This Book is For:

*Anyone who wants to experience more personal growth in 30 days than most people experience in 30 years.

*People who suspect that living a full life with zero regrets may require a conscious and intentional drive toward making that life real and substantial.

*Individuals who are looking for a strong, effective, and conceptually sound framework for improving their relationships, their careers, their health, and everything else that's important to them in their lives.


"A commitment to growth was the solution to all of my worst problems."
-Steve Pavlina

What does it mean to live intelligently, consciously, and forthrightly in the magnificent and infinitely complex world of which we are a part?

This question and all of its astounding implications was Steve Pavlina's overarching obsession, and after years and years of patient and sometimes restless searching, he now believes that the answer lies in the intersection between three core principles: Truth, Love, and Power.

In Personal Development for Smart People, Pavlina also builds on this foundation by explaining that there are also four secondary principles that follow from the first three. They are Oneness, Authority, Courage, and Intelligence, all of which represent some combination of the first three.

Oneness emerges from truth and love; Authority arises from truth and power; Courage comes from the combination of love and power. All of them together lead to the seventh core principle, which is Intelligence.

Today, Steve Pavlina runs one of the most popular personal development websites on the internet,, which used to get over 2,000,000 monthly visitors (based on a post from 2007, so I'm not sure how many it is now), but in January of 1991, he was sitting in a jail cell after being arrested for felony grand theft.

This is what's known as a "fork in the road."

I can imagine that more than a few people at that time never thought he'd amount to much of anything. But whatever it was that Steve saw in himself, he followed a path that led to him becoming a college student able to complete four years of university in just three semesters before going on to start a successful video game development company.

He may not have been thinking exactly in terms of truth, love, and power back then, but there's no doubt that aligning with these three core principles gave him a second chance at life...and he made the absolute most of it.

As Steve says, conscious growth is seldom easy, but it's always worthwhile. No matter what problem or challenge you're facing in your life, as we'll discuss below, aligning yourself with truth, love, and power will allow you to surmount those difficulties.

Virtually every problem can be thought of as a misalignment between your current mode of thinking and these universal laws of life and the universe.  

Part I of the book is dedicated to explaining the interplay between these seven principles and Part II is all about their application in the areas of your habits, career, money, relationships, health, and spirituality.

Steve Pavlina's been thinking and writing about these ideas for most of his adult life, and Personal Development for Smart People is what you get when a fiercely passionate striver like him dedicates his entire being to answer the question of how we can make the absolute most of our limited time on Earth.  

Since 2010, he's uncopyrighted all of his blog posts and encourages people to share them widely and freely. Consequently, he's been credited as the author or co-author of more than 150 books, with more being published each year.

He doesn't receive payment when people sell these books and other products related to the blog material he's made freely available. His motivation is to encourage a broader commitment to co-creating a more intelligent, growth-oriented world. He has internalized - and externalized - the profound truth that we all grow faster when we assist and support each other.

Key Ideas:

#1: To Grow is the Most Intelligent Thing You Can Do

"Working on your personal growth may seem like a completely selfish undertaking, but in fact, it's the most selfless thing you can possibly do. As you improve your alignment with truth, love, and power, you increase your capacity to serve others. The more intelligent you become, the more good you can do.
If you haven't already discovered this, you'll eventually realize that when you improve yourself, you inspire others to do the same. Those people then inspire even more people, and your positive ripples of growth ultimately impact everyone. As you improve yourself, you improve all of us. As the cells improve, the whole body improves.
If you forget everything else from this book and remember only one piece of advice, it is simply this: The most intelligent thing you can possibly do with your life is to grow."

Self-improvement isn't selfish. If you really want to be able to help anyone else, then you need to actually be in a position to do so, and if you look at it that way, then it's clear that you have a moral imperative to improve yourself as much as possible.

If you want to help others, you must get better yourself, and that means dedicating a large portion of your time to your own personal development. This can be selfish if you have no intention of ever lifting a finger to help anyone but yourself, but there's nothing inherent to the principle of personal development that says looking after yourself is selfish.

Since we live in such an interconnected world - and our success or failure is so intricately tied up with everyone else's - we simply have no choice but to grow, and really, it's one of the best things you can do for the whole planet too.

