Plateauing

Day 127 Week 19 Q2 Monday, May 6, 2024

When you get to a high point with a decent view and are not hell-bent on getting even higher to yet another climax, then you may be plateauing, and this is not a bad place to be at all.  It is a place where the incremental work toward mastery, not that you should necessarily expect to get there, occurs.  You see, it takes a great deal of diminishing returns to get somewhere. For those of us addicted to the steep learning curves accompanying new endeavors, we can get to a point where the breakthroughs slow down, and progress resembles the Zenos Paradox, where you continue to get halfway there but not all of the way to the endpoint. 

No matter, it takes another 90 percent of the time to get the last 10 percent. Or, put another way, it takes twice as long to get there as you expect, and then you are still not there because once you complete something, you can imagine very many ways to improve it. Since you will never get anything as perfect as you can imagine, least of all yourself, you can reach a place where you know there is still plenty further to go, but the view is pretty good, and you are enjoying the plateau.

I can immediately tell you what is wrong with any project I complete and how to make it better, and this is not at all uncommon for creative outliers. On the other hand, it is worth taking some time to celebrate where you have gotten and not instantly plunge into the next not being done frame of mind. When you complete an entire project or just a milestone, it can be gratifying to stop and smell the coffee and appreciate where you have come from.

Since there is often no summit to attain, it is very worthwhile learning to appreciate intermediate gains because all gains are intermediate. By the way, some filmmakers do not like to watch the films they have completed, and musicians do not want to listen to the recordings they have completed for these very reasons. Whether they plunge into the next project or just take a break, in both cases, they do not spend time reviewing and evaluating their prior work. This is a shame because a great deal of learning comes from the review process, as when you are moving quickly, you do not know precisely what you are doing and forget some of the steps that you discover when you attempt to duplicate the process. 

Inserting some time between completion and review does increase your objectivity, and revisiting prior work often reveals new insights if you can resist criticizing it.

Spend some time on the plateau. It is not only relaxing but can also be developmental.