Sign in

A publication from Medium on personal development.


In Forge. More on Medium.

How I’m fighting my critical inner resistance, one day at a time

Image by

There is a buzz in my brain. A hum. Like, when you go to a hotel room that has a kitchenette in it, and the low sound of the refrigerator keeps you up all night until your boyfriend sits bolt upright in bed and maniacally rips the plug out the wall? You know, like that.

The hum is restless anxiety of ‘needing to get stuff done’. It’s similar to that nagging sensation when you feel like you forgot something, but you’re not sure exactly what.

When I listen closely and intently, the hum starts to have a needling voice that…

People are much more than how they earn a paycheck

Photo: Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

One of my favorite icebreakers is to ask a stranger to tell me the worst thing they’ve ever done. Most of the time my conversation partner is taken aback, stumped, or left profoundly uncomfortable as they mine the archives of their life searching for a suitable answer. It’s not so much that I’m dying to know everyone’s worst sins but it’s a shocking enough conversation starter that very quickly morphs into meaningful discussion. Discussion that doesn’t involve what we do for work.

Without fail, nearly every time I meet a new person, the question, “So what do you do for…

🔓 Tip: Set up a “mindful lock screen.”

We touch our phones an average of 2,617 times a day. While some of those taps and swipes are necessary, a lot of them happen because we’re bored, or anxious, or avoiding that one task we’ve already put off for the past 27 days. What if every time we lifted our phones, a little voice asked: Hey there, buddy, do you really need to do this right now?

A mindful lock screen serves this purpose. It’s a phone lock screen that you customize with words that will help you be more intentional…

🎈 Tip: Lengthen your exhale.

There’s a reason why you instinctively let out a sigh when you’re stressed. As Rosie Spinks explains on Medium, it’s a tiny coping mechanism, a way that your body is trying to calm you down. In that brief moment, you’re becoming a little more relaxed, more balanced.

The great thing is that you can activate this response—whenever, wherever—simply by extending your breath. Writes Spinks: “At any moment, actively lengthening your exhale (say, two counts longer than your inhale) stimulates the vagus nerve, which plays the starring role in down-regulating your nervous system, taking you out…

‘What you can plan is too small for you to live’

Photo: Charlotte May/Pexels

When I was 12, I plotted out my entire life on a ream of perforated printer paper. It was a long, skinny timeline of events and milestones: go to college, teach, publish a book. Maybe even get married and have children. I brought the ream of paper to my mother and pointed to each milestone — I needed a witness — then I rolled up my entire life and shoved it into a desk cubby.

I’ve always been a planner. It feels good to make a goal, work toward it, then check it off your list, even if your goal…

🤔 Today’s Tip: Ask yourself, “Is this necessary?”

As Ryan Holiday writes in Forge, “Covid was the largest forced lifestyle experiment in history…We’ve had to make do with less.” Surely you’ve eliminate some things you don’t need or use anymore — a stressful commute; social events you never really enjoyed; hard pants.

What could you still give up? What is stressing you out, or needlessly taking mental or emotional space, or causing you some level of pain? Holiday reminds us of the great Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius, who wrote: “Most of what we say and do is not essential. If…

⏲️ Today’s tip: Set a timer to practice being alone with your thoughts.

The trusty timer: For many of us, it’s a tool that helps us complete mundane tasks like boiling eggs. The writer Maya Kosoff uses a timer for a different purpose: to simply be. “In the same way you’d try to get incrementally better at running a 5K, I’ve been trying to get better at doing nothing,” she writes. “I set a timer, turn off my background noise, focus on my breathing, and see how long I can just… do that. The first time I did it I…

Ask it whenever a task in front of you feels insurmountable

Pekic/Getty Images

How will I handle that uncomfortable conversation? How will I get all this work done? How will I show up as the parent my kid needs?

Whenever a task in front of me seems insurmountable and I feel myself becoming more and more stressed, I’ll ask myself a question that immediately calms me: What if it’s easy?

For some reason, considering this possibility knocks me off the struggle bus and drops me back into the realm of control. Suddenly, I’m thinking, “Huh. Right. It might be easy.” And I’ll proceed to act as though it is.

Just the other day…

You’re not working, but you’re not truly relaxing either

Photo: Cavan Images/Getty Images

We spend our workdays in constant pursuit of focus. We invest in courses, test out the latest distraction-eliminating tools, and try various productivity strategies—all with the hope of maximizing our time. But when it comes to our personal time, it seems that we’re perfectly fine with letting it go to waste.

It’s far too easy to get caught in what I call the “low-quality leisure” trap: We tell ourselves we’d like to spend less time on our phones, be more present with our families, exercise regularly, and finally learn French. But when the end of the workday finally arrives, we’re…

Here’s how to silence the constant critic in your head

Photo: Tara Moore/Getty Images

The other day, I did one of those random acts of kindness for a stranger. I won’t go into specifics, because I don’t want to be that guy. I’ll just say it was nicer than holding the door for someone but not as nice as donating a kidney.

What was interesting to me, though, was the way my inner monologue played out afterward. When I got back in my car, I sat for a moment and enjoyed the warm, glowy feelings of doing something nice for a stranger. I thought, “Hey, that was a kind thing you did. Good job.”


A publication from Medium on personal development.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store