Improvement. It feels like a particularly relevant subject for this blog because we’ve just rolled out an update of Lingogo. But also because it’s winter. Winter makes me reflective ⏤ there’s something about the sound of rain on the roof ⏤ and a spate of recent southerlies have coerced my busy thoughts toward one main revelation. Humans put intense pressure on ourselves to improve. Constantly. In everything.

Improve! Improve! Improve! From the day we’re born goals are set; talking, crawling, ditching the nappies. From there it just doesn’t let up; school, work, our appearance. We strive to be better parents / siblings / grandparents / spouses / friends / aunties and uncles. And faster. And stonger. We’d be ashamed if we weren’t also making the effort to reduce our carbon footprint, be more informed and kinder. 

It’s a lot to think about. Plus, (if you’re already hyperventilating, sorry for this next part ) the whole point of improvement is that there is no finish line. I don’t care if you just won ‘CrossFit Champion of the Universe’. You can still improve.

 

Overwhelming, right? A month dwelling on improvement has had me cycling between mad shopping sprees for new gym gear and heavy books on world history to coming home, writing resignation letters, and crawling into bed with Burger Fuel, Netflix, and no plans to emerge. 

It’s too much. Even from a strictly mathematical point of view (one of my least favourite points of view). If we were to spend one day improving on everything we think we need to in life, we’d have 0.0675 seconds for each issue*. 0.0675 seconds isn’t enough time to sharpen a pencil. And so, rather than improving we’re just spending a lot of time feeling like super busy failures.

Now that I’ve brought everyone down to my own depths of despair, let me offer some hope. 

I know how to escape the madness. It’s refreshingly simple ⏤ prioritise your improvements. Focus on a few things in life that you truly want to improve and stop wasting time on the rest. The more items you knock off the list, the more time and focus you can commit to getting better at the goodies.

But how do you know what to keep and what to chuck? Let me reveal the secret little test I’ve created for judging improvement-worthy activities. Simply run your subject through these three ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. If you can answer 'yes' to at least two questions, then your activity is worth improvement effort. If you can’t, then ditch it my friends. And don’t think twice.

So simple. So life-changing. 

Let me introduce the test with a demo run. Say I’m feeling the pressure to try a new fad diet. I simply ask myself:

1. Is it fun?
No. Obviously.

2. Do you have a good reason to do it?
Yes. Healthy body, healthy mind, bikinis, bla bla bla.

3. Is the pay-off worth it?
Now see here, the power of the list to account for subjectivity dependent on the taker (re-read this sentence with a David Attenborough voice). Personally, I get so much joy out of my sugary 3pm treats that the pay-off of being super skinny is simply not worth denying myself. My answer is no.

One yes = may the juiced spinach diet never enter my thoughts again. 

When it comes to Spanish on the other hand…

1. Is it fun?
Yes. Especially if you’re practising with Lingogo. In a Spanish speaking country. Eating paella and drinking sangria.

2. Do you have a good reason to do it?
Yes. It keeps my brain active and opens my mind to a new culture and way of thinking.

3. Is the pay-off worth it?
Yes. Remember? My brain is bigger, my thoughts inspired and I’m eating paella and drinking sangria!

Share the joy and spread this list around. I wish I’d gotten it to the guys at Nike before their recent sub 2 hour marathon attempt (I mean huge respect to the runners but just - why?!). And if someone could forward it to those ppl at Silicon Valley who are hellbent on having our world run by AI, that would be great. Is it ridiculous that I’m nervous my computer has just added me to a black list for typing that? If I disappear you’ll know why.

Enjoy the freedom it brings you to cut more meaningless stuff and guilt from life and to achieve the things that truly mean something to you (like Spanish!).

On that note, Lingogo means everything to Shelley, Hannah and I. That’s why we’ve consolidated our ebooks and audiobooks into one tidy combined version, made our help files way more useful and added the most beautiful prizes at the end of every book to help you stay on track. We hope you’re loving the improvements. Let us know what you think!

 

*I totally made this number up.

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