Do you ever feel like you've hit a plateau? Like you've hit a hump you can't get over, run into a blockage you just can't dismantle - reached your limit, and gone as far as you can go? Do you wonder if, maybe, that dream you have, that real life that you are creating, is, in fact, beyond you?
I felt like that just this last week.
But, as uncomfortable as it makes me feel to admit that - after all, I'm supposed to be a bullet-proof, resolute, pioneering, transformational, revolutionary adventurer, right? - it's inevitable that us adventurous-pioneering-types will have doubts, at least from time-to-time. And that's just fine.
It's just fine because, not always, but more often than not, these things - the blockages, humps, plateaux, and the doubts they create - will pass, and you will break through to the other side. You just need to know how to navigate that path.
This week, as I was grappling with my doubts, I was reminded of a lesson in how to navigate that path, that I learned whilst running on the treadmill (as you’ll know by now, I learn most of my best lessons while taking exercise of one form or another!).
Several years ago, when I first went back to the gym, I set myself a pace and distance target for my running; and I’d been making reasonable progress towards it. But then I got stuck. I hit a hump - a distance and pace that I just couldn't break through. I was way off my target, but, try as I might, each trip to the gym saw me fail at the same point. To say I was frustrated does not do justice to how that made me feel.
But then came the session when I broke through the blockage, and I've been pushing on ever since. So what changed?
My approach changed.
Instead of a tactic of 'get on the treadmill and run harder', I realised I needed a new game plan. So I got one.
The new game plan was nothing fancy, or innovative - just basic common sense, really. But, as simple as it was, the results it produced were stunning.
First, I did my research and made adjustments.
Once I stopped being all macho and testosterone-fuelled about my failure to break through this particular blockage, I explored what it was that was holding me back.
I looked at how I was approaching my time on the treadmill, and started to assess that against what I knew about running. I looked at my pre-workout nutrition, my mindset, even down to how tight my shoes were. I noticed things I could adjust, so I began to make changes. Not all at once, otherwise I wouldn't have known what was making the difference, but one thing at a time, so that I could assess the impact, if any, of each adjustment.
Eventually, I found just two or three things that made all the difference, and I started putting those things into action each time I hit the gym.
Then, I resolved to push myself, but not too much.
Upping my carbs, or changing my warm-up, weren't going to magically see me hit my targets and reach beyond this plateau. I knew that. But I also knew that goals and targets that seemed unachievable - like the one I had been pursuing - were counter-productive. So I scrapped my initial target, and set myself a new one. A more achievable one. Run for one minute longer at the same pace.
Each time I hit that target, I pushed it out another minute. Pretty soon, I'd pushed it out so many 'one minutes' that I reached my original time target. Then, using that same principle, I worked on my pace: run for the same length of time, but this time at 0.25kph faster. Gradually, one 0.25kph increment at a time, I reached my pace goal.
Finally, I got persistent.
When you get distracted - whether at the gym, or in your revolution - you can let things drop, and pretty soon find yourself resting on another plateau. So I got persistent. I maintained my gym frequency, my adjustments, and the increases to my targets.
Even when the last thing I wanted to do was hit the treadmill, I did it anyway. I persisted. And it paid off.
And so it can be with my adventure into my real life, and also with yours.
It may seem uninspiring to go all analytical on the most exciting adventure you can ever take, but it’s necessary. And, out of that seemingly uninspiring necessity will flow a torrent of inspiration that will propel you with a pace and direction you can barely imagine.
Use your doubts to drive you deeper into the adventure of your real life - to give you the focus you need to analyse your approach. And then, out of that analysis, identify (and make) the adjustments you need to make, set new targets, and dig in and do the work, even when you don't feel like it.
You see, when you follow that simple game plan, that plateau that stands in the way of your progress, that hump you can't get over, the blockage you just can't dismantle, the limit you’ve reached - it too will pass.