If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. - Bruce Lee
I think you could argue that plateaus are one of the toughest opponents when training martial arts, losing weight, or strength training. I have seen many students get stuck on a plateau and give up. You are training consistently, doing everything that you should be doing, but you feel like you just hit a wall. No matter how hard you try, you feel like you aren't improving.
This can happen off the mat as well. People hit plateaus in their jobs, in their diets, and even in their relationships. Have you ever felt stuck in the same place at your job? Do you feel like you aren't moving forward anymore? What about with your diet or weight loss? Is there a number on the scale that you just can't seem to pass? And in your relationships? Do you ever feel like you and the other person just aren't growing together anymore? Maybe you are just bored?
The key to getting past any plateau is remembering that it is only a plateau. It is not a wall. You will get past it. Let's say you've been stuck in a rut with your training, and one night you just feel like staying home. I promise you this will not get you past the plateau! It's funny how the brain works. When things get difficult, we want to give up. Never give up on a plateau! Sit for a second and consider all of the benefits that you will get by persevering, and then make the choice to get up and go. (If you haven't read the post on choices - go here)
If you hit a plateau in your career, the first step to getting through it is to recognize it. The solution may be a career change for some, but for others it is not. You may need to reassess your goals, objectives, and what you want out of your job. I've talked to many people that say once they changed their outlook on their job, the feeling of being on a plateau disappeared. The hard truth is that in some jobs the plateau may be moving up the ladder, and that may take a good 20 years or so! But for many people that is ok. You have to sit down and ask what you want out of your job. If the answer is family stability, a stable paycheck and health insurance than the plateau may not matter.
The divorce rate in the United States is over 50%, and I think that plateaus are a huge factor here. My father told me growing up that when looking at a relationship, you have to remember that some things will occur no matter what person you are with. Never leave the person you are with over something that will happen in your next relationship too. I don't like to compare people to objects, but the analogy of a new car is perfect here. Your new car isn't so new and exciting a year after you buy it, and 5 years down the road it could be very boring. The car may still be fully functional and look exactly the same as it did when you bought it new, but it isn't new so it is boring. This in essence is a plateau. If your solution is to go out and buy a new one now, just remember you are going to inevitably hit this same plateau with the next one!
So what do you do about it? In your relationships, I think the key is to always keep the initial spark alive. Treat every date like the first one. Be kind, listen, appreciate one another, and respect one another. In speaking to couples that have been together for 20, 30, 40, or 50 years, these are the keys.
With your training, you just have to push through. Talk to your instructors. They will most likely have a different perspective on your plateau, and in many cases, have the directions you need to get through them.