"My life is boring," complains one 47-year-old man. "Every morning, I get up and go to work and come home. When I get home, it's the same old routine - I read the paper, eat supper, do some work, watch TV and go to bed. Then I get up and I go to work again." "Work used to be exciting - but now I've gone as far as I'm going to go.
What am I going to do with the rest of my life? I hate the thought that it's going to be like this forever."
This man is plateaued - not going anywhere - and he is feeling trapped. He doesn't know how to break out of his rut and he is afraid. But if he can accept the fact that he is at the end of a phase, he is in a position to begin a new one. And what he stands to gain is the rest of his life. For many of us, work is the basis of our identity and self-esteem - which is fine as long as we are succssful. But promotions do eventually end, sometimes provoking a terrible sense of failure.
Mastery of the work may also bring feelings of tedium; dentists tire of filling molars, teachers become bored with teaching seven-year-olds, lawyers get weary of divorce. When this happens, there is a good chance of feeling like the man I've just described.
Although different strategies work for different people, there are courses of action that can take us all off that plateau.