Ep 36: Make peace with the plateau

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A little encouragement as you go into the weekend. Sometimes life seems to level out and it’s hard to see how far you’ve come. You might be on a plateau right now but your curve is getting ready to move up!

Have a great weekend!

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes wherever you are! 

Full transcript 👇

Episode 36 Make peace with the plateau - Man on a long two lane road jumping in the air

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

“Why do you have to be world champion at everything?”

My husband asked me this question just a few years into our marriage. He noticed early on that I set the bar very high for myself in just about everything.

In those days, I latched on to something new like a little french bulldog with a bone.

I’ve never been an actual world champion at anything. Well, except maybe in the space between my two ears.

But I really like to try. My favorite place to be is at zero.

No skills, no history and everything to learn.

I love that steep learning curve.

But I’m not crazy about the plateau at the top of that curve.

There’s real work in the plateau.

And responsibility, too.

If you stay in something long enough, you’ll find the plateau.

  • New jobs plateau.
  • Relationships settle in.
  • Exciting new life adventures become regular routines.
  • Soft, fluffy, sweet-smelling puppies become dogs.

When you start something new, the gains are tremendous because you start with nothing. Any effort at all brings a change you can see. You’re moving up

There’s a lot of hope and excitement on the left side of that curve.

But you can’t escape the plateau. Without it there wouldn’t be a curve at all.

Who understands plateaus more than Olympic athletes?

We marvel at their dedication and commitment for the tiniest window of opportunity to achieve greatness.

What we see in their performance on the big day is the result of hard work and deliberate practice for an unbelievably long time.

What we don’t see is how these athletes have weathered those plateaus.

  • We don’t see how lowering a shoulder just a smidge changes the trajectory of a long jump. And how long it took to master that smidge.
  • Or how pushing through weeks of no real progress at all in a floor routine suddenly brings a breakthrough.

That stuff’s not Instagrammable.

The bigger story isn’t the 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.

It’s the 9,000 plus hours spent on the plateau.

The plateau is where character is formed.

It’s where you decide how far you go with this thing. And it’s where the gains are realized.

As you enter this weekend, give yourself props for each small gain you made this week.

Nothing is too small to plot on that curve.

Sure, you may look back and not be able to see the line trending up at all from here.

But it will if you keep going.

Have a great weekend! 😀

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at Lorimiller.me. You can catch Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Visit LoriMiller.me for info on how to subscribe.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


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Ep 30: Use Discipline to Find Inspiration

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How do you find inspiration on the days when you’re not feeling inspired? Many times we rely on external things to pump us up for our day.

But inspiration comes after the work. Disciplined action always precedes motivation.

Learn where to place your focus so you can inspire yourself.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes wherever you are! 

Full transcript

Some days are just uninspiring, aren’t they? If you’re working towards improving your life or meeting a new goal, then you are probably very focused on discipline, change and discovery.

But some days seem to contain exactly zero discipline, change and discovery. 😏

And that’s perfectly okay.

Not every day is supposed to look like a Forbes feature article.

We have access to millions of stories of achievement and motivation. There are some incredible people out there doing some amazing things.

Those stories are inspiring, no doubt.

But they’ve also conditioned us to believe that our own lives are somehow lacking if every day isn’t a grand adventure of some sort.

So we’re disappointed when we don’t feel like we conquered something at the end of the day.

But that’s not how a disciplined life works.

Discipline is about being a principled student (a disciple, if you will) of whatever it is you’re trying to become.

  • Do you want to be a world recognized chef?
    Then you must become a disciple of all of the time tested traditions of a world-class kitchen.
  • Do you want to develop a well-rounded yoga practice?
    Then you must submit yourself to explore multiple forms of yoga and learn from those with experience and wisdom.
  • Do you want to lead a more mindful and centered life?
    Then you must have the courage to acknowledge that there’s a better way than the frenetic, scattered life you’ve been living so far.

In order to master something, you have to find humility to submit yourself to the process.

Regardless of the outcome in every day.

This means still honoring the path you’re on even when you’re just not feeling it.

You become a disciple to the process.

What does it mean to be a disciple?

  • A disciple learns by applying what she’s gleaned from others wiser than her.
  • A disciple applies those principles no matter what the external circumstances may try to dictate.
  • A disciple looks past the raw emotions each day brings and chooses to focus on what she’s already decided for the future.
  • A disciple never loses her keen focus on the destination, even if the path to get there gets a bit crooked and rough.
  • A disciple passes on those same principles to others walking behind her to create more little awesome disciples.

