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No-one talks about when self-improvement fails

This platform is full of people giving advice on how to live a better life. The assumption at the heart of every article is “do this and everything will work out”. And the implication is that everything worked out for the person who wrote it. Because they based it on evidence and their own lived experience. And they didn’t leave out the messy bits. Right. Right?

Life’s not like that. Any project, ambition or goal you will fail at. I’m sorry, that’s just a fact. But it’s not binary. It’s not 100% success or 100% failure, there’s a spectrum.

Progress comes from failing, trying again, failing a little less (but still failing) and repeating. Slowly, you move up the spectrum.

If you fail, but the latest fail is the least-worst so far, THAT is worth celebrating.

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And what I learnt from running a tiny one myself

Big publications are suggested as a key part of your Medium writing dream, but unfortunately they can be a roadblock to creativity and consistency. They characterize themselves as careful gatekeepers, but examining their feeds seems to reveal that, in some cases, they prioritize big-name writers at the expense of new voices.

My perception of what it must be like to be a big publication editor changed once I became one myself (not of a big publication though, a tiny one). More of that later. …

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And all you can do is start again tomorrow

As relentless as you try to be, life can do it better. Just when you think you have things sorted, life will throw something at you. When you’ve worked hard to get a schedule, a way of being and a method to avoid the pitfalls, life will build a crane next to the road and pluck you off the street while you were looking for problems beneath your feet.

There’s nothing you can do. You have to accept that. Life is the end of level boss you can’t ever beat.

Actually, you don’t want to beat him. You want to find a way to work with him. Or for him to work his side of the street and you work yours.

The only thing you can do for sure… is come back tomorrow and start again.

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Every new context teaches a lesson

In the UK, we’re in the stage of lockdown lifting where a sunny day makes more social activities possible. Being outside gives you some of your old flexibility back, but it comes with a big drawback — in the UK, it’s not sunny every day.

Golf, BBQs, drinks with more than one other friend — great fun but hard to plan. You carve out the time in your diary, get excited… then it rains all day.

Necessity is the mother of invention. I now try to keep myself a half-day ahead of my work schedule so if it’s sunny, I can drop everything and seize the day. I’m encouraging my mates to do the same.

A new productivity technique (“The Half-Day Hack”) is spreading — one that prioritises joy and connection over deadlines.

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Enjoy being you and life gets easier.

You can just tell that some people are OK with themselves. They seem sorted, together, calm and… at ease.

It’s tempting to get annoyed with them or beat yourself up that you’re not quite there yet. But actually, it might be easier than you imagine to get to the same place they are. You’re probably closer than you think.

What little tweaks could you make to get you to the point where you are regularly displaying these traits?

They Are Genuinely Happy For Other People’s Success

The world is a competitive place. Our economy is built on it. Social media, if you peel back the surface, thrives on…

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We’ll never stop trying to work it out

‘The Maze Runner’ series of books and films has an innovative concept at its heart — a maze that resets every 24 hours. Each day the “runners” try to map it before it changes in the hope that one day, by studying all the maps together, they might crack the code.

It’s a superb analogy for life. Every time we think we’ve cracked it and we’re making progress, the context shifts or the goalposts move.

The values concept has cut-through at the moment because they are “lenses” which can be applied at any scale. You can use “positivity” to approach everything from COVID, to your career, to carrot-growing. A simple tool for a complex puzzle.

So pack your values and strap on your running shoes — there’s a fresh maze awaiting us today.

Andy Taylor

I want to learn. I try to grow. I’d love to help.

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