But what should become clear is that it's also one of the best things you can do for yourself. When you think about it, isn't it wonderful that we live in the kind of universe where doing what's good for yourself can also be the same thing as doing what's best for others?

#2: Align Yourself with Truth, Love, and Power

"It took me almost two and a half years, but I eventually found the solution I was looking for. It consists of just three core principles: truth, love, and power. Four secondary principles are directly derived from the first three: oneness, authority, courage, and intelligence. Oneness is truth plus love. Authority is truth plus power. Courage is love plus power. And intelligence is the total combination of truth, love, and power."

The main message of Personal Development for Smart People is that these three core principles - truth, love, and power - are the foundation of all conscious growth.

They are first principles, meaning that everything else springs from this foundation. No matter what challenge you're currently experiencing, you can be sure that the answer lies in embracing these core principles, aligning yourself with them, cultivating them through your words and actions, and balancing their expression in your life.

Truth is the ability to see reality clearly and accurately, without self-serving distortions, and in such a way that you will be better able to predict the consequences of your thoughts and actions.

Its first rule is that you must never, ever, under any circumstances, lie to yourself. You must tell yourself the truth about your situation, no matter how painful, if you ever hope to be able to deal with it effectively.

There is a multitude of external influences that seek to distort your vision of the truth (false beliefs imposed on you by others, media manipulation, addictions, etc.), and an intelligent approach to personal development is to seek out these reality distortions and dismantle them.

Love is connection and care above all else. Real love is also unconditional, meaning that you don't require a reason for loving. You just love. As the Sufi poem goes, 'The sun never says to the earth, You owe me. And it's that kind of love that lights up the whole sky.'

Love is also about connection and communion, meaning the ability to perceive the underlying interconnectedness of all Being, and to be able to translate that awareness into honest, effective communication that shatters barriers and brings down walls.

Power represents your ability to take full, conscious control of your own life and development. The fullest expression of power means being able to take full and complete responsibility for everything in your life, and to take disciplined, determined action in order to create the kind of life you want for yourself.

Power is your ability to make things happen, and to do so in a way that enriches all of us, rather than only serving yourself. I don't need to tell you that power can be abused for selfish, destructive ends. But when aligned with truth and love, power represents the potential human ability to bring heaven down to earth.

#3: Truth, Love, and Power Set the Stage for the Secondary Principles

“There’s no rule cast in stone that requires you to assume everyone is separate from you. Something rather magical happens when you presuppose that everyone else is a part of you, just like one of your own dream characters.
The first thing you realize is that there are no strangers. There are no insignificant people in your reality. Since everyone is a part of you, everyone has something to teach you. Loving another person becomes the same thing as loving a part of yourself.
Since all parts of you are worthy of love, no human being is unworthy of love either. Loving other people and loving yourself are ultimately the exact same thing."

The next four secondary principles flow from these three primary principles of truth, love, and power. They include oneness, authority, and courage, along with intelligence, which is described in Key Idea #4 below.

Oneness is the combination of truth and love, and it's characterized by the awareness that you are inextricably connected with every other conscious being on earth; with the rest of the entire universe!

Steve says that, while loving is about choosing to connect, oneness is the deep, unshakeable conviction that you're already connected. Your well-being is intimately associated with the well-being of everyone else on the planet, and the reverse is true as well.

Authority is the combination of truth and power, and it's characterized by the stance of total responsibility for the circumstances and direction of your own life. You're perfectly clear about how you want your life to be, and you possess the power necessary to make it happen; that's the ideal state of authority.

In this ideal state, towards which your entire life is a progression, you are able to make enlightened decisions about your direction, you are able to predict with relative accuracy the effects and consequences of those decisions, and you have the persistence and confidence to see them through to the very end.  

Courage is the combination of love and power. It's about facing down fear and following the path that has heart, to use a phrase from Carlos Castaneda.

It's about taking action to overcome obstacles (and there will be obstacles) and being willing to trudge through the short-term negatives to arrive at long-term positive results. It's about sticking to the proper path no matter what, no matter how long it takes, and no matter what sacrifices you're called upon to make.

#4: Intelligence is Alignment with the Principles of Truth, Love, and Power

“Never close your eyes to the truth.”

Bringing it all together, we've got intelligence, which comes from combining all three primary principles: truth, love, and power. Intelligence is about beautiful and creative self-expression, and it's what contributes directly to a life well lived.

