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Last Updated on October 5, 2020

14 Books About Building Better Habits That Will Change Your Life

14 Books About Building Better Habits That Will Change Your Life

When you woke up this morning, what did you do first?

Did you hop in the shower, check your email, or grab a doughnut from the kitchen counter? Did you brush your teeth before or after you toweled off? Which route did you drive to work? When you got home, did you put on your sneakers and go for a run, or pour yourself a drink and eat dinner in front of the TV?

In 1892, the famous psychologist William James wrote, “All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits.” I absolutely love that statement because it’s absolutely true: most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making,[1] but they’re not. They’re habits.

And though each habit means relatively little on its own, over time, the meals we order, whether we save or spend, how often we exercise, and the way we organize our thoughts and work routines have enormous impacts on our health, productivity, financial security, and happiness. One paper published by a Duke University researcher in 2006 found that more than 40 percent of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits.[2]

Habits, by definition, are choices that we all make deliberately at some point—and then stop thinking about but continue doing, often every day. At one point, we all consciously decided how much to eat and what to focus on when we got to the office, how often to have a drink, or when to go for a jog. But then we stopped making a choice, and the behavior became automatic. It’s a natural consequence of our neurology. And by understanding how it happens, you can rebuild those patterns in whichever way you choose.

This brings us to this list of books on how to build better habits. Each of these books are powerful tomes in and of themselves when it comes to the challenge of building habits that stick; but together they become a comprehensive collection of resources on how to create and sustain the habits you need to succeed, both personally and professionally.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

1. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

    The interesting thing about habits is that once we develop them, they go totally unnoticed in our day-to-day activities. For example, you probably don’t think about how many simultaneous actions go into reversing your car out of the garage and into the street safely and smoothly. You just do it. That’s a habit. However, so is smoking. The Power of Habit teaches you how to be deliberate about building better habits that serve you both in life and in business.

    Buy The Power of Habit here.

    2. Drive by Daniel Pink

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      This book will equip you with everything you need to know about developing the habit of self-motivation. In other words, this book will teach you some of the most powerful leadership lessons you’ll ever learn. Author Daniel Pink debunks some of the biggest myths about what really motivates us at work, breaking down the characteristics of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation and how far too many organizations rely on extrinsic motivators, even though they’re counterproductive. Instead, Pink explains how we can best motivate ourselves and others by understanding how to utilize intrinsic motivators. Bottom line? You can’t lead a successful life unless you’ve developed a habit of motivating yourself on a consistent basis, and Drive is a cornerstone book on how to figure that out.

      Buy Drive here.

      3. Mindset by Carol Dweck

        Mindset discusses the differences between people with a “fixed” mindset versus those with a “growth” mindset. Our mindset determines the way we deal with tough situations and setbacks as well as our willingness to deal with and improve ourselves. This book demonstrates how we can achieve our goals by changing our mindset and then developing the success habits to help us nurture that psychological switchover the long-run. It’s a very powerful book on personal transformation that’s also backed by sound scientific research to boot.

        Buy Mindset here.

        4. The ONE Thing by Gary Keller, Jay Papasan

          I recently had an opportunity to interview the co-author of this book and he told me that one of the biggest reasons why most people fail at keeping their New Year’s Resolutions is because they set way too many of them to begin with. The key to sustainable success is actually simple: focus on one thing and see it through for long enough that you achieve your goals. That’s it. Success is sequential, not simultaneous. This book breaks down the mechanics of that process.

          Buy The ONE Thing here.

          5. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

            This book was written over 1800 years ago. Guess what? The powerful principles, written way back in the second century, remain just as applicable today. Just read this quote and you’ll understand what I mean:

            “For how could we do what justice requires if we are distracted by things that don’t matter, if we are naive, gullible, inconstant?”

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            He’s got to be referring to our texting and driving habits, right? The Stoics were known for their disciplined pursuit of excellence, especially when it comes to maintaining emotional stability—which they kept regardless of how stressful a situation they might’ve been dealing with at any given moment. This type of emotional stability wasn’t built overnight. It was built by way of habit. Want to learn about adding some Stoic flare to your own habits?

            Buy Meditations here.

