How to Get Over Plateaus

How to NOT Fail When You Hit a Plateau

Imagine you’re going on a road trip.

It starts strong in the garage and you have goosebumps of anticipation. But when you’re driving along, the road is blocked with construction.

Most people would find a way around the road block.

This can be applied to getting stuck in life– half the time, we act like we’ve fallen off a cliff, when we just need a detour around the road block.

For example, one reader, Adrianne’s goal is to grow her pre-K music program. This means getting the word out to new parents (here’s a roadmap for getting new students).

She might fall into a slump when several students leave her program and potential parents don’t show up. It feels like none of her efforts work and nothing goes ‘right.’

If she tries to plow through, she might burn out. :(

So this is what to do before we get stuck:

Plan for plateaus.

Planning for plateaus– getting detours– makes being stuck okay, because it’s part of your game plan. Don’t feel guilty; this is the way to get back on track.

Although you can get stuck less often in the same places, getting stuck is part of life. If you don’t get stuck, then you’re not moving. People who are apathetic don’t get stuck because they are already in a state of stuck.

Let’s say Adrianne’s detour is visiting the cupcake shop. When she falls into a plateau, she can lick icing at the cupcake shop without feeling guilty, and get back on her game when she’s ready.

The power of pattern interrupting

When it feels impossible, pattern interrupting is one way to get back into the game: Give yourself a break. Do something else entirely different for at least 10 minutes– that’s a pattern interrupt.

Mixing up your routine gives you new ideas.

Here are 4 ways to break free (aka what to do when you’re stuck, to pattern interrupt):

Talk to the opposite letter

People who interact with the world differently from you will have new perspectives and ideas.

Myers-Briggs personality types (MBTI) are comprised of 4 characteristics; we’re interested in the last because it’s the only characteristic visible to others.

Figure out if you have Judging or Perceiving in your Myers-Briggs personality type, then find friends who are the opposite. (You probably know this about your friends anyways.)

Chat them up; you’ll be surprised at what you find. Having the opposite letter for Structure means they approach situations differently and notice what you don’t necessarily see at first.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll get a sparkly new idea that helps you write the next New York Times best-seller.

Read words that aren’t in bullet points.

A well-written blog shows how someone thinks, so reading a good blog will give you new perspectives. Or at least take your mind off the trouble. My blog isn’t really bullet-pointed, just saying.


I’ve been sucked into a video blogging (vlogging) vortex.

I’m engaged in one-sided conversations with people who talk to cameras. A vlogger feels like a friend who shares the good stuff, except I’m not pressured to provide satisfying reactions. FYI, this means you could be one-sided friends with MTV award winners.

Find someone whose personality is interesting to you. This is turning into shopping for a friend-without-strings.

Here are a few people I like:

Grace Helbig is awkwardly funny (Forbes likes her too) and Olan Rogers tells awesome stories (come on, tell me you didn’t laugh at this). Zoella is indecently cute, TomSka’s videos are awkwardly artistic, and Joey Graceffa finds something upbeat to talk about everyday. Chris Kendall shoots funny sketches as well. If you want to brush up on career skills, Ramit Sethi and Marie Forleo also have good videos.

Drop the sweat. 

Studies show that exercise surges happy chemicals into your brain. Also, it could help you get a better posture, which means more confidence.

Choose one workout to do. Here’s Tara Stiles’s core strength yoga session (~15 minutes) to get the heat going, and the entire body stretch yoga session (~15 minutes) to cool down. She shows the sequence and you’ll do it for however long you like.

The classic example of getting stuck in the music studio is when you practice the same passage for 2 hours without improvement.

Research is showing that practice might not make perfect, after all.

So don’t feel guilty about taking a break.

What do YOU like to do when you feel stuck? Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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