Become a disciple of your own life.

Do the work that pushes back against you every day.

Learn to celebrate the process, not the progress.

Apply your focus and concentration to what’s present and right in front of you.

This is where you will find inspiration in your days.

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at Lorimiller.me. You can catch Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Visit Lori Miller.me for info on how to subscribe.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


Subscribe to the Be Well, Do Well newsletter

GET THE BE WELL DO WELL DIGEST!

Info and tips each week to help you improve and change your life!

Give yourself a Mental Health Moment every day!

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Amazon Alexa skill - Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller

Sometimes you need some encouragement right at the top of the day so you can stay focused on what will keep you energized and productive. 🌝

I’m excited to debut my Alexa skill, Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.

It’s a little shot in the arm to start your day.

Every day I’ll talk about small ways you can inject a bit of sanity in your day.

If you have an Amazon Echo you can enable Mental Health Moment in the Alexa store. You can also download the Alexa app on your phone or tablet and enable the skill there.

Check out all the details on my Amazon skill page.

Feel free to leave me a review. I’d love to know what you think! 🤔

Answers from the trail

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Road lined with trees

One of the advantages of having a few professional years under your belt is following the trail of your own actions and decisions.

Sometimes it can be validating to see where your head was in the right place.

Other times, it leaves you scratching your head, wondering how you missed so much that was so obvious.

There’s good data there if you allow yourself to mine it.

We leave breadcrumbs behind with every project, interaction and new venture.

We can go back and discover clues about how we view our work and how we really feel about our work.

That trail usually leads back to our early days in schooling, how we interacted with our classmates or early friends.

And how our parents or caregivers modeled authority to us.

  • Does your boss remind you of a parent? Consider how you respond to them.
  • Does your work environment mimic the playgrounds of your youth? You may see some familiar patterns and behaviors.
  • Maybe you look at your work as a challenge to be conquered, like a science project. Or just a problem to be solved and dealt with, like a math test.

Many of us move through the day in reactive mode, putting out fires we didn’t cause. We’re out of gas at the end of the day, but not sure exactly why.

How can you even think about changing the way you think about your work if you’re just trying to keep the embers from catching again?

You have to be the one to chart your new course.

Document your actions and decisions at work for a month.

Don’t judge it. Just write it down, warts and all.

At the end of the month, go back and read it. See what reveals itself. 

  • What worked?
  • What didn’t work?
  • What worked but singed your eyebrows in the process?
  • How did you respond to all of it?
  • How do you wish you had responded to some of it?

Patterns will jump out at you when you are removed from the immediacy and urgency of a specific circumstance or situation.

Now you know what to work on.

How to be a good listener

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Good listening skills are a must in any relationship. But what does being a good listener look like in real life?

Here are some simple tips to boost your listening game.

What do you want?

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What do you want? Seems like an easy enough question.

We want a new job or that great new boat we saw last weekend. But look past the stuff.

What do you really want?

I heard author Bob Goff speak a few weeks ago, and he asked the audience this question with effervescent conviction (to be fair, though, that’s kind of his thing). If you’re familiar with Bob, you’ll know he’s got a lock on what he wants.

His question threw me as I grabbed the arm of the person next to me and said to them, “I don’t know! I don’t think I know what I want!” 😱

This is a terrific way to free up a seat next to you. More armrest for me, just sayin.

“What do you really want” is a hard question if you haven’t really thought about what’s important to you. It’s still a hard question if you have thought about it.

When you know what you value in life you work hard to make reality match your vision.

Then Bob threw me over the edge with this one:

Decide what you want, then point the rest of your life, all the other stuff, toward that.

Genius!

Simplicity.

I had the whole seating section to myself at this point.

We don’t always do what we really want.

We can’t always articulate what we want in a way that drives us to make real changes. So when our lives get out of balance, our ability to tolerate incongruity overwhelms us.

It’s frustrating.

But if you let it, this discomfort can at least get you going.

You may have heard the story of the old dog and the farmer. It’s been rewritten more than a few times. This version comes from author Amanda Palmer.

“A farmer is sitting on his porch in a chair, hanging out.
A friend walks up to the porch to say hello, and hears an awful yelping, squealing sound coming from inside the house.
“What’s that terrifyin’ sound?” asks the friend.
“It’s my dog,” said the farmer. “He’s sittin’ on a nail.”
“Why doesn’t he just sit up and get off it?” asks the friend.
The farmer deliberates on this and replies:
“Doesn’t hurt enough yet.”