            6. Willpower by John Tierney, Roy Baumeister

              This book aims to re-ignite a conversation that people have been ignoring for decades: what’s the role of willpower in helping us achieve our goals? The answers will surprise you. They’ll also provide you with actionable ways to reshape your lifestyle habits in a way that allows you to find and ignite that charge within yourself to help you achieve lasting change, progress, and ultimately success. Decades of scientific research tells us that the key to forming and sustaining habits is self-control (aka: willpower). And if you want to build up your own willpower muscles, then this is the book you need to read.

              Buy Willpower here.

              7. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

                This is a book about success and how there’s a lot more to it than being smart and working hard. Maybe you’ve heard of Gladwell’s famous 10,000-hour rule and how it relates to success. Even then, there’s still so much more to learn about how successful people became so successful in the first place. Outliers is a must-read title if you’re looking to expand your mind about the subtleties and nuances that contributed to the success of icons like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

                Buy Outliers here.

                8. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

                  You’ve surely heard of this classic. In the book, Stephen Covey says,“People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value.”

                  Do you have your changeless core in check? I know it took a lot of inner work before I felt like I did. And one key component of developing that powerful inner core is by developing powerful habits that are based on principles. Why? Because principles don’t change. They’re timeless. Each of the habits laid out in this book are based upon principles, and are designed to act as individual prescriptions for effectiveness in every arena of your life.

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                  Buy The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People here.

                  9. Mini Habits by Stephen Guise

                    Mini Habits is all about how taking small steps daily can lead to massive changes over time. If you’ve been struggling to lose that fat and achieve your health and fitness goals, if you’ve been looking to attain new skills or build powerful habits that stick, if you’ve been hoping to make massive changes in life but just can’t seem to make it happen, then this book is going to break down the big ideas you need to know in order to bust through those sticking points and build the habits you need to succeed.

                    Buy Mini Habits here.

                    10. The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

                      In this book, author Peter Drucker tells us that “effectiveness must be learned.” What does that mean? It means that being effective is a habit, but so is being ineffective. Often times, people think they’re being effective when what they’re really being is efficient—there’s a difference. Being efficient means to be doing things right. Being effective means to be doing the right things. This book teaches you how to develop the habit of doing the latter so that you can achieve success in life and business as quickly and effectively as possible.

                      Buy The Effective Executive here.

                      11. Make It Stick by Peter C. Brown, Henry Roediger, Mark McDaniel

                        We are now living in the age of the buzz, the bing, and the flash—the age of distractions and constant notifications about the things that don’t matter. And to make matters worse, we’ve got more information flowing into our purview than we ever have before. In order to make sense of all this “stuff” and focus on our most meaningful objectives in life, we’ve got to develop the habit of learning how to learn. In other words, in order to succeed in the modern world, we need to develop the skill of grasping and retaining important concepts quickly. That’s what Make It Stick helps us do.

                        Buy the book here.

                        12. Atomic Habits by James Clear

                        Atomic-Habits
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                          James Clear is a fantastic author with plenty of insight and experience with building habits. In his book, Atomic Habits, Clear makes it straightforward and precise about setting habits and how to have them stick. On top of that, he goes into great length about the various myths around habit-building that many other books try to sell.

                          Buy Atomic Habits here.

                          13. Rewire By Richard O’Conner, PhD

                          rewire

                            Richard O’Connor, PhD is a man with an extensive background in therapy who established a groundbreaking book in his industry called Undoing Depression. In his more recent book – Rewire – the goal of the book is to expand on the information within that book and what he provides to the patients in his therapy sessions.

                            Overall, this book provides a more brain focused approach to building habits and why people choose to build bad habits as well. By learning about the ins and outs of what your brain is doing, you’ll be able to rewire yourself into building stronger and better habits.

                            Buy Rewire here.

                            14. 30 Days By Marc Reklau

                            30-Days

                              Judging by the title of this book, the purpose of the book is to provide you with a 30-day challenge to building habits. What’s nice about this book is that it provides step by step instructions and has different pacing to the rest of the books on this list. In the others, you can read them all in one sitting if you’d like. 

                              With this book, you can do the same thing, however, the book encourages you to learn and apply every single day. It’s easier to do that when you are reading one step every single day for the next 30 days.

