I had another epiphany while trying to practice my guitar the other day. I had hit another one of those plateaus that are great at the beginning, but get pretty frustrating when they become apparent. It struck me all of a sudden that my progress wasn’t the only thing that was hitting a plateau, but the effort I was putting into it had plateaued as well. You see, I’d practiced to a point where I had reached a goal of being able to do something I hadn’t been able to previously do. The problem was that my effort level had subconsciously adjusted down when I attained this goal. Is this human nature?
It does seem like this is a common pattern across a range of human endeavors. We strive for some goal and then rest on our laurels after we’ve accomplished it. Then we remain somewhat stagnant (in terms of accomplishment) for some period of time or even forever. Perhaps we’ve worked hard to get through our schooling and then gotten a great job with a large corporation. Once we get there, though, we continue to work pretty hard at doing well at this job. However, that tremendous effort we put in to get there in the first place is missing. Is this the difference between moderate success and great success?
To get past that plateau point takes another huge push of effort. We should really feel the effort, the struggle. It’s quite like the concept of no pain, no gain in physical exercise. Many people misunderstand this to mean that it should be painful. The real point is that it should be difficult. There should be a perception of stretching beyond the level you’re used to. This is often an uncomfortable feeling in some ways, at least at first.
If you’re wondering why you’re not making progress towards your various goals, it could be because your level of effort has leveled off. Take time to examine how much you’re putting into the important things you want to accomplish. Remember that it’s not just the amount of time or money that you contribute, but the amount of intensity. The very most important element of your eventual success at any goal is your own passion. The more of this essential component of your very self that goes in, the more success will come out of it.