When you've developed your capacity to embody truth, love, and power, you can then be said to be living intelligently and directing your own conscious growth. The alternative, of course, is to live blindly, or unintelligently, and I don't think I have to tell you that that's an inferior path. It has no heart.

Intelligence has very little to do with how smart you are in the conventional sense, but rather it's about how well you active the principles of truth, love, and power in your own life and how vividly you make them real by way of your thoughts, words, and actions. An intelligent life is a vibrant, meaningful, purposeful, and fully conscious life, and once you start living it, you'll never look back.

#5: You Are Responsible for Everything

“You can’t avoid the responsibility for what happens on Earth, because you're a part of it. If you think the planet needs saving, you're responsible for saving it. If you think our leaders have gotten off track, you're responsible for getting us back on track. If you see problems in the world that aren't adequately being addressed, you're responsible for addressing those problems."

Even if it's not your fault, it's still your responsibility. That's the intelligent way to approach life and its problems and challenges.

It's probably not your fault that we're stripping the earth of its abundant natural resources in search of soulless profits, but, that being the case, it's still your profound responsibility to help put a stop to it.

It's probably not your fault that people all over the world approach their relationships with other people in such a transactional way, competing with each other and marginalizing each other in an effort to be "better than" or to "win," but it's your responsibility to step outside of all that foolishness and express your emphatic "No."

Everything is your problem, because we are all interconnected and interdependent; more so now than we ever have been before, since our individual actions now have meaningful and measurable global consequences.

It's difficult to accept such radical responsibility and not everyone - probably most people - aren't yet capable of it. But it also presents an astonishing opportunity.

It's an opportunity because, when you live as though everything you do matters, then by definition, your life has infinite value. Living as though everything you do matters is the definition of a meaningful life, and if you want your life to mean something, then you'll take exactly this kind of radical responsibility.

#6: What True Success Looks Like

“True success is being able to look at yourself in the mirror and be completely at peace with what you see. When your habits are aligned with truth, love, and power, the guy in the glass is your friend."

The guy or girl in the glass will always show you the truth. If the way you live is aligned with the principles of truth, love, and power - even if you wouldn't necessarily think about them in exactly those terms - then odds are, you're going to like the person you see when you look in the mirror.

No matter the external conditions of your life, or whether anyone else believes that you're "successful" or not, true success is living in such a way that makes you feel good about yourself.

Thousands of years ago, the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates used to pose two questions to anyone who was commonly regarded as rich. Before he would praise or criticize them, he would ask: "Where did the money come from? And how do you spend it?"

If they earned or spent their money in shameful ways, then Socrates believed that they weren't worthy of praise, regardless of how much money they had. Your success is like this too. No matter what you've achieved (or not), arriving at true success is more about how you got there.

You know when you're not living up to your own standards of fairness and ethics, and you can never really lie to yourself here. The guy or girl in the glass will always know, and the softest pillow is a clean conscience.

#7: Rating Your Life a "10"

"If you can’t rate a given area of your life a 9 or 10, then obviously you don't have what you really want in that area. This can be especially hard to admit when you think you have a 7.
A 7 looks pretty good at first glance, but the true 9s and 10s are way beyond 7s. The 10s are so far out there that you probably can't even see them from the position of a 7.
A 7 is what you get when you allow too much falsehood and denial to creep into your life. It's a phony rating to begin with, a 1 in disguise. Either you have what you want, or you don't. A 6, 7, or 8 is the answer you give when you know you don't have what you want, but you aren't ready to face up to it yet.
I know this sounds unreasonably harsh, but based on my own experience as well as what I've observed in others, people commonly rate some part of their lives a 7 (or thereabouts) when they've disconnected themselves from the truth.
A 7 is a job instead of a purpose-driven career. A 7 is a comfortable living arrangement instead of a deeply fulfilling relationship. A 7 is an income that covers your basic expenses instead of providing true abundance.
When you rate any part of your life as a 7, you're really saying: 'This isn't what I want, but I'm not sure I can do better, so I'll pretend it's good enough. It could be worse.' However, the truth is that if you aren't experiencing what you want, you're already in the worst possible situation."

