Running away from problems you can't understand
Decision Making

Why Are You Sprinting Into Walls?

May 30, 2019

It’s weird when you have that moment.  You’ve been working on a project or a goal or a task for a while, and you make progress through what you think manifests itself as improvement.  You can see the progress. “This isn’t so hard,” you think to yourself, as you prep plans on becoming a professional at whatever new goal you just decided to set out on.  

You then reach a certain point and it starts to get more difficult, and you feel your way around, but slide back down a bit on the scale.  You think, no worries, just an off day. The next day you come back and, surprise surprise; you’re actually worse than the day before.  What the hell just happened?  

Now you’re angry.  How could I possibly have gotten worse? You throw yourself at the problem half remembering all of the techniques and keys to success that have gotten you to where you are.  The sheer force you exert could knock down a small building. You’re like a prisoner throwing your body against the cell wall: not going anywhere. Okay, you think, let’s take a day or two to think about the problem and what we learned, and come back fresh.

If only it were that easy.

You come back rested and with a clear head, but you find yourself back to where you were before.  What’s happening?

This took me too long to figure out but it’s the oldest psychological trick you play on yourself: if you face a problem and you just keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll get different results.  Yeah, obviously not.  

But I do it; you probably do it; most people at some point in their lives find themselves in this situation.  Why? Because you know what got you to that point, and once you find yourself on that lonely plateau of stunted progress, you think you can keep doing what you’ve been doing to get yourself off there.

The hardest challenge for you now; reinvent how you approach your problem.  Maybe you even have to turn around and get off the plateau completely. Humble yourself for a while and take the beginner’s approach where you learn techniques or build strengths you glossed over when you first started out on that project or building that skill.  

You’ll look foolish for a bit.  You’ll probably feel as if you’re wasting your time too.  But – if you turn around and stay on that plateau, sprinting for the next hill, you’ll find yourself back where you started.  In order to continue forward and push yourself to become the best version of yourself (or, at least, complete or move on to the next level of whatever you’re working on) you’ll have to have that moment of clarity where you just decide to step back, look at the problem as a whole, and stop slamming yourself into the wall.  

Come up with a plan to go around and up.  Learn from others who figured it out. But the most important part for you cannot be understated; actually realizing that you’re running into that wall, or Red Queening on that plateau, and coming to terms with it and deciding to make a change.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *