The 4 Mini-Epiphanies That Will Stop Your Life From Plateauing

#2 — Someone will always be better than you at something.

Max Phillips
Jan 11 · 5 min read
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Photo by Fernando Jorge on Unsplash

Life is an endless stream of copy and pasted days.

In the UK, the government recently announced the third in a trilogy of lockdowns. As usual, I will be waking up, writing, exercising, and sleeping. All without leaving the house.

Yet, despite this, I don’t feel my life is plateauing. My goals are changing, and my attitude toward work continues to glow. While this is a combination of many things, it originates from a few realizations, or as I like to call them:


#1 — Habits Originate From Hobbies

When you enjoy something, you will naturally want to learn more about it.

Habits, on the other hand, can be frustrating. When focusing exclusively on habits, you worry about how long they take to last. Health psychology researcher Phillippa Lally found that, on average, 66 days to form a new habit (although it can range from 18–254 days depending on the person).

With hobbies, you don’t need to worry about that.

Hobbies are something you do because you want to. How long they take to become an integral part of your life is of no concern. The activity itself is the reward.

When I first started out writing, the prospect of working for myself is what drove me. Of course, I didn’t see immediate success and quit for a few months.

Slowly but surely, I picked it up again. I made sure I wrote something every day, whether it be 100 words or 1000. I rewarded myself for the small things — such as completing an article and getting published for the first time.

And then:

It hit me.
I was hooked.

What started as something I “probably should be doing” became something I made time for. I liked writing, so I did it every day. Eventually, my part-time job was getting in the way, and I quit.

Now, it’s a habit. Not just the writing either — the headline creation and content consumption have also become second nature.

It all started when I looked to make writing a hobby. I firmly believe that if you want something to last a lifetime, make it fun.

#2 — Someone Will Always Be Better Than You at Something

“Records are made to be broken.”

A record will be set, and it will be broken.

Someone will be the best, and someone else will eventually prove to be better.

Holding on to the idea of “being the best” can inadvertently be your downfall.

An example of this is in a German sci-fi show called Dark, on Netflix (which you absolutely should watch). It’s two main characters, Jonas and Martha, are stuck in a never-ending time-travel loop. They both think they are trying to break free, but their actions are what causes it.

It’s a constant plateau.

They are both unwilling to give up on what they want, even if it would benefit them. If you can’t give up on the idea of being the best, then you’re going to hamper your progress.

Moving on enables you to shake things up and break free of a plateau.

You can harbor a desire to be the best, but it doesn’t matter if you are, just as long as you work harder than you ever have done before.

#3 — Your Goals Are Too Broad

By now, you’ve probably set out your New Year’s Resolutions. For example, you may have told yourself:

  • “This year, I’m going to get fit.”

What exactly does that entail? You could be strong but can’t run upstairs without being out of breath. You could go on a run four days a week but eat junk food.

The inability to downsize your goals puts them out of reach.

Initially, my goal for this year was this:

  • “Get in the best shape of my life.”

Fabulous. What does that entail? I want a six-pack, a good layer of cardiovascular fitness, and to get below 10% body fat—the more specific, the better.

In Atomic Habits, James Clear says you should start small. On his website, he gives an example:

“Rather than starting with 50 pushups per day, start with 5 pushups per day.”

Small steps over time lead to significant gains. When you think smaller, it affects how you approach any situation. For example, if you are in great shape, you may fall off the wagon and miss a few sessions.

You’ve become complacent.

However, because you don’t think too big, you know all it takes to break free of this potential plateau is simple. As James Clear says:

“Never miss twice.”

Get back on track as soon as possible.

#4 — Moving Is the Most Important Daily Activity There Is

When I worked in retail, I would often yearn for a seat.

Now, I’m sat down all day, and I make sure I stand up every 25 minutes. When you move, you’re dragging your body out of a plateau. I’ve often found that creativity sparks into life when I move, hence why my notes app was filled with ideas when I worked in a shop.

The next time you’re staring blankly at your work, getting angry as you can’t move past the problem, do something for me:

Get up.

If you want to take it a step further, do some squats or press-ups. This helps clear your mind, allowing creativity to purr. According to Psychology Today, “spontaneous, undirected thinking is creative and occurs more readily when you move.”

Exerting your emotions into a bit of exercise, even if it’s a small amount, adds another barrier between you and a potential mistake. Moving saves you from falling victim to your emotions and frees up your mind for more creative thinking.

Your “a-ha!” moment awaits you.

Your Lightbulb Moment Is Around the Corner

Over the years, I’ve hit many plateaus. My fitness has felt stagnant countless times, and my career progress was non-existent after university.

To avoid this, you need your lightbulb moment. A small thought that jars your mindset and moves you from stasis to action.

You need one of these mini-epiphanies I’ve covered in the article:

  • Starting a hobby will lead to an increased desire to learn. Over time, and without you knowing, it will turn into a habit.
  • Recognizing there will always be someone better than you at something breaks you free from the shackles of perfectionism and enables you to move on.
  • Minimizing your goals allows you to make everything more attainable, encouraging you to take baby steps towards colossal success.
  • Understanding the importance of movement gives you more control over your output, as you recognize that sometimes you need to move out of a plateau physically.

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Max Phillips

Written by

22 | Self-improvement, productivity and creativity tips | Get in touch —

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment. Join 150,000+ others making the climb on one of the fastest-growing pubs on Medium.

Max Phillips

Written by

22 | Self-improvement, productivity and creativity tips | Get in touch —

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment. Join 150,000+ others making the climb on one of the fastest-growing pubs on Medium.

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