The dark truth about a five-year plan


Where do you see yourself in five years? If you’ve ever been caught off-guard by this question in an interview, you’re not alone.

The idea of a five-year plan is so popular because it promises certainty. That if we follow a linear path to success, happiness will follow.

But trying to predict the future is a losing battle. It’s impossible to know what your priorities will be a few years from now, let alone the opportunities you’ll be presented with down the line.

How a five-year plan can get you stuck

It’s great to be goal-oriented. I’m the first to let my Type-A flag fly high! Yet in my coaching practice, I see how a rigid fixation on planning your future can backfire, closing you off from important opportunities to grow.  

Many of my clients get so preoccupied trying to perfectly execute the details of their five-year plan that they get
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How I broke my phone addiction


Do any of these three, very sad scenarios sound familiar?

1. It was a perfect day outside and I planned to go for a walk.

2. I needed baby spinach and avocado and had two hours to get them before the grocery store closed.

3. I got invited to a party where friends I never get to see would all be hanging out.

Well, in my case, I never went for my walk, I missed the window to buy ingredients for dinner and ordered something unhealthy instead, and I never made it out to the party. (I didn’t even shower and try to get ready!) And all because I stayed on my couch hooked to my phone. Thankfully, these three episodes didn’t all happen in the course of one weekend, but they easily could have because…well…I am addicted to my phone.

How phone addiction happens

For some of us, it’s the lure of social media
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Instant Insight: The small joys


Everywhere we look — Instagram or Facebook, television shows, movies, or magazine covers — it seems there’s always an emphasis on total perfection. The most fashionable clothes, the most photogenic meal, or the ultimate vacation. Then there’s your dream weight, your fantasy car, or what might happen if you met “the one.”

These are useful ways to sell ideas (and products), but they’re not very realistic ways to find happiness or maintain a balanced perspective. While our long-term goals or big dreams are important, our day-to-day contentment is better decided by the little things, the things that might remind us that we’re lucky and that life is
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How to defeat impostor syndrome with your own two feet


We recently talked about the phenomenon of impostor syndrome — what it actually means, how it manifests itself, and how to talk yourself out of it.

And though it’s difficult to describe a feeling of perceived inadequacy, especially one that often comes from an irrational place, sometimes a shift in perspective helps make everything a little clearer.

We recently stumbled across a story by Mike Kail who, despite being a high-powered tech executive, also battles impostor syndrome. He recently wrote about his struggle through the lens of running, a habit he picked up in college. What we like about his story is that it offers a very tangible metaphor for how impostor syndrome works and, more importantly, shows how it can be defeated (or, maybe in this case, defeeted):

My first race was the St. Patrick’s Day 8k in Saint Paul, and despite running approximately a 6:30 mile, I wasn’t even
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How to turn empathy into your secret strength


Growing up I was constantly labeled the “good listener.” Being a highly-sensitive person gave me the gift of being able to sense other people’s emotions, often without them saying a word. Over the years I’ve come to realize what a powerful strength empathy can be. Now as a coach and licensed social worker, it’s part of my job description.

 

What is empathy, really?

In a world where life is busy, complex, and filled with stress, empathy is the glue that holds relationships together. It’s the ability to detect other’s emotions and understand their perspective. When we feel accepted and validated, it builds trust, heals, and leads to greater happiness.

Empathy isn’t reserved exclusively for our personal lives, either. It’s what you need to comfort a grieving co-worker, get people on board with your ideas, or diffuse tension
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Video: 6 ways to actually remember names


We’ve all been in the terrifying and embarrassing situation where the name of someone we’ve met before or someone we’ve just met completely eludes us.

And while it’s a clever workaround, there’s really only so much mileage you can get out of saying “Hey pal…”  or “Nice to see you” to sneak yourself out of an awkward moment. (While there’s no science to back this up, some believe that the universe actually knows when you don’t remember someone’s name and will often make a third person appear just so you have to introduce them to each other.)

The true power of remembering names

The truth is that the ability to remember someone’s name will do more than help you survive a social situation. It’s a crucial part of showing respect, making a meaningful connection, and making yourself memorable and liked. Think about a time when someone — a yoga teacher, barista, or someone you
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Instant Insight: Find yourself in others


In dark or difficult moments — whether personal or interpersonal, local or global — it’s natural to feel lost or powerless. Expressing gratitude is one useful act, but stepping outside of ourselves is another way to channel grief into good. And to connect us with others who may be ailing.

Saving the entire world is a pretty big task, but performing acts of care for others, however big or small, will lift the world’s weight from your
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19 solutions to avoid burnout


Say no to the wear and tear of life with any of these products that help us stay mindful, relaxed, and experience more joy in our days. (Disclosure: Unstuck will receive a small stipend from any purchases on this page.)

Use your time wisely

Leather Journal and Pen, $32.95
Instead of scrolling mindlessly on your phone, pull out this handsome leather journal. It’s your private space to write deep thoughts, doodle the time away (it’s good for your brain!), or draft that letter you’ve been putting off. Measuring 7 x 5 inches, it’s highly portable and comes with a hidden holder for your pen. Buy now.

 

Portable Telescope, $59.99
When you think about it, there are few things more awesome than the stars and planets in the night sky. Science has found that when we experience awe, we become kinder and
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5 ways to catch burnout before it catches you


Long before it became a common part of the workplace lexicon (or modern life, for that matter!), the term “burnout” was most associated with physics.

Here’s how Oxford defines it: “The reduction of a fuel or substance to nothing through use or combustion.”

Of course, it’s more common now to hear burnout used alongside words like fatigue, exhaustion, or collapse. But the original definition might be the best one — we can all relate to the image of our personal energy literally being reduced to nothing through overexertion and constant burning.

Burnout is everywhere

You don’t have to be in a stressful office environment to suffer from burnout; it can stem from home life, constant social interactions or obligations, the political climate, or even social media.

Now consider how blurry the lines between personal and professional have gotten or think about how technology has made it feel like we’re always on the
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Why ‘no regrets’ is a terrible mantra


We have so many sayings about regret. Don’t cry over spilled milk. Better safe than sorry. You always regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did. But for the bevy of homespun wisdom that we often take as common sense, there’s a little unexamined assumption buried under all the aphorisms. They all assume that regret is a bad thing.

But is it really? Sure, there are things that you wish you could go back and do differently in your life. There are mistakes that nag at your conscience. But just because regret can sometimes be painful doesn’t mean that it isn’t useful. In fact, regret is a necessary part of being a good person and a vital component to realizing your goals. One way to think of regret is as the psychological growing pains of being human.

How regret fuels personal growth

Simply put, regret is the
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