We’ve all been there. That time when you’ve reached a certain point, a plateau. A point in life where it feels like you are stagnating. Not going anywhere. That nothing is changing. You and your life are standing still.
But I have bad news for anyone in that position. If you feel you are stagnating. The situation is much worse than that.
Don’t worry too much though the good news is never too far away.
A quick Google search will tell you that to stagnate is to ‘cease developing; become inactive or dull’. The definition in the Cambridge English dictionary is ‘to stay the same or not grow or develop’.
The term can be applied to liquid and air. For water and air the Cambridge dictionary adds that it is when it does ‘not move or flow, often resulting in it becoming dirty’.
So water can stagnate, air can stagnate. Thing is, I don’t think people can.
I think for us the word stagnate is only that, a word in a dictionary. For when a person can be said to be stagnating they are in actual fact degrading. Their quality is being spoiled, even destroyed. Just like that water, they are going off, becoming less. If everything else is still moving around you, and you are at a standstill, then you are getting left behind. If you are ‘inactive or dull’ your world will feel that way also.
I thought I was stagnating once. In my marriage, in my work, in my life, and for many years. I see now I wasn’t. I was degrading. Everything else was still moving around me and whilst I thought I was just at a perpetual standstill. I was actually getting worse, my situation was getting worse. I was getting left behind by those around me.
I didn’t see it then. The ongoing changes were miniscule, almost imperceptible. Through my stagnate eyes nothing was changing. But they were. My ‘wife’ was falling out of love with me. My work was never satisfying and never would be. In life I always felt terribly unhappy, always carrying a sadness, a frustration, even anger. If I was that water? I’d be dirty. My worth had lessened. My quality reduced.
One of the books I’ve been listening to recently talks about the compound effect. (The Compound Effect: Jumpstart your income, your life, your success. By Darren Hardy). It talks about how small actions can be compounded over time and grow into something bigger. I think the reverse is also true. Small inaction over time can be compounded into something much bigger and much worse. You don’t want that. Believe me.
I would argue that stagnation for a person doesn’t exist. Over time you are getting closer to death, your body is wearing down. You are breaking down, being degraded. And that’s only physically. You certainly aren’t standing still no matter how little you are doing.
If I have learned one thing from the past 20 years it is that inaction, a lack of movement or growth, doesn’t just stop you from going anywhere. It actually takes you backwards, downwards, into an abyss of your own making.
I did say at the start there was good news. Actually its great news. All of this can be prevented. It’s possible to stop yourself from ever being in this position. And if you are? It is equally possible to get yourself out of it.
It’s quite simple really. All it takes is movement, growth, forward momentum. It’s as simple as continuing to find yourself new challenges, giving yourself goals (If you have none already). You want to know the best way forward? Look towards your fears. Finding and facing them will certainly help you develop, keep you moving onwards, keep you growing. And those fears? You might just learn they were all in your mind anyway.
It all comes down to a simple choice. Do you want to stagnate and degrade? Or do you want to grow? Do you want life? Or do you want death?
It might not be an easy life. But that death? It will be a long, drawn-out affair, filled with negativity and heartache. I know which one I choose. What about you?