The Beauty of Standstills

Sometimes, things develop fluently and effortlessly. In other times, everything seems to be stuck – despite all efforts. Why is development to unpredictable, and what does George Leonard mean when he talks about “loving the plateau”?

The Plateau

We have all been there! After putting everything into a project, a new skill, or our career, suddenly comes stagnation. It can be frustrating, and, in down-times, we often even wonder whether to quit. But hitting a plateau is a good sign! It is the final hesitation; a preparation for the next leap.

Have you ever noticed that toddlers always turn sick when they need a break? It seems like their body forces them to slow down. Yet, as soon as they regain energy, they suddenly make their first steps, start to speak or climb a new tree. Development needs a moment of deceleration to solidify the status quo and prepare for something new.

Taking a break!

The same principle happens when we are working towards our goals. To guarantee progress, it is essential to allow space, put the pencil aside sometimes, and lean back. Muscles need time to recover, so does your creative project, your career, or your personal improvement. But if you believe in your mission, let it happen without giving up just one moment too early.

…to carry on.

The challenge is to identify plateaus as such for embracing them then. Once you do, you can be sure to thrive again soon! Gail McMeekin sums it up nicely when she says: “Creativity demands that you trust and stay on the path, despite any obstacles. The good news is that you can.”

In the meantime, here are three things to do during a plateau:

1. Treat yourself

Be kind to yourself! Sleep in, work out, eat well, go into nature, enjoy long movie nights! Plateaus are the perfect moment to recharge your batteries for having that extra drive when things pick up again! 

2. Do something new 

Switch your focus to something you have never done before: Attend a pottery workshop, learn a new language, or build a bird house. These random, new experiences will not only be highly refreshing, they also boost your creativity. Any new skill works as a valuable building-block for innovating later on.  

3. Meet people

Plateaus are also a great time to catch up with friends, make new ones or look after forgotten contacts. Now is the time to solidify and extend your network. While doing this, any exchange also brings you new insights and ideas. 

So, the next time you hit a standstill:

Stay positive and focused!