Yesterday, my brother and I were chatting on the phone about this, that and the other thing, when he mentioned he’d just listened to the audiobook version of The Dip by Seth Godin. The Dip, according to Godin himself on Squidoo is as such: “Every new project (or job, or hobby, or company) starts out exciting and fun. Then it gets harder and less fun, until it hits a low point-really hard, and not much fun at all.” So people fall into the dip and it’s what they do when in that slump that accounts for whether they will eventually succeed or not.
I was reminded of a graph my high school band teacher, Mr. Hendee, drew us on the chalkboard when discussing progress of musicians both individually and as a group. He noted that progress was not always on the increase. That you progress, plateau, and then even sometimes dip before progressing again. There he was, 15 years ago in Wind Ensemble, pointing out the dip.
Anyway, when you’re in the dip, you have a few options: you can stick it out and eventually find yourself moving up again. Or you can turn tail and run (aka, quitting). But here’s the really interesting news. Quitting isn’t always the wrong choice. Sometimes a dip is never going to shoot up again, so you’re better off getting out and starting fresh somewhere else. However, persevering through the dip phase and making forward motion is the only way to succeed at whatever project you’ve embarked upon if it’s worth your time and energy, and success is possible.
Of course, then I started thinking about running. And really all exercise. And nutrition. Who hasn’t started a workout regimen with gusto only on day three to wonder what the hell they’re doing? Sometimes it takes longer…it might be playing soccer for two years on the same team only to realize you feel like you’re never getting any better. Or it’s being really healthy for years only to slowly creep back into bad eating habits and see your weight start to creep up. All these are dips. So what do you do about them? Well, if were to ask me, I’d say any exercise/nutrition dip can be saved from scrapping the project all together. You do have to make the effort to push through and fight your way back. Back into shape, or back into enjoying something, or back into your skinny jeans, but the dip isn’t a sign of failure. It’s a sign of needing to exert a little more mental time and energy.
I think even a single workout has the dip property of starting out fun and somewhere in the middle being irritating and not enjoyable. You could at that moment say “enough with this noise!” and walk home, but if you make yourself push through, you’ve just showed yourself that the dip needn’t hinder your choices, or your ability, or even your mindset. And I think that’s really important to know: keep on keeping on, and you’ll probably even enjoy the run (or swim. Or salad).