What I learned from 52 Medium articles

Spend less time trying to be original and more time reading widely

Photo by Jon Ottosson

I took a deep dive into Pocket to search for advice from all the Medium articles I saved this year. Here are quotes (with links if you want to read more) with the best lessons from 52 articles, one for each week of the year.

When you read on Medium, you’re reading and thinking with others — others who share your views, as well as those who don’t (which makes you smarter).

I’m really happy to be here, I think this platform and community of writers/thinkers is fantastic. Hi everyone here.

Søren Kierkegaard writes that we live life forward, but only understand it in reverse. At 18, I didn’t always appreciate the questions my education introduced to me at the time.

Now, school’s in session at every moment.

Two things are far more important than what you know. What you can learn, and what you don’t need to know.

Often the biggest impediments to progress is what we know, not what we don’t know.

Take heed to listening to ideas and suggestions that may be contrary to what you think and believe.

Most people HATE the idea of trying new things unless there’s a guaranteed payoff. People who operate under that mindset will NEVER live up to their full potential.

Are you stuck in a rut? Do The Opposite of What You’ve Been Doing.

Pretend it’s your first day on the job to get off autopilot and start thinking of ways to improve your work.

There are different types of labor, and just because we treat work done by marginalized people as worthless doesn’t mean it’s true. I’m not more intelligent or more skilled or worth more than a great McDonald’s employee. And if you think you are better than those people, you are wrong.

Build relationships with people you think are wonderful REGARDLESS of how “important” they are.

We all want to be told, all the time, that all of our ideas are amazing, and every thought we have is gold. But if that’s all you ever get, you’re not going to get any better.

Go on a hike or nature walk at least once a week.

As far as serenity-inducing pastimes go, gardening is hard to beat. It forces you out-of-doors for some serotonin-boosting sunlight and Vitamin D absorption. It encourages you to interact with and appreciate the natural world at its most beautiful: flowers, trees, a ripening vegetable garden.

Treat your “inner” practices like brushing your teeth. Do them daily, but without mentioning it.

Stop rushing life.

As we all know, life is about perspective. When you’re 15, 30 seems really old. But to someone who is 50, 30 seems like the prime of your life.

The problem with aging in America is that we have decided, as a society, that anybody older than us is completely and irredeemably lame.

It always turns out that our biggest fears lie in anticipation.

It’s Never As Good As You Think It Will Be. It’s Never As Bad As You Think It Will Be.

If you’re too focused on chasing happiness, you might end up chasing it away.

Only Make What You Care About.

If you want to make something that people really care about, that they actually give a hot shit about, you have to care about it yourself.

We think we’re looking for acceptance from others. I don’t believe that is it. I think the acceptance we’re truly looking for is within.

Befriend nerds. Especially because I am one, and I know you are too.

Why should we work as though our children are watching? Because they are. Even if we don’t think they are, they are.

Is your regular life — not your side project — on the right side of justice?

Start slow to go fast.

Pausing allows the mind to clear and the body to set, creating a strong foundation to support the explosive movement that follows. When lifting weights, this is true. When starting to workout or learning a new skill, this is also true. Start slow with the basics. Practice the form. Master it. Develop a strong foundation. Then your growth can pick up speed and intensity.

Rest matters.The research is clear: beyond ~40–50 hours per week, the marginal returns from additional work decrease rapidly and quickly become negative.

Taking one small vacation, alone and somewhere warm, not too expensive, with a very good book, is worth the money.

Being a lazy, forgetful creature of habit is completely rational. We only have so much energy and attention, and we have ever increasing demands on it.

Being scared/nervous is OKAY!

Perfectionism is not worth pursuing because it is a fear of shame. It makes self-worth dependent on approval from others.

Practice saying no.

Simply do something to brighten someone’s day.

Write because you were born to do so
Write because it is your voice that the world needs to hear

You’re going to fight with your friends, you’re going to make up, and you’re going to be by each other’s sides at your most fragile points in life. Your friends are always going to be there, the good one’s will stay, and the not so good ones will leave. Only time will tell who the good ones are.

No one ever thinks about how fleeting life is until a tragedy like an unexpected death happens. When it does, time stops. We become more aware of the things we normally take for granted: warm sun on our skin, the color of the sky, a smile from a friend. But life itself should be a reminder enough. Inhale. Exhale. You are alive.

Statistics are human beings with the tears removed. Only through direct interaction with someone — asking questions and sharing yourself — do we get to know a person.

We are more than our jobs.

It is often said that many of the best leaders in history have one thing in common: they have strong positions that are weakly held. They feel strongly about the “right” way to do things, yet they’re malleable to change. In other words, you have to be willing to admit that you’re often wrong.

How you approach your day is how you will live your life.

Creative folks have an innate drive to make something, to evoke a feeling, to build something in order to solve problems — it’s a core trait in our personalities. It’s about putting something tangible out there for other people to react to, use, and enjoy.

Being a square peg makes you unique, and to some extent we are all square pegs. The trick is to find the people, places or things that match your shape. Those square holes are the ones that will treasure your uniqueness and help you shine.

Never use a long word where a short one will do.

Send a book to the last friend you know who had a baby. Stories with Australian animals in them always work well — Diary of a Wombat, Edward The Emu, Possum Magic — but even better is the children’s book you loved most growing up. Use Amazon to get it straight to them.

Every once in awhile, it wouldn’t hurt to read a children’s book. You can pick up some good reminders.

Just because someone is saying you’re not quite ready yet doesn’t mean they are saying ‘no’ forever. Persevere even when you get rejected.

If you’re out there living with this shit, know I love you. Know other people love you. Let them help you.

So, I will continue to laugh. And, as time passes — as it inevitably does — the good days will outnumber the bad.

Anyways, keep building.


Live happily ever after.

Tim Cigelske is Director of Social Media at Marquette University. Sign up for his weekly newsletter here.