                              Buy 30 Days here.

                              Which Book to Read First?

                              Now that you’ve got this big list of books to help you build better habits, there’s only one question left: which one do you read first? Should you go out and get all of them immediately? Should you read them all at once? Or should you take a lifetime to read them? Ultimately, it’s totally your decision what you do with this list and how you apply it to your life and career. However, if I may, here’s what I would suggest you consider as you get started:

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                              • Subscribe to a book summary site, like GetFlashNotes Book Summaries, to get the key takeaways from the books on this list.
                              • If you’d prefer to read an entire book, I would highly suggest that you read just one book at a time. Sometimes, when we see something new and exciting, we have a tendency to want to do/learn/read it all at once. As we all know, this is nearly impossible to do without stressing ourselves out. So, choose a book and commit to reading it from start to finish.
                              • If you’re in a rush, try audiobooks, or audio summaries.
                              • Finally, if you’re in a super rush, check out some YouTube video book summaries, like this one.

                              More About Building Habits

                              Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

                              Reference

                              More by this author

                              Dean Bokhari

                              Author, Entrepreneur, Podcast & TV Host

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                              Last Updated on June 1, 2021

                              7 Signs That You’re Way Too Busy (And Need to Change That)

                              7 Signs That You’re Way Too Busy (And Need to Change That)

                              “Busy” used to be a fair description of the typical schedule. More and more, though, “busy” simply doesn’t cut it.

                              “Busy” has been replaced with “too busy”, “far too busy”, or “absolutely buried.” It’s true that being productive often means being busy…but it’s only true up to a point.

                              As you likely know from personal experience, you can become so busy that you reach a tipping point…a point where your life tips over and falls apart because you can no longer withstand the weight of your commitments.

                              Once you’ve reached that point, it becomes fairly obvious that you’ve over-committed yourself.

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                              The trick, though, is to recognize the signs of “too busy” before you reach that tipping point. A little self-assessment and some proactive schedule-thinning can prevent you from having that meltdown.

                              To help you in that self-assessment, here are 7 signs that you’re way too busy:

                              1. You Can’t Remember the Last Time You Took a Day Off

                              Occasional periods of rest are not unproductive, they are essential to productivity. Extended periods of non-stop activity result in fatigue, and fatigue results in lower-quality output. As Sydney J. Harris once said,

                              “The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”

                              2. Those Closest to You Have Stopped Asking for Your Time

                              Why? They simply know that you have no time to give them. Your loved ones will be persistent for a long time, but once you reach the point where they’ve stopped asking, you’ve reached a dangerous level of busy.

                              3. Activities like Eating Are Always Done in Tandem with Other Tasks

                              If you constantly find yourself using meal times, car rides, etc. as times to catch up on emails, phone calls, or calendar readjustments, it’s time to lighten the load.

                              It’s one thing to use your time efficiently. It’s a whole different ballgame, though, when you have so little time that you can’t even focus on feeding yourself.

                              4. You’re Consistently More Tired When You Get up in the Morning Than You Are When You Go to Bed

                              One of the surest signs of an overloaded schedule is morning fatigue. This is a good indication that you’ve not rested well during the night, which is a good sign that you’ve got way too much on your mind.

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                              If you’ve got so much to do that you can’t even shut your mind down when you’re laying in bed, you’re too busy.

                              5. The Most Exercise You Get Is Sprinting from One Commitment to the Next

                              It’s proven that exercise promotes healthy lives. If you don’t care about that, that’s one thing. If you’d like to exercise, though, but you just don’t have time for it, you’re too busy.

                              If the closest thing you get to exercise is running from your office to your car because you’re late for your ninth appointment of the day, it’s time to slow down.

                              Try these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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                              6. You Dread Getting up in the Morning

                              If your days are so crammed full that you literally dread even starting them, you’re too busy. A new day should hold at least a small level of refreshment and excitement. Scale back until you find that place again.

                              7. “Survival Mode” Is Your Only Mode

                              If you can’t remember what it feels like to be ahead of schedule, or at least “caught up”, you’re too busy.

                              So, How To Get out of Busyness?

                              Take a look at this video:

                              And these articles to help you get unstuck:

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                              Featured photo credit: Khara Woods via unsplash.com

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