Another year of writing, researching, reflecting, and thinking about human nature is coming to a close. In no particular order, here are the 15 ideas I think are most powerful from the past year. Hopefully reflecting on them can help you in your process of looking ahead to 2018.

Stress + Rest = Growth. Too much stress, not enough rest and the result is illness, injury, or burnout. Too much rest, not enough stress, and the result is complacency or stagnation.

Forget about trying to be balanced. It’s better to go “all-in” on the things that you care about, while being self-aware enough to evaluate what you’re sacrificing as a result, and make adjustments over time.

You get better, kinder, and wiser from going through tough times. This doesn’t make going through pain any easier, and it can seem meaningless when you’re in a dark spot, but it’s worth keeping in mind when you’re hurting: do what you can to stay patient and hopeful, odds are you’ll emerge a better, kinder, and wiser you.

Sometimes not working *is* the work. There’s value in letting something sit and marinate for a bit. This is as true for a creative idea as it is for a highly-worked muscle in the body.

Control your passion so it doesn’t control you. Don’t confuse passion for something (good) with passion for the external validation that thing may bring you (bad). The former mindset is productive and leads to sustainable joy. The latter mindset is destructive and leads to angst and sadness.

Go big or go home and you often end up home. Small consistent efforts that compound over time lead to massive gains. Step by step is the way.

Surround yourself wisely. The people and things around you shape you. Be intentional about both.

Work and love like a craftsperson. The more you focus on and are fully engaged in the things and people that matter to you the better the quality of your work and relationships and the better the quality of your life.

The best goal is the simplest: get better. Those with the longest, healthiest careers DO care about results, but are not defined by them. Focus on the process and let the outcomes take care of themselves.

Sleep is one of the most productive things you can do. Anyone looking to “hack” their way to improved health or performance who isn’t getting 7–9 hours should start there.

Move your body. Exercise offers a cure to so much of what ails us — both physically and mentally. This doesn’t even mean you need to go to a gym, or run marathons, or lift tons of weights. Garden. Walk with your friends. Take the stairs. Just move and move regularly.

Think calm determination. There’s a lot of noise out there. Your happiness and success is often reliant upon your ability to define your signal and block out the rest.

Be humble. Humility is a prerequisite to growth.

Give people the benefit of the doubt. You don’t know what someone is going through. Most people are doing the best they can.


Thanks for reading. If you’re into these sorts of reflections and want to recieve them regularly, follow me on Twitter @Bstulberg and/or Facebook, where I share pearls of wisdom from my research, reading, and writing.


  • Brad Stulberg

    Author of The Passion Paradox and Peak Performance

    Brad researches, writes, and coaches on health and the science of human performance. His new book is Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success. He is a columnist at New York and Outside Magazines.