We all hit unexpected and even unwanted plateaus in life. We realize we have been stuck in the same spot for quite some time; on the same long, flat, plane. But remember, while a plateau is flat by definition, it is also very high up. All the climbing you did to get here is not gone, for it has taken you higher. All we can ever hope for in life is to continue to grow, as people, in our career, with our relationships and more. That’s why there is a fine art to riding out a plateau, and it starts by simply enjoying your view.
A LIFE PLATEAU
A life plateau is an ‘in-between’ moment. I remember when I finally was able to get over the sadness (and self-pity, at times) of losing everything, I considered myself numb for a while, and perhaps I was. But, I was in transition between sadness and rebirth — and I had to learn how to be happy again. Becoming happy again was a climb, and it’s a life-long one, a true climb.
TAKING A BREAK FROM THE CLIMB
Let’s stick with the mountainous terrain plateau for this analogy, as it is very applicable. If you were to scale an extremely tall mountain, you may not do it all in a day. Perhaps you would map out your route, planning to camp out on the flatter, plateaued areas during the evenings to rest.
You cannot do anything lengthy, precise and wonderful without some rest. If the mountain analogy doesn’t do it for you, let’s picture an elite athlete for a moment. Let’s go with Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. Following Super Bowl XLV, Rodgers hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy above his head. We saw a great quarterback taking home the title. What we didn’t see were the years he put in learning behind Brett Favre. We didn’t see the 5 a.m. practices or the games that were below freezing.
Life plateaus are just that, they are breaks or reprieves from your grinding. They are moments of silence in life, where the waves are no longer crashing. Where you’re not super high up, yet not very low down. You get to choose if you continue to climb or you head back down. Never forget: Not every moment can be glamorous or action packed, though that’s what we are taught to believe.
Though I use social media occasionally, it may be the culprit in this case. We see everyone’s peaks and believe that everyone around us is in the best shape, happier than ever, travels everywhere and has the perfect life — it’s the modern day white picket fence syndrome. Unfortunately, all we see when we visit social media is the best, hand-picked moments. We see the award ceremonies and weddings. We see the graduation and the birth of a child.
But what’s missing from that snippet in time is just that — the time it took to get there.
READ MORE > THE FINE ART OF LIVING IN THIS MOMENT
ALL GREAT THINGS TAKE TIME
It may be a cliche, but it’s ever so true: All of the best things in life take time. Giving another person or thing our time is the most valuable gift we can give. Even love takes time. As one of my favorite comedians Chris D’Elia so eloquently puts it, “that’s what love is — hanging out with someone for too long.” A memory, be it good or bad, is stamped into our minds via time spent with another.
Healing or overcoming are two of those great things in life that take time. What we don’t see on social media is the years of work that went into getting that promotion or the late-night walks and never-ending talks that came before that wedding invitation.
All we see is the climax. What isn’t pictured is the best part: the climb. The moments that aren’t amped up, that aren’t all smiles. They are the in-between times, when we are standing on a plateau and real life happens. So, spend less time focusing on the photo finish, and start to insert yourself back into the climb, back into real time.