#8: Take Calculated Risks

"When you take calculated risks, you're making bets where you expect the odds to be in your favor. Even so, these risks won't always pan out. Sometimes you may place a big bet and lose, and the loss will set you back for several months or longer.
But how many of those bets can you afford to make in your lifetime? You can probably make dozens of attempts or more. Even if you have only a slight edge, eventually you'll win enough times to more than cover your losses.
Mathematically speaking, when you see a game where the odds are in your favor, the ideal number of bets you should make to maximize your return is infinite. Place as many as you possibly can; in the long run, the more bets you make, the more you win.
Another factor to consider is that when you lose a bet in most casino games, the odds remain unchanged when you place your next bet. Each effort is independent of the one before it.
This isn't true, however, when you take courageous career risks. Every time you lose, you learn. The more you lose, the more you learn, thereby skewing the odds in your favor with each subsequent bet."

#9: Let Go of the Outcome

“The irony is that once I let go of my attachment to specific financial outcomes and realized I could accept the worst-case scenarios, all the energy that was preoccupied with fear, worry, and concern began flowing into my work, thereby enabling me to generate more income than I'd ever seen before.
Perhaps the best path to wealth is to release your fear of being poor. Realize that life is still worth living, regardless of how much money you have."

Book Notes:

"Do you remember the exact moment you first became interested in personal development? I certainly do. It happened in January 1991 while I was sitting in a jail cell. I’d just been arrested for felony grand theft. This wasn’t my first run-in with the law, so I knew I was in trouble. I was 19 years old."

“You have no idea how good freedom feels until you expect to lose it.”

“These experts often disagree with each other. Some people recommend a high-protein diet; others recommend high carb. Some say you can achieve success through hard work and self-discipline; others advise letting go and allowing God or the universe to handle the details. Some experts encourage you to change; others say you should accept yourself as you are.
If you try to incorporate all these different ideas into your life, you'll end up with a fragmented, incongruent mess. I soon realized that an intelligent approach to personal development would have to resolve these incongruencies somehow. Such an approach would have to make logical and intuitive sense, satisfying both head and heart."

“Intelligence is alignment with the principles of truth, love, and power.”

“While there’s a wide variety of personality traits people find attractive, the principles of truth, love, and power are universal attractors.  No sane person wants a relationship filled with lies and deception.  No one wants an apathetic or uncaring partner.  And no one intentionally enters an abusive relationship.
Despite our differences, we’re all attracted to the same fundamental qualities in each other.  We all desire relationships centered in truth, love, and power.  The more you develop these within yourself, the more universally attractive you'll become.”

"Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such."
-Henry Miller

“Your first commitment must be to discover and accept new truths, no matter how difficult or unpleasant the consequences may be.”

“It’s okay to want something and have no idea how to get it, but it's not okay to lie to yourself and pretend everything is perfect when you know it isn't."

“The more novel situations you encounter that violate your expectations, the faster you’ll learn and the smarter you’ll become.”

“Whatever you fear, you must eventually face.”

“People who hold an accurate model of reality only buy what they actually want or need, so advertisers frequently promote half-truths and outright falsehoods to boost profits.
For example, if a brewery can convince you that drinking alcohol will make you feel popular or sexy, they can generate more revenue than if they portray a more accurate depiction of alcohol consumption.
In order to fully trust the information provided by a media source, you must be able to trust that the source will not sacrifice truth to a conflicting value. The problem with corporate-owned media is that when there's a conflict between profit and truth, trust doesn't always win.
The cumulative effect of mass-media exposure is to condition you to adopt a false view of reality - one that upholds pro-advertiser values. The more you expose yourself to mainstream media such as television, the more skewed your mental model of reality becomes.
Furthermore, the more time you invest in media consumption, the less time you invest in learning from direct experience. This is a path of long-term laziness, apathy, and decay, not intelligent self-actualization.
You can reduce the effect of this block by learning to find joy in the direct experience of life instead of the pale substitute of mass media. Whenever you're exposed to media conditioning, remain aware that certain people have a vested financial interest in reshaping your beliefs about reality in a way that often conflicts with truth.
I'm optimistic, however, that society will eventually outgrow the need for media manipulation as more people realize that power and truth needn't be in conflict."

