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What is the secret to never-ending improvement?

If you’ve ever started to play a new sport, lose weight, or learn to play an instrument, you know that progress, sadly, isn’t linear. When you start learning or doing something new, you see major results in little time. You’re growing and growing and then, suddenly — BAM — you plateau. What happened to your continuous improvement? You can’t get to the next step, let alone the next level. Many of us give up, but if you understand the training effect, you’ll know how to channel setbacks to push you farther.

Here we’ll cover what really happens when you face a setback and how you can keep going instead of giving up. Tony Robbins calls it The Training Effect.

Progress and the newness effect: Huge growth

When you start something new, it feels great. Sure, you’re making mistakes, but now you can hit the ball with your tennis racket or play a simple song on your new instrument. Everything you do feels like continuous improvement. You’ve shot up in capacity and can’t wait to get better, right?

But then comes a plateau. Instead of rapid progress, it feels like you’ll never get better. You might even start getting worse. You dropped 15 pounds, but can’t get rid of the next 10. You’ve got a solid forehand on the tennis court, but you can never get your backhand to work quite right. Frustrating, right?

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Plateaus and setbacks, pain and angst

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At this point, some people might say it’s time to quit. Why should they keep going if they’ll never make any progress again? Maybe continuous improvement is a myth. This is because when we succeed, we often celebrate; however, when we fail, we start to question everything.

It’s important to remember that plateaus are always part of the training process. You think that pro athletes or musicians have never had this happen to them? Of course they have. But instead of being mad at themselves or giving up, they recognize this stage as just another stop along their upwards trajectory.

Stimulus and recommitment

Instead of giving up when things get hard, dig in instead. A setback can be the stimulus to re-energize your commitment to your ultimate goal. This is what continuous improvement is really about. Once you’ve come to understand that setbacks are just a natural part of the training process, you can channel the pain and frustration. It’ll make you work harder, and you’ll keep progressing.

Of course, getting back on track is tough. That’s why you need something or someone to break your pattern of pain and doubt. An event or quality coach are great ways to remind you of your goals and get you back in the game.

Renewed commitment, renewed results

Now, recommitted to your goal, you can once again become immersed and dedicated. You’ll experience renewed energy, partly because plateaus are a kind of resting point. Your new surge will once again make for huge growth — those pounds fall away, that backhand now surpasses your forehand shot, you’re playing your favorite song like a pro.

Then, of course, you’re going to hit another plateau. But you’re ready for it this time. It’s part of your continuous improvement plan. So when that little voice tells you it’s time to give up, you can reply that you’re already at a higher level than the last time. If you think of your progress as a graph, even though there are some valleys, the peaks continue to get higher and higher.

Understanding the cycle for continuous growth

The training effect lets you keep going because instead of being helpless, you understand the nature of growth. You’ll experience immersion and achievement, then a setback. Bring in some coaching and soon you’re back on track and immersed once again. What’s awesome is that every time this happens, you get stronger and your results also get better.

Just like with physical training, the more you repeat something, the better you get. Think of it as building dedication muscles. Since you’ve done this before, you know you can do it again – especially with the help of a great coach for inspiration to keep going when things get tough.

What goal do you want to achieve? What skill have you been meaning to master? By understanding the 3 pillars of progress and the training effect, you’ll be ready to take on whatever challenge you choose.

Which skill will you master next?

Take advantage of a free 30-minute results coaching session with one of Tony Robbins’ Results Coaches.