Getting up and moving your life toward your vision takes the discomfort out of focus and lets you lock in on what you need to do to change your life.

So how do you know what you want?

For starters, what you want isn’t what you don’t want.

Don’t define your values in terms of “A life where I don’t have to…

The goal is to move toward a tangible vision of what you want. No one ever got where they wanted to go by heading somewhere they didn’t want to go. Well, maybe Christopher Columbus, but whatever…

And your values are about you. Not what you’d like to see other people do.

A life where my brother…” No. Mind your own business. Your brother can tussle with his own values. This is about you.

Frame your values in ways that help you discover that picture of your life you’ve seen in your head since you were eight.

Picture it

This is the best part. Use all of your six senses (I’m assuming , of course, you can see dead people) to visualize yourself living and moving inside that picture.

Who do you talk to? Where do you go?

What does it feel like when you win at that thing? Who’s with you when you do?

What do you look like? What are you wearing (not in a creepy way)?

This is the movie version of your life where no one can tell you, “You can’t have that.”

Maybe you want your life to center on community, creativity, joy, spirituality, or simplicity. Or all of them.

There are no qualifiers or prerequisites. You get it all.

There’s sweet data there for you. Go get it.

Are you getting what you want?

Just show up

Sometimes all we are required to do is show up. This is hard to remember in a world where success is based on results and output and efficiency.

Showing up is what connects us and makes us human.

Results are not always the benchmark in mental health. You could be the greatest therapist in the world and your client could stay right where they are.

People move and change when they are ready. It has little to do with me, really, except to provide a safe space and a listening heart. I’m the facilitator, that’s all.

There is no “A game,” because it’s not about me.

If you’ve come from a performance environment this is hard to get used to. Progress in the mind is difficult to measure in any meaningful way. And even when you can measure it, you can’t even say it was because of something you did.

The line gets drawn back to the client because they did the work.

And on those frazzled days when it takes all your good effort just to show up, you find out later one comment you made struck a chord. You might not even remember it. You may have been trying to clarify something, not be prolific.

But there it is. A little breakthrough.

And you keep going, and you keep showing up.

#alwaysbegrowin’

What’s your story?

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What’s your story?

As any Game of Thrones fan will tell you, today’s stories (both fake and real) are powerful and shape attitudes. We root for, or vilify, our favorite characters. We vehemently discuss the ramifications of their decisions as if they were our own neighbors.

We binge on stories like Doritos at the end of a tough week.

But what about your story? Is it too simplistic to think of our lives as a story we tell ourselves?

And does that story make a difference in how you live your life? (Sorry, is that too many existential questions on a Monday?)

We all have a story. And we perform in our lives according to the story we tell ourselves.

Life is sometimes like an Encyclopedia Brown book. Do you remember this delightful series of children’s books?

Encyclopedia Brown was a super smart kid who operated his detective agency out of his parents’ garage and charged a whopping 25 cent fee for his super sleuthing services (this actually seems quite possible today).

After setting about his task of interviewing and gathering intelligence on a case, Encyclopedia Brown arrived at a critical decision point.

At the end of the story, you, the reader, were presented with Brown’s last clue and you, the reader, had to figure out the end of the story on your own. Seems fair. (You could easily flip to the back of the book for the answer, but I didn’t roll like that.)

The clues Encyclopedia Brown uncovered up to that point — and how you interpreted them — determined where you might take the story.

And if you’re little Lori in her little white reading chair by the west window and you’re not just flipping to the back of the book, you can discover a whole realm of new possibilities for the next part of the story.

If the only clues you leave for yourself in your story are negative, or maladaptive, thoughts and perceptions, then how will you advance your story in any meaningful way?

How do you expect that you will get to the end and go, “Ah-ha, yes, I knew it!”

I get it. Most of the time we want to focus on what’s not going right because it’s so tangible. You can feel the bad stuff pretty easily and with very little training.

Maybe those negative clues also remove some of our responsibility as the author of our story. My story stunk because I got bad clues, so yeah….

It’s true that you have no control over the series of events that enter your story. You don’t.

But you can decide 1) to decide something and 2) what decisions to make to keep the story going in a direction that benefits you. You always, always have that power.

If your story has some really painful and hurtful events, this is a lot harder to do, for sure. You have some back story work to do to get to a place where you can make healthy decisions.

But you still have the power to do those two things. Decide and keep going.

With the help of compassionate characters in your story, you can place those events into their rightful place in your narrative.

So, without looking at the back of the book, what will be your story?