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Words in Forge, Debugger, Better Humans, & more. | A 23-year-old writing about self-improvement that interests me. | Get in touch -> maxphillipswrites@gmail.com

High-level negotiators use it to get what they want.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

During my four years in retail, I learned the power of silence.

I spent many hours in the store by myself. Devoid of staff or customers to talk with, silence became second nature. As a result, I’m more than happy to let my brain float around and go down whatever avenues it desires.

However, I realized that often wasn’t the case with customers.

It was strange; if I didn’t speak for a few seconds, some people would happily stand and wait. Others would reach for their phone, but a surprising number of people overshared information about themselves. I didn’t understand.


Train your brain to master the art of controlled anticipation

Photo: Pixels Effect/Getty Images

Tell me if this rings a bell: After a long, long, long stretch of pandemic sameness, you finally have something on the calendar that has you looking forward — maybe a date with a friend you haven’t seen in forever, or a weekend day trip, or just a coveted afternoon alone, away from the people you’ve been cooped up with. You’re excited. You’re eager. You’re ready. And then, suddenly, it’s here and then over — and by the time the next week is out, you can barely remember how great you felt.

It’s natural. We have a tendency to tear…


Indecisiveness is the unlikely key to creativity

Photo by Randall Ruiz on Unsplash

“The Tortoise meanwhile kept going slowly but steadily, and, after a time, passed the place where the Hare was sleeping. But the Hare slept on very peacefully; and when at last he did wake up, the Tortoise was near the goal. The Hare now ran his swiftest, but he could not overtake the Tortoise in time.

The race is not always to the swift.”

By now, you’re probably somewhat familiar with Aesop’s famous fable. As the saying goes: slow and steady wins the race.

Here I am, at the grand old age of 23, re-learning that lesson. I first learned…


Hindsight is both your enemy and your friend.

Image: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay

“Max, you’re working tomorrow.”

“Okay,” I said meekly. “That’s fine.”

Internally, I was screaming. Every week was the same. Despite saying I couldn’t work on Sundays, my first manager would give me my Sunday shift the day before, denying me the opportunity to play football.

I hated my first job. It wasn’t much. All I did was serve sausage rolls and coffee, but now I twitch whenever I smell some pastry (not that it stops me from eating it, of course).

Looking back, I couldn’t get out of there quick enough. It meant I was able to play football once…


I had the best year of my life in the worst house I’ve lived in.

Photo by faiq daffa on Unsplash

“Well, this IS nice,” my family and I exclaimed as I walked into my flat on my first day of university. Electric stove, new cupboards, a water-dispensing fridge. You know, the fun things in life.

This is it, I thought. My university experience has started. A fancy flat — the good times are destined to unfold.

Pah.

Despite a happy start, my IKEA-adorned home began to felt like a prison I was paying (too much) for. Some flatmates became obsessed with keeping the furniture catalog image, biscuit tins, utensils, mugs, food, everything you associate with a kitchen was laid out…


I broke my collar bone and learned why expectations don’t work.

Photo by Nadir sYzYgY on Unsplash

“How bad is it?” I asked my physical education teacher.

Silence. Then, a grimace.

My heart sank.

Shit, I thought to myself, have I just broken my first bone? No, I’ve played rugby and football for as long as I can remember. I’m an invincible teenager. Well, as it turns out, I was just a skinny one.

My collar bone broke, and my mind was left to pick up the pieces.

Since I was five years old, I’d played football (not soccer, football). So when the time came for me to play rugby, I was scared. Teachers saw a tall…


Used it correctly, however, and you can strengthen your relationships.

Image by Pexels/Pixabay

In its last episode, The Office (US) touches on anticipatory nostalgia, where you miss what you have not yet lost:

“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”

During university, I often realized the moment would soon become a memory and began to miss it already. I tried to savor as much as I could — gradually learning from my mistakes, and stopping the good times flying by without drinking them in correctly.

But, as I’ve learned throughout my 23 years, personal nostalgia — where you miss what you’ve…


A fresh reminder to keep things simple.

Photo by Masaaki Komori on Unsplash

Okinawa, Japan. Home to the world’s oldest people, uncovering their ‘secret’ is a centerpiece of western fascination. You may be familiar with the Okinawan diet, or perhaps their belief in the community — known as ‘moai.’ Above all, though, Okinawans seem to do one thing better than anyone.

They take care of themselves.

Care exudes through everything they do — from their work and hobbies to the communities and the food they eat.

It’s something that westerners like myself think we do adequately but don’t really, not in comparison to the Okinawans. They personify self-care.

To understand how, I’m not…


With plenty of help from science.

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

2:55 pm: the post-lunch slump. Familiar with it?

Research from London-based property experts suggests you’re most likely to start flagging around then. The same study concluded that 10:26 am is the most productive time, with 4:16 pm in second place.

While you may want to be a productive workaholic all day long, your body doesn’t. This is because of your circadian rhythm, which, according to Harvard Business Review, is the natural “ebb and flow in our ability to feel alert or sleepy.”

If you don’t listen to this “ebb and flow,” you’re on a one-way train to burnout, which is…


If you aren’t, you won’t get what you want.

Photo by Timothy Dykes on Unsplash

One day, my scary headteacher asked me to show some people around the school. Being a lazy teenager, I wasn’t overly pleased.

The next day, I passed the headteacher. “Max, I hear the tour went well,” he said.

Without looking at him, I said, “yeah, all good,” and kept walking. It may not seem like much, but I suddenly realized how rude I came across.

“I can’t be that bad, can I?” I thought to myself. I should’ve been more polite. Even so, it didn’t affect my relationship with him.

Looking back as an adult, I realize you need to…

Max Phillips

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