Everyone has experienced a plateau.

It might go by other names: slow progress, languishing, stuck.

It seems like progress has stopped. More work doesn’t seem to be producing more results.

It might be a sport; your golf game, for example.

No matter how much time you spend at the driving range, you don’t seem to be improving.

It could be something at work; you can’t seem to make progress, despite spending hours on a project.

Or you realize you took the wrong direction, and have to start over.

Seth Godin calls it “The Dip”—the point where your effort doesn’t seem to be producing any reward, after an initial burst of energy and progress.

Graphic from Ben Nadel

There are a few things you can do to help push through:

Prepare for it: If you know it’s coming, it hurts less when it happens. Almost everything we do will have a tough period—a “Dip”—and planning for it helps us push through.

Bring some tools: A coach, a peer group, a mentor, a new framework—these are all tools you can bring in to provide a little jolt of energy and fresh perspective. Sometimes that’s enough to break through the plateau. Even if not, it often provides some much-needed confirmation that you’re on the right path.

Team up: Everything’s easier when you’re going through it with someone else. Try and get a teammate on board early, or find a group that’s going through something similar. A training group, or peers on a similar path at a similar stage.

It’s almost impossible to avoid a plateau when pursuing something new.

But if you prepare well, you can make it as painless as possible.