens and take action. Plateaus can be the reason you need to rev up a gear, not give in.