When you feel like you’re nearing the top of your growth curve, that’s when it’s time to start thinking about what you can switch up. This might mean testing a new strategy or taking on more responsibility. Or it might mean pursuing a new career path or an outside learning opportunity. Or perhaps it’s just switching to a new team to preserve your sense of engagement and continue challenging yourself.
A shift in strategy doesn’t always need to be drastic. But it does need to be deliberate.
Otherwise, things become too easy and too familiar within the confines of your comfort zone. And when you become trapped in a decline, it’s all too easy to cling to an expired identity and give away the progress you’ve made.
Much of life is knowing when to shift strategies — when to call it quits, when to stick it out, when to evolve your approach. If you can perfect this, you can bypass the decline phase altogether, and jump from one "learn + grow" period to the next. And this is what sets apart the top performers in every discipline.
It’s difficult to realize when you’re nearing the end of a growth phase. It requires first developing a deep sense of self-awareness and prioritizing room for reflection. This should be paired with experience — both personal and vicarious.
The usual signs are when you start to notice a decline in personal engagement and the meaning you find in the work. This signals that it’s time for a new approach.
Remember, you’re a human being. Emotion is an inherent part of your decisions. The best you can do is pause and create space for reflection. The more dispassionate you are in coming to a decision, the more you should trust it.
For example, when you’re pissed off at a manager, that’s not the time to make abrupt decisions. Create space. Allow yourself to be upset for a few hours. After a week, when you’re less entrenched in that moment, you can see things for what they are and make a more rational decision.
When I feel a calm sense of it is what it is, I’m not upset, but I accept it’s time for a change that’s when I know it’s time to switch things up and test a new strategy. When I’m in an emotional state — especially when I’m upset and playing through imaginary conversations in my head — that’s when I know I need to pause before making a decision on a potential leap.
It’s easy to get locked into a rigid thought process with a single strategy if you stick to the map without ever looking up. But when you stop reaching for absolutes, you’re able to embrace the motion inherent to life. Everything is fluid.
The best thing you can hope to do is remain in harmony with your own sense of authenticity and the motion that defines life. By embracing this, you’re able to better challenge yourself, embrace a growth mindset, and create meaning.
If you want to create your best work and make a meaningful difference in the world, you’re going to have to grow to get there. This comes from timing your leaps and finding the courage to reinvent yourself — especially when it feels uncomfortable, counterintuitive, and the world least expects it.
Bob Dylan’s determination to evolve as an artist and his refusal to accept what people expected of him helped him grow into one of the greatest songwriters of our era.
James Harden’s ability to reinvent himself every NBA off-season is what allowed him to go from the sixth man behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook is his early days with the Oklahoma City Thunder to an MVP and the cornerstone of a franchise.