My story Personal Development

Life is Like a Sliding Puzzle

Do you have a picture of where you want to be that’s different from where you are now

Any time you want to make changes in life, it rarely happens overnight. Usually, you’re going to have to move the pieces around until what you start with begins to resembles what you want, and you’re probably going to have to be patient and methodical about it.

Just like a sliding puzzle. You know the ones I mean right? You have to move the little squares around until you make a picture, and you can’t just pick one up and put it in the right place.

The batgirl gif above hopefully illustrates what I mean (plus, it’s a batgirl gif, how could I resist?) [If you can’t see it click here to view it on the blog.]

It’s important to note that In a sliding puzzle, there usually needs to be an empty square so there is space to move the pieces around in the first place.

In our lives, we’re usually trying to fit way too many pieces in. Most of us tend to be over-subscribed in one way or another, so at some point we might have to start with removing an existing piece entirely.

Do you have the space available to shift pieces around, or will you have to discard an old, outdated element of your current life to make room for your new vision? 

Digital Reshuffling

Shuffling the deck
Photo by Alan Cleaver

You might have noticed a few small changes to the design and layout to this site. I’m moving things around and trying to simplify my online presence, so it’s definitely in a transition at the moment. The trouble is, every time I change something, it gives me an idea for another change!

One of my main goals is to move this site from just being a blog to a business. I want it to be more of a representation of what I do to make a living, in particular the freelance blogging work I’ve been doing more of lately. Hopefully this will attract clients in the future.

I also had the option of starting an entirely new site for my business, but it felt like an overwhelming task, and I didn’t want to have to run two blogs at the same time. In fact, I want to completely get rid of some of my old sites which are just sitting around cluttering up the internet!

So I’m in the process of considering all the content that I’ve posted across all of my websites and figuring out how to either combine it here in a useful way or get rid of it.

Domestic Reshuffling

My wife and I have also been doing the same thing with our wee flat. We only have one bedroom for the two of us and our cat, plus a small combined kitchen/lounge, and I’m also trying to run a freelance business from home.

There’s just not enough room, and at the moment it doesn’t make financial sense for us to move, so we have to do the best we can. Every now and again we have a rethink and a declutter to try and improve things.

The old desk

Getting rid of the old to make way for the new can be a painful process, sometimes surprisingly so.

I recently got rid of my old wooden desk, which was massive and had loads of storage space because it was built for a big old PC with a tower and monitor rather than a nice laptop.

I should have got rid of that outdated monstrosity years ago, but something was stopping me. I realised that I had tied a lot of memories to the desk and the old computer, especially of when I used to make music. It somehow felt difficult to completely say goodbye to that era of my life.

I had a weird emotional attachment to it because of those related memories.

But I got out the screwdriver and wrench, and took it apart. It was much easier than I expected. We drove to the dump/recycling centre and threw the bits and pieces into the relevant skip. I felt like I had exorcised some ghosts.

Paint Only - By Milo McLaughlin (taken at the dump!)
Paint Only – By Milo McLaughlin (taken at the dump!)

When we got home there was a big space where the desk used to be – now, at least we could get a proper wardrobe. And then, maybe, we could convert the cupboard we’re currently using as a wardrobe into a Tiny Office where I can write uninterrupted.

Each piece of the puzzle takes time to move, and to find a new space for, or to discard as no longer a necessary or useful part of the bigger picture. For a while, it’s more cluttered than ever (like right now because we’re still in the middle of it). But eventually, with some luck and a lot of perseverance, the pieces will fall into place.

The important thing is to make a decision to move towards the new vision, and take the first step.

Let me know what you think in the comments. Is this how you go about making changes in your life  too?

12 replies on “Life is Like a Sliding Puzzle”

I think we’re all a work in progress Cathy, and if you’re missing a box it means there’s room for something new and exciting! Thanks for reading 🙂


Reshuffling is hard, but so worth it. I’m in the process of doing my own so my wife & I can move back to Edinburgh, and it’s forcing me to confront how much emotional baggage as well as physical I’ve been carting around – beliefs I held onto long past the point when they were useful.


I know that feeling Kaite. Hope you manage to lose some of that baggage – both physical and emotional, before you move up here, so you can enjoy Edinburgh!


I really must commend you, Milo … for your excellent choice of GIF!

More seriously, this is a really good, honest account that succinctly captures a subject that is tricky to enact in reality. Very thought provoking: I *think* my puzzle pieces are all moving around fairly freely, though I’m not sure how close I am to finding their final position!

I’ve definitely embraced a simpler way of living (in terms of material possessions etc), which makes it easier to keep those pieces moving. Congratulations on starting the process of your reshuffle! 🙂


Good point about simplicity and frugality allowing the pieces to keep moving Paul, sounds like you’re in a good position at the moment to experiment and discover what pieces you want to keep around!


Great anology Milo! We can’t bring new things into our life, until we reshuffle. Or throw out. Or pick apart. Or break down. Or break up. Or remove. Or steal..wait getting carried away here….

We also have to do the same for some of the people in our lives and emotional circumstances in our lives. Gotta take them out to bring growth in!

Enjoying all the movement, decluttering and clarifying going on around your site. great new tag line and about photo caption!


Very true Vishnu. There is the book Steal Like an Artist, maybe you’re thinking of that? 🙂

People come and go, unless you are still friends with them all on Facebook!

Appreciate the kind words re: the site. It makes a difference 🙂


Such a perfect simile! Well done. I’m not even sure where my mental space stands at the moment… I’ve made some space (and had to guard it against schedule snafus already!) but the freed-up time blocks seem to slither down the drain just as easily as time did in my 9-5 life, sometimes. Too many times… Working, working… Exorcising, exorcising… lol!


Ah, I know that feeling of time “slithering down the drain” Margaret, it’s all too easy. Mind you, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having ‘free time’ to relax as long as we can also get something constructive done too! Exorcising is a good metaphor (which is similar to a simile, right?) 🙂


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