Self-competition: only compete with your past self

Competition is stressful, but many regard it as a powerful driver of personal growth. Competitive fire has been praised for the success of political candidates, Olympic athletes, and champion chess players who reached the top by racing someone else. But what we rarely talk about are people who do great without competing against others. In …

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Motivation beyond money

Why do you get up in the morning? What drives you to work, create, and connect with people? Many traditional models of motivation argue human beings are mostly driven by rewards—whether financial, material, or social—or by fear of punishment. At work, money is often used as a productivity driver. But author Daniel Pink suggests a …

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The ambition trilemma: freedom, stability, wealth

Despite my existential doubts, I have always considered myself a fairly ambitious person. Of course, between my education by two driven parents—you don’t go from cleaning lady to director without a bit of ambition—and a potential but still elusive ambition gene, I don’t have anything to brag about. But, for some reason, since I was …

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Build your own PaaP: playfulness as a practice

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Before becoming a scary trope in a Kubrick’s movie, this was an ancient proverb. Playfulness is often interpreted as frivolous—something associated with children activities, or as something purely physical. Yet playfulness is an inherent part of human nature, and is crucial for personal growth. Playfulness …

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Knowing when it’s time to quit and move on

Whether you have a job and a few side projects or you are a full-time entrepreneur, chances are you consider your work a part of your identity. “What do you do?” is one of the most common icebreakers when we meet new people. Certain jobs are thought to breed certain mindsets. Some are considered—rightly or …

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30 life lessons I learned before turning 30

I just turned 30. As someone who suffers from time anxiety, I thought it would bring the usual mix of stress and depression I usually experience around birthdays. But, somehow, this year is different. I feel calmer, more confident, and more excited about the future. To some who are younger than me, thirty years may …

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Noterday: letting go of yesterday

“If your yesterday was much better than your today, then today you will most probably walk around in your yesterday.” Mehmet Murat ildan, Turkish playwright and novelist. I love playing with words. They’re living vessels of what it means to be human. Some words feel so natural we never stop to question their meaning. Take …

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The psychology of gift giving

The holiday season is around the corner. For most of us, it means we need to get gifts for our loved ones—our family, our friends, maybe even for people we don’t know all that well, such as clients and coworkers. The holiday season is notoriously stressful. Surveys show that nearly 7 people out of 10 …

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The Pygmalion Effect: an invisible nudge towards success

When I was in school, a friend of mine was offered the opportunity to coach the newly formed volleyball team. He didn’t think he had what it took to do a good job, but there was no one else better qualified, so he accepted. While they trained several times a week, my friend kept on …

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Write your own eulogy to shape your future

In Western culture, death is scary. Death is sad. Death is an uncontrollable event which puts an end to all events. This is why we mostly avoid thinking about it. And this is why many cultures and religions have the concept of an afterlife. But thinking about death can be empowering. And one of the …

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