So how do you move through the ratings
Firstly i think the ratings system is good, since i cannot imagine a better way to compare players. People want to play chess for many reasons, learning, fun, relaxation whatever.
And the best way to experience chess is against someone of roughly your own playing ability. So the best way to move up in the ratings is to select opponents slightly better than yourself. Since defeats are disheartening its probably best to not pick upon players that will often defeat you; its bad for your ego.
Next you want players slightly better than yourself so you are learning and experimenting and wins give a nice points return. But the central key is to WIN. This means as you progress you will face tougher opponents and those players will make fewer mistakes.
So you must aim to remove as many mistakes as possible from your own game. One loss against a lower rated opponent and you can lose a lot of ratings points, so you should aim to increase your play accuracy.
I have the computer analyse all my games and then roughtly play through them. I also add up the number of BLUNDERS and MISTAKES in my last 10 games. So lets say the computer says i blundered 6 times in my last 10 games. Now i know if i am improving or not since over time that blunder rate should go down to zero; hopefully.
Remember inaccuracies are irrelevant, the computer knows more than you and so its selected moves will be different, but what you can learn is from the Blunders and Mistakes scores in your last games.
And finally if you are busy or tired or distracted; do not play rated games, these games are about you improving your chess so unless oyu can give chess your full attention only play unrated matches.