“Total strangers would begin telling her their life stories within the first ten minutes of conversation. I asked her how this was possible, and she explained that it was the result of a particular mindset she had about people.
She said she knew deep down that we're all parts of the same whole. She didn't have to create new connections with people. She would simply tap into the connection she believed was already there.
Her mindset brought her into strong alignment with the principle of love because she regarded everyone as being lovingly connected to her."

“Instead of having to break the ice with someone, assume that there is no ice. On some level, you're already connected. As you become more aligned with this perspective, you may even find that total strangers will approach you to strike up a conversation.
When you feel lovingly connected to others, you'll often see others treating you the same way. This is a skill you can develop with patience and practice.
You don't have to blindly accept the philosophy behind this idea in order to benefit from it. You can apply it just by using your imagination. The next time you're with a group of people, imagine that each person you meet is already inherently connected to you. Assume the bond of love is already there, and notice what happens."

“To love is to say, ‘We are the same.’”

“You have no power to act yesterday or tomorrow.”

“Motivation is highest when you’re already in motion.”

“It’s a wonderful feeling to set goals, knowing that you can trust yourself to do what it takes to achieve them."

“Total responsibility is inescapable.”

“The weights are supposed to be heavy.”

“All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything."
-Swami Vivekananda

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."
-Kahlil Gibran

“Unity becomes your answer to the question: 'Why should I care?'"

“The positive side is that unity also gives you the strength to shoulder that responsibility willingly and without feeling overwhelmed. Unity reveals that you're never alone. You have plenty of help available."

"You don't need to build a vast global operation to cure every problem on Earth. You just need to remain aware of how your actions affect the whole and start making decisions today to align yourself with the greater good. Think at the level of the body; act at the level of the cell."

“Life awaits your orders.”

“If you want different results, you must issue different orders.”

“When you risk rejection, either you get what you want or you build some courage. Either way, the outcome is positive.”

“Ask yourself if you’re willing to accept the long-term consequences of your current habits.”

“No amount of external success can compensate for betraying the guy in the glass. Your true self cannot be bought at any price."

“If you have money, you have solutions.”

“If you let others determine your salary, it’s a safe bet you’re being underpaid.”

“Never chase soulless profits.”

“Treat your social circle as an extension of your own body.”

“You can delegate control but never responsibility.”

“It makes little sense for your primary health care to be provided by those who profit from your prolonged illness."

“The best relationships serve to increase your power rather than diminish it.”

“Empowering yourself isn’t a selfish act.”

“The degree of challenge doesn’t change the solution.”

“A rejection is a sign of incompatibility, so it can’t really be considered a bad outcome.”

“Weakening yourself helps no one.”

“Apparently, the best way to break the ice with someone is to assume there never was any ice to begin with.”

“Never close your eyes to the truth.”

Be Your Future Self Now, by Dr. Benjamin Hardy:

Dr. Benjamin Hardy is the world's leading expert on the science of prospection and the Future Self concept.

Be Your Future Self Now is one of the absolute best introductions to the field, and inside this book, you're going to learn exactly why having a vision for your own future development is so critically important. But you're also going to receive practical instruction on how to apply the science here and now to make your actual life better. Immediately. Today.

You don't have to wait for some distant day to be the person you love being. In fact, if you're always "trying" to become your Future Self, you'll never get there. You'll always be your current self, trying to become someone else. But if you are your Future Self now, you don't have to wait.

The time is going to pass anyway, and you may as well use it to become the best version of yourself. The future will always be uncertain, but one thing will always remain true, and that is that regret for a life only partially lived is the ultimate pain.

Sample Quotes from the Book:

“The first and most fundamental threat to your Future Self is not having hope in your future. Without hope, the present loses meaning. Without hope, you don't have clear goals or a sense of purpose for your life. Without hope, there is no way. Without hope, you decay."

“If you’re around people who have low expectations for you, you'll fall to those standards. If you're around people with high expectations, you'll rise to those standards."

“To get where you want to go faster and easier, automate and systemize your Future Self. Implementing strategic systems frees up your conscious mind to focus, play, and plan. Automation ensures consistency of results."

Read the Full Breakdown: Be Your Future Self Now, by Dr. Benjamin Hardy

Transcend, by Scott Barry Kaufman:

Great ideas never die, and although Abraham Maslow passed away in 1970, the currents of his thought have turned into a tidal wave, thanks to the pioneering work of Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, who has expanded and updated Maslow's ideas for the benefit of us all.

