It’s Not All Uphill

by Michael Plank

Seth Godin wrote a great book called The Dip. It talks about the fact that anything worth doing – anything that takes effort – will not be a linear progression. When you first start, everything will go great, but there will come a point where the effort and the results don’t seem like they work together the way they should. This is “the dip,” and this is where most people quit things. For actors, the dip is endless strings of auditions where they don’t get the part. For doctors, it might be year 2 of medical school. For cooks, it’s year 1 of the restaurant they opened. The dip is the part where you’re still working really hard, but things seem to either stall or get worse. It’s the part where “the honeymoon is over,” and you realize that it’s not all roses.

But the dip is usually not a plateau, and it’s usually not a dead end. It’s just what it’s called – a dip – before you come out of it and things start moving up again.

The dip is A PERFECTLY APPROPRIATE PLACE to quit things. There are loads of things I’ve tried that were fun, and then I hit the dip and realized that I was not willing to do the effort it would take to get through the dip and out the other side. This is why I don’t practice the piano anymore, or study French, or do carpentry. It’s not because I think it’s impossible for me to get better, it’s because I know what kind of effort is required to get better, and I also know that I’m not willing to go through the effort to get better at those things if I’m not seeing the results of those efforts.

But there are plenty of places where I’ve hit that dip and have been willing to push through. Because I know that on the other side of that dip is the next big rise in results. So I still do CrossFit, after almost 13 years (there have been multiple dips on that journey!). I still bowhunt after 13 years. I’m still married after 12 years. I’m still parenting. We’re still running our gym. All of those things have had dips (sometimes more than one). And all of them have had massive improvements, massive results, and massive rewards on the other side of those dips.

As bad as we want it to be the case, progress is not linear. But if you know that going in, it makes it a lot easier to make it through the dip. When you hit the dip in your fitness journey (and if you’re reading this, you either have hit it, or you will hit it), just hang tight. Because a) it’s totally normal. And b) I promise that it’s better on the other side.