The Plateau

Jan 9, 2022

As I sat down to write my goals for this year, I came to the realization that I build them by reverting to prior year goals with small adjustments.  As an example, I looked at miles cycled this past year and added or subtracted based on events I plan to participate in.

It seems my goals should match up with where I am headed, yet I find myself in a position where I don’t have a clear definition of what success looks like for me.

Try and define success for yourself.  It is not as obvious as you may think!

If you can’t define success, it is hard to develop a path and build goals that align with your definition.

For many, wealth is how they define success yet once they attain their monetary goal it becomes unimportant.  When Rockefeller was asked how much money it would take to satisfy him his reply was “just a little bit more”.

Power, wealth, and achievements are all goals, yet it seems that acquiring them does not guarantee contentment.

Success can be defined for many as knowing their purpose in life and learning and growing to reach their true potential.  This definition points to a journey rather than a destination.

It appears success is not something, we “arrive at” but rather something we can view as having “now” with a change in mindset.

Goals take time and energy.  Consequently, do you keep the purpose of your life front and center in terms of how you spend your time, talents, and energy?

In addition to answering questions such as “why am I here?” or “what am I searching?” as part of finding our purpose, we can start by seeing success as the journey itself.

One way of doing this is by revisiting how you view your goals.  What if that goal to learn a new sport or hobby wasn’t about being happy because you reached a certain stage or level but rather appreciation and enjoyment during those hours without improvement?

If you reflect on any of your current talents or mastered skills, you likely spent most of your time on a plateau practicing with the sense that you were getting nowhere.  All learning takes place in spurts.

This explains why crash diets or playing the short-term market does not work.  We inherently know that a new skill or losing weight requires patience and long-term effort.

In summary, we must find joy in regular practice where improvement happens sporadically.  If you only find joy in the wins, achievements, and the peaks of your goals, you are living for brief moments that fade quickly.

Following are some ways to find joy in the diligent effort of our goals:

·       Select goals where you can enjoy the routine.  If the routine doesn’t feed you, are you then able to be true to your purpose?

·       When you enjoy a good meal there isn’t a need for extrinsic reward or recognition. View your time and effort plodding along in the same manner.  The action and routine can be satisfying if you can find ways to savor it (like a delicious meal) without the need for outside praise.

·       Goals exist in the past and the future.  The more you can focus on the present, the more you will find ways to enjoy where you spend most of your time which is the plateau and not the peaks.

How will you find ways to enjoy the journey?


“To love the plateau is to love what is most essential and enduring in your life”.
“We are taught in countless ways to value the product, the prize, the climactic moment.  But even after the we’ve just caught the winning pass in the Superbowl, there is tomorrow and tomorrow.  If our life is a good one, a life of mastery, most of it will be spent on the plateau”

George Leonard

Karl Choltus

Deep thinking Canadian sharing thoughts created in the shower.