Two Solutions To Getting Past Intermediate Purgatory

The rate at which you learn any given subject or skill is rarely linear. When you begin learning a language progress is relatively quick. In a week or two you can go from speaking none of a foreign language, to saying hello, counting and asking people how they’re doing.

However, after a while progress in the language begins to slow. Why? Because you’re past the stage of beginner gains. To develop a higher level of fluency in the language you would have to learn complex grammar rules as well as words that may not be used very frequently.

Progress naturally slows in any pursuit once you’ve developed a solid grasp of the fundamentals. You can quickly learn the 20% of things that contribute to 80% of the results, but any further improvement requires you to develop proficiency in the 80% of things that produce 20% of your results.

Unfortunately, many people fail to remember this. As a result they become frustrated once they advance past their “beginner gains”. I was improving so quickly, what happened? Often this causes people to lose confidence in their practice routine and thus lowers their motivation to adhere to their regime.

There’s two solutions you can apply to prevent this from happening in your life.

Track Your Progress.

At this point in my career it’s difficult for me to see improvement in my juggling on a day to day basis. Thus it’s easy for me to feel as if I’m not improving. My remedy for this, however, is to watch juggling videos from several months ago and doing so always reminds me that I’m actually progressing.

I’d recommend you adopt a similar practice. If you’re trying to become a better runner record your times. If you’re trying to become a better speaker record videos of your speeches.

Tracking your progress over extended periods of time will do one of two things. It’ll remind you that you’re improving even if it’s difficult for you to perceive that improvement. Or, it’ll reveal to you that you’re not improving and need to change the way you pursue improvement.

Either is a massively beneficial insight, and thus makes tracking your progress one of the most important practices in regards to your practice and pursuit for improvement.

Change Your Expectations

I see a lot of people who try to improve their social skills getting butt hurt. I tried to talk to this girl, but she blew me off. I was hanging with my bros today and I was being a “beta male” blah blah blah.

It’s understandable because everybody wants to be “The Man” right now, but nobody wants to put in the work, and go through the challenges inevitable in becoming “The Man”.

Unfortunately, there’s no skipping ahead. You’ll never wake up one day magically transformed into the man you’ve always wanted to be, and having the social life you’ve always desired.

So, though their complaining is understandable I’d like to recommend you a different approach. Make taking action your only criteria of success. Focus on the process and you’ll find that this is what leads to making the greatest progress.

This applies especially in socializing as it’s one of the most process-oriented pursuits, but it’s also applicable to any other field as well.


Before I shoot out I just wanted to give a shout out to my buddy Huan Nguyen. His post yesterday sparked the idea for this post. If you enjoyed today’s post his blog would be right up your alley as well.

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