Maslow was an American psychologist who is often credited with hammering out a hierarchy of needs - that same pyramid you were probably made to memorize in school - that includes the basic "security" needs of safety, connection, and self-esteem, and then moves through to the "growth" needs of exploration, love, and purpose.

In Transcend, Dr. Kaufman shows how, right up until the end, Maslow was extending his world-famous ideas about self-actualization and self-expression and moving into the territory of transcendence, or interconnection between the fates and destinies of every human being alive on Earth.

Sample Quotes from the Book:

“Within the humanistic psychology framework, the healthy personality is considered one that constantly moves toward freedom, responsibility, self-awareness, meaning, commitment, personal growth, maturity, integration, and change, rather than one that predominantly strives for status, achievement, or even happiness."

“I do not accept any absolute formulas for living. No preconceived code can see ahead to everything that can happen in a man's life. As we live, we grow and our beliefs change. They must change. So, I think we should live with this constant discovery. We should be open to this adventure in heightened awareness of living. We should stake our whole existence on our willingness to explore and experience."
-Martin Buber

“I think of the self-actualizing man not as an ordinary man with something added, but rather as the ordinary man with nothing taken away.”
-Abraham Maslow

Read the Full Breakdown: Transcend, by Scott Barry Kaufman

The Outsider, by Colin Wilson:

If ordinary life usually seems a bit...well, may be because the way most human beings live their lives can be compared to an extraordinarily powerful jet airplane flying on only one engine. That's Colin Wilson's basic contention in The Outsider, where he outlines his fundamentally optimistic philosophy of New Existentialism.

It's meant to contrast with the "old" existentialism of philosophers such as Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Martin Heidegger, and others for whom the universe is a rather cold, dreary, abysmal place.

While they wrote about futility, "Being-towards-death," the absurd, and the inevitability of suffering, it was always Colin Wilson's contention that there is a deeper, more meaningful, and vibrant dimension to life that all human beings have access to if only they would put forth the proper effort.

The Outsider can be thought of as a survey of some of the most profound responses to urgent questions about existence, meaning in life, and how to confront death. Wilson explores the lives of key literary and cultural figures such as Hermann Hesse, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, T.E. Lawrence, Vincent van Gogh, H.G. Wells, George Gurdjieff, and a multitude of others, discussing their effects on society, and society's effects on them.

In the final analysis, though, the depth of your life is much more important than its length, and there's a kind of triumphant, powerful happiness that is available to you in each and every moment - that's what The Outsider is all about.  

Sample Quotes from the Book:

“Normally man’s mind is composed only of a consciousness of his immediate needs, which is to say that this consciousness at any moment can be defined as his awareness of his own power to satisfy those needs. He thinks in terms of what he intends to do in half an hour's time, a day's time, a month's time, and no more.
He never asks himself: What are the limits of my powers? In a sense, he is like a man who has a fortune in the bank, who never asks himself, How much money have I got?, but only, Have I enough for a pound of cheese, for a new tie? etc."

“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.”
-William Blake

“What is Hell? I maintain it is the suffering of not being able to love - and for that, you do not need Eternity; a day will do, or even a moment."
-Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Read the Full Breakdown: The Outsider, by Colin Wilson

Die with Zero, by Bill Perkins:

Net worth is out; net fulfillment is in. Legendary energy trader Bill Perkins realized early on that it makes exactly zero sense working to make money that you'll never spend or enjoy, and that what matters most in life is to maximize your fulfillment from experiences, not stacking up wads of cash that you'll be too old and sick to spend.

He suggests optimizing for memories, fulfillment, and peak experiences, rather than wealth for its own sake. It's a delicate balance - planning exactly how you will spend your time and money to achieve the highest possible life satisfaction you can with the resources you have available.

Essentially, the book is about maximizing your life experiences, which means balancing time, money, and health, throughout your lifespan. Sometimes, it absolutely makes sense to trade time for money, but ruining your health for the sake of money is usually a horrible investment!

Sometimes, it absolutely makes sense to buy back your time by paying people to perform tasks that you don't enjoy - such as yard work - but at other times, you'd be better off saving the money and doing the work yourself. Whatever your unique situation, you don't want to get to the end of your life and realize that you've never really lived.

