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A publication from Medium on personal development.


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Trying to build a habit can backfire if you fall for the ‘habit trap.’

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These days, when someone says they want to form a “habit,” what they often mean is that they want to make drudgery effortless. That is, they don’t want to actually do the work, rather they want to have done it — past tense.

None of them have anything to do with money, fame, or success

Licensed from Shutterstock // Ostanina Anna

How do you compare to the person you were ten, twenty, or thirty years ago? Are you kinder, braver, more principled? I’m fifty now, and those metrics matter to me. But that wasn’t always the case.

In my twenties, I lusted after money, job titles, and sex as trophies of a successful life. Those success criteria now seem laughable and childish. Yet, many of my peers still chase after the same cravings that drove them in their twenties. They’re frustrated with life. They feel left behind even though they’re rich. They’re aggrieved despite being blessed and privileged.

That’s what happens…

A “digital detox” probably won’t fix what’s broken. Here’s what will.

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Not so long ago, I came to believe that I was prioritizing technology over the most important people in my life — including, most painfully, my daughter.

It hit me hard one day when the two of us were playing games from an activity book. The first activity involved naming each other’s favorite things. The next project was to build a paper airplane with one of the pages. The third was a question we both had to answer: “If you could have any superpower, what would it be?”

I wish I could tell you what my daughter said at that…

A simple rule to help you overcome burnout

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The other day, a close friend and I were texting about something hard happening in her life. I asked how she had been doing lately, and she gave it to me straight: “I feel like I’m doing everything I can to stay sane, but no matter what I do, it doesn’t balance the scales.” Enter distressed emoji.

My friend’s insightful (and extremely relatable) observation reminded me the Belgian researchers Isabella Roskam and Moïra Mikolajczak, who study parental burnout and effects. While burnout can feel a lot like stress and even anxiety and depression, it’s not just about the presence of…

The question will save you from disappointment

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Wouldn’t it be nice to experience greater fulfillment in life?

Everyone has aspirations and dreams, but they don’t always think things through. Worse, they don’t stop to examine their underlying motivations, and where they might lead.

I’ll bet you know people who are unhappy in their careers. They complain about their bosses, the commute, office politics, and more. Maybe this applies to you?

“How did I get into this mess?” you might ask yourself.

The answer often has to do with money, the expectations of others, and unexamined goals. …

A cheat sheet for quiet people who want to be seen


“What the hell am I doing here?” I thought to myself. “This place isn’t for me!”

Cigarette packs, coffee cups, and manilla folders were everywhere. I felt like I’d just walked into the set of a bad sales movie. The year was 2003. The place was Baltimore. The people who weren’t screaming into their phones were yelling at each other about how many deals they had going.

Just as I began to think about making a run for the back door, the corporate trainer stuck his head outside the conference room and shouted, “We’re in here, Mike! Let’s go!”


A case for letting relationships reveal themselves without the help of information we’ve already discovered online

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I recently got a request to meet with a guy in my town who wants to be a writer. Combine having not made a lot of in-person friends over the past 18 months and most people in Spain thinking I’m a fortune teller because I write on something called “Medium,” I jumped at the opportunity.

Walking home after our conversation, however, I questioned why the guy wanted to speak with me. Not every time, but quite a bit, he would cut me off when I began to explain something or attempt to tell a story. “I just read your status…

You’ve know that journaling has great benefits. But how do you even start?

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It might surprise you that as someone who teaches journaling and recommends it so frequently, the practice used to feel hard, confusing, painful, and weird to me. I was extremely resistant to it. I couldn’t see the use of journaling; my mind was already loud and chaotic and full of thoughts racing over one another and I didn’t get the point of writing them down on paper.

I think one reason I was resistant was that I just didn’t know how to start. It seemed overwhelming. I was just supposed to pick up a pen, stare down a blank page…

‘Planned Spontaneity’ is a crucial productivity secret nobody talks about

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Do you sometimes feel you lack spontaneity in your life? And yet you’re running ragged, cranking at work, taking care of the kids, and managing all of life’s other responsibilities. If there’s not enough time for your own wants and needs, how can there ever be enough time to live with joyful abandon?

There’s a simple technique that allows you to step off that hamster wheel and add greater spontaneity to your days. And the best part is you don’t have to give up the sense of order that your life needs.

Productivity and spontaneity are not opposites, as most…

A list of things I’ve learned the hard way

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The great Admiral Hyman Rickover used to say that success teaches nothing; only failure is educational. I don’t know if that’s completely true, but I will say that my own short time on this planet has had its share of teachable moments rooted in mistakes, usually of my own making.

For going on 10 years now, I have written a piece on my birthday around the idea of lessons learned. This year, at 34, I thought I’d focus exclusively on my failures and what they’ve taught me. …


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