“I think it’s one of the most useless questions an adult can ask a child —What do you want to be when you grow up? As if growing up is finite. As if at some point you become something and that’s the end.”

Michelle Obama, Becoming

What is Onward about?

Do you always want to know more and learn something new?

Have you been successful in your chosen field but now want to steer in a different direction?

Do you feel you have interests and talents that you haven't yet explored enough?

Or have you noticed a certain ennui in your life, a weariness doing the same things, having the same thoughts, telling the same stories year in and year out, and wonder how you can rekindle your passion?

If you find yourself nodding at any of these questions, you have come to the right place.

Onward is a newsletter for people who embrace reinventing themselves and mastering new things throughout life. It seeks to inspire, inform, and empower and draws on:

  • scientific evidence: insights from research studies done by lifespan, education, organizational, and personality psychologists, as well as experts from other fields

  • stories: real-life examples of people who know what it takes to keep learning and changing throughout life

  • art: illustrations, photos, paintings, poems, and other pieces of art that provide impulses from a visual and creative perspective

Why subscribe?

Never miss a post! The basic subscription - which is free - includes an email every other week focusing on a specific topic. Here are some examples:

  • “I don’t know what my passions are”

  • “I don’t know what my talents are”

  • Values as directions for life’s journey

  • Quitting in order to start anew

  • “You will never be a writer!” Are family ghosts holding you back?

  • “Neophi-what?” How to embrace novelty

  • When a personal project requires that you flex your personality

  • What is a late bloomer, and are you one?

  • “Traveling is not about moving around, but about being moved.”

  • Couples mastering new things together

Want to dig deeper? Sign up for a paid subscription!

Subscribers of the paid newsletter ($6.00 monthly or $60 annually) receive two additional posts per month that will provide further insights into the week’s topic, including suggestions for helpful activities, questionnaires, tests, and detailed book and reference lists.

Also, a paid subscription will give you full access to the archive, and you can take advantage of community features, like commenting on posts.

Who writes Onward?

Short answer:

Annette Schaefer. I am a long-time journalist*, published author**, trained economist***, psychology aficionado°, rookie yoga teacher°°, amateur gardener°°°, dilettante skier^, enthusiastic traveler^^ – and who knows what else in the future.

The details:

* When I was a graduate student in economics, I interned at a financial newspaper in Germany. I fell in love with journalism and have not looked back since. Starting as a business and management journalist, I later added biographical and science writing. Nowadays, I mostly write about psychological research, the life of inspiring people, the adventure of being human. I am the US correspondent of Psychologie Heute, the leading psychology magazine for the general public in Germany. My articles have appeared in many other magazines and newspapers in Germany, Switzerland, and the US (including Brand eins, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Scientific American Mind, and Medium).

** Topics that are most dear to me have found their way into books: a non-fiction book about the complex attachments that people form to their belongings, a collection of profiles of renowned psychologists and psychiatrists, and a biography of Joseph A. Schumpeter, the Austrian-American economist who coined the term "creative destruction.”

*** I went all the way to the German equivalent of a Ph.D. in economics. Although I loved the rigor of the discipline and the breadth of topics explored, I never worked as an economist. See *

° In my mid-30s, I started to pursue in earnest a subject that was among my favorites in high school: psychology. I took classes at the Open University (GB) and Fernuniversität Hagen (Germany). By now, I am about halfway through my bachelor’s degree. I take my time – obviously – but still plan to finish my degree in this lifetime. Stay tuned.

°° Having practiced Yoga since the mid-1980s, I enrolled in a Yoga teacher training in 2015 and graduated in 2016, shortly before my 50th birthday. Since then, I have taught community classes, cancer survivors, and friends. I still regard myself as a beginner teacher with all the nervousness and self-doubt that involves.

°°° Give me some flowers, a trowel, and planting soil, and you can observe an utterly absorbed and happy human being. I specialize in container gardening, particularly container water gardening. My proudest achievement: a tiny yellow water lily that lived in a half whiskey barrel and continued blooming year after year.

^ I took my first ski lesson when I was 35 and have kept practicing since. Let’s face it, I am not a natural-born skier – but hey, who cares about speed or elegance when the snow is crisp and the sun is out!

^^ I love traveling with my husband Niko but also venturing out on my own. My favorite solo trips include a visit to Iceland filled with nature and history, a sunny stay on the Portuguese island of Madeira, and two Yoga adventures to India. I also commute regularly between San Francisco, my primary home, and Cologne in Germany, where most of my family lives and we have a second base.

Annette Schaefer

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