Partial Plateau Syndrome

Published on April 12th, 2011
Man standing by a cliff

Quick thought experiment: If you had to push a boulder up to the top of a plateau, would you do it all at once? A little at a time? Unless you're doing it for the exercise or for the sheer joy of repetitiveness, you're probably going to do it all at once because if you stop even just 10 feet short, mother nature (through wind, rain, and good ole fashion gravity) will likely push the boulder back down the slope and eliminate all your previous effort. Moral of the story: better finish the job or don't bother starting until you know you can take it to the logical end.

Obvious? Yes, but only in this clearly defined example. The reality for me is that for many of my goals/hobbies/wishes/skills/dreams/etc, I find myself pushing up many boulders in different locations with the hope that they'll be waiting for me when I return. And I'm always sad to find them back at the bottom with no signs of progress.

It's trickly because we rarely see the landscape clearly. Sure I'll practice italian for a few days this week. But then next week I'll be tinkering with my camera and trying to take some sweet photos. 3 months and many interests later, I can't even remember what Arrivederci means and my photos are so-so stills.

Plateaus are mostly binary

You're either on the top, on the bottom, or actively moving between these endpoints. And logically and intellectually we should all know that its more rewarding to get to the top of one than only get halfway up several. I call this the partial plateau syndrome to remind myself, before chasing the next thing that captures my attention, that I need to stick with something for at least 30 days or till a well defined completion date or benchmark if it truly matters to me.

This is no easy feat as I enjoy and love exploring so many things, but I'm tired of starting from scratch. So this month's 30 day goal for me is to read and try and internalize the first of The Four Agreements. I'm only 20 days (actually started in March), but it's already starting to sink in. The trap would be to claim I got it and I'm ready to move on. But in reflecting on other moments where I had a similar feeling, I know I must push forward until I'm absolutely certain I have it and that it is a lasting change. I need to be sure I'm on the top of this plateau and not even within site of the edge.

And you?

Where in life are you starting from the bottom over and over again. And how could your life change by getting just ONE important goal/wish/dream/boulder up to the next level? How are you going to make that happen? And do you have the discipline for 30+ consecutive days? I'm still working on the last myself.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, can I ask you for a favor?

I would like the opportunity to connect with you on an ongoing basis with the intention that I continue to provide you with valuable information and insights to help transform your life personally and professionally. To that end, it would mean a lot to me if you performed one or more of the following.

  1. Sign up for my newsletter to get new articles sent right to your inbox.
  2. Buy my book, Winning the Lottery Within.
  3. Follow me on Twitter or connect with me on LinkedIn. Don't forget to say hi!
  4. Contact me to setup a free, 15-minute consultation.
  5. Share this article with anyone that might benefit from it.

Thanks again for your time and attention! It means the world to me to know that you gave me this opportunity to connect with you.

About Rick Manelius

Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.