Let’s face it: This has been the worst year since… ever. It’s been difficult, stressful, uncertain, unhealthy, and unpredictable. From the pandemic to the economy to the environment to whatever politics has become, I’ve had to rely more than ever on my secret coping weapon. No, not wine. (But also, yes, wine too.) I mean podcasts. And you better believe 2021 will be the year podcasts reign.
Podcasts blend the same idea of TV and news, but twist it into an audio format that’s perfect for listening to on the go or just lounging around your home. But that’s where the comparisons end. Neither TV nor radio can hold a candle to the breadth of topics and knowledge that you can find on good podcasts. Literally every topic imaginable has been covered on at least one podcast.
What’s more, podcasts can help you get through mental blocks and even motivate you to shift your life into a new gear—or change directions entirely!
Here are five reasons why listening to podcasts can help improve your life. Plus, five podcasts that I recommend for more motivation and a shift in mindset.
Reasons To Listen To Podcasts
There are thousands of reasons to listen to podcasts. Here are five big ones:
1. Multitask while expanding your mind
Have a long commute? Podcasts are pure gridlock gold. The average American commute time is 26.1 minutes each way.  That’s a free hour, five days a week to learn about the history of modern politics, why you rarely see hummingbirds sitting still, or how to overcome anxiety. (Three recent podcast topics I listened to in traffic last month.)
Or maybe you just want to increase your I.Q. while scratching things off your to-do list? Podcasts allow you to plop some entertaining or educational soundbites in your ear while grinding through work or chores.
My anti-boredom podcast recommendation: “A Millennial’s Guide To Saving The World” with Anya Kaats.
2. Expand your knowledge of (all) stuff
Stuff. There’s a whole, whole lot of it in the world. Podcasts, as I’ve mentioned, dive into pretty much all the stuff. They’re excellent mediums for in-depth, specialized topics. More often than not they feature experts and specialists who’ve devoted their lives to understanding life’s niches.
My podcast recommendation for never ending knowledge: “Ologies” with Alie Ward. One thing you’ll learn from this top-rated podcast is that there’s an “ology” for everything. Like: cervidology (study of deers), cryoseismology (icequakes), and—I kid you not—penguinology. Which is the study of penguins. But you probably figured that out.
3. Career motivation
We can all use some career motivation at some point. Whether it’s advancing your career, finding an entirely new one, or life-hacking your way to an early retirement without one, there’s no shortage of podcasts featuring highly successful individuals who have accomplished just that.
My career motivation podcast: “Side Hustle Pro” with entrepreneur Nicaila Matthews Okome. It’s all about following your passions to profitability with a side-gig you love.
4. Personal motivation
There’s nothing more challenging than navigating the nuances of everyday life. Because real life—life outside of work, school, and Netflix—is incredibly complicated. It’s an ever-changing landscape of emotions, shifting awareness, and personal ambition. Love life. Forgiveness. Focus. Mental clarity. Spirituality. Minimalism. Productivity. They don’t teach that in school (well, not effectively anyway). Podcasts are a great way to learn about the intricacies of who you are, and help motivate you to become the person you know you can be.
My pick for personal motivation: The “Optimal Living Daily” podcast, with thought-provoking tips for setting a better mindset and acting on your ambitions.
5. Better understand what makes us human
No media embodies the human spirit like podcasts. Where else could you listen in on a PhD talk story with a professional big wave surfer? Or gain an insight on what it’s like to be a refugee? Or hear from an everyday persona about their darkest moment and the bright light they found on the other side.
The best get-to-know-humanity podcast: “The Moth“, an open-mic radio hour of extraordinary experiences from everyday humans.