Sample Quotes from the Book:

“Squandering our lives should be a much greater worry than squandering our money.”

“Maximizing your fulfillment from experiences – by planning how you will spend your time and money to achieve the biggest peaks you can with the resources you have – is how you maximize your life.”

“In fact, some of these memories, upon repeat reflection, may actually bring more enjoyment than the original experience itself. So buying an experience doesn’t just buy you the experience itself – it also buys you the sum of all the dividends that experience will bring for the rest of your life.”

Read the Full Breakdown: Die with Zero, by Bill Perkins

The View from the Opposition:

No one's ideas are beyond questioning. In this section, I argue the case for the opposition and raise some points that you might wish to evaluate for yourself while reading this book.

#1: Green Light!

There are plenty of ideas within Personal Development for Smart people that reasonable people could disagree with, but I don't think there's anything in here that forces me to say, "I can't understand how he actually believes that!"

Pavlina would want you to critically evaluate everything he's saying in this book anyway, and what's more, he'd also want you to test it for yourself. He's a big fan of 30-day challenges, where you take an idea you find in the book and apply it to your life for a month.

At the end of the month, if you like where this new habit is taking you, then, by all means, continue. But if not, that's okay! It was an experiment, and sometimes experiments just don't work out.

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Questions to Stimulate Your Thinking:

#1: "Am I willing to accept the long-term consequences of my current habits?”

#2: "When is the only time you have any power to act?"

#3: "What are my responsibilities in this situation, and to whom?"

#4: "Am I misaligned with any one of the first three principles more than the others? How can I rebalance and express them creatively through my thoughts, words, and actions?"

#5: "Am I living a smaller life than I could be living? If so, is that because I don't think I'm able to expand my capabilities? Or is it because I don't want other people to feel like I've outgrown them?"

Action Steps:

So you've finished reading. What do you do now?

Reading for pleasure is great, and I wholeheartedly support it. However, I am intensely practical when I'm reading for a particular purpose. I want a result. I want to take what I've learned and apply it to my one and only life to make it better!

Because that's really what the Great Books all say. They all say: "You must change your life!" So here, below, are some suggestions for how you can apply the wisdom found in this breakdown to improve your actual life.

Please commit to taking massive action on this immediately! Acting on what you've learned here today will also help you solidify it in your long-term memory. So there's a double benefit! Let's begin...

#1: Daily Goals

Set targets for each day in advance. Decide what you'll do; then do it. Without a clear focus, it's too easy to succumb to distractions.

#2: Peak Times

Identify your peak cycles of productivity, and schedule your most important tasks for those times. Work on minor tasks during your non-peak times.

#3: Insanely Bad

Defeat perfectionism by completing your task in an intentionally terrible fashion, knowing you never need to share the results with anyone. Write a blog post about the taste of salt, design a hideously dysfunctional website, or create a business plan that guarantees a first-year bankruptcy. With a truly horrendous first draft, there's nowhere to go but up.

#4: Confession

Confess a lie or a secret that you've been concealing, and in so doing, alighn yourself more strongly with the principle of truth. If you want to do this on Easy mode, confess over the internet to a stranger; for Hard mode, tell someone you've been lying to in person that you haven't been completely honest with them.

#5: Oneness

Meditate on the fact that you didn't come "into" the came out of it. You are something that the whole universe is "doing," in the same way that a wave is something that the whole ocean is doing.

See how this makes you feel about the perceived separation between you and every other human being on Earth, and see if maybe we're all much closer than we think.

About the Author:

Steve Pavlina is widely recognized as one of the most successful personal development bloggers in the world, with his work attracting more than 100 million visits to

He has written more than 1700 articles and recorded many audio programs on a broad range of self-help topics, including productivity, relationships, and spirituality.

Steve has been quoted as an expert by the New York Times, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, The Guardian, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Daily News, and many other publications.

Steve's articles, podcasts, and videos are uncopyrighted, so his work has been re-published and translated extensively. He is credited as the author or co-author of more than 150 books, with more being published each year.

Steve lives in Las Vegas and travels often.

Additional Resources: - Main Website

Steve's Recommended Reading List

Sample Chapter from Personal Development for Smart People

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Personal Development for Smart People, by Steve Pavlina

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