Advertising
Advertising

11 Life-Changing Books To Help You Build Better Habits

11 Life-Changing Books To Help You Build Better Habits

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, 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.

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?

Advertising

1. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

81ZjagjIv0L

    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.

    2. Drive by Daniel Pink

    61MnRyNuIDL

      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.

      3. Mindset by Carol Dweck

      mindset

        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.

        4. The ONE Thing by Gary Keller, Jay Papasan

        Advertising

        612i7DZgq+L

          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.

          5. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

          91GjRZESX3L

            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?”

            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? Pick up a copy of Meditations.

            6. Willpower by John Tierney, Roy Baumeister

            willpower-book-cover

              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.

              Advertising

              7. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

              outliers

                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.

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

                7-habits-of-highly-effective-people

                  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.

                  9. Mini Habits by Stephen Guise

                  71Hl84r0kBL._SL1500_

                    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.

                    Advertising

                    10. The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

                    7174qDTeqQL

                      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.

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

                      711OfSkrOiL

                        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.

                        Which book will you 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:

                        • 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 by this author

                        Dean Bokhari

                        Author, Entrepreneur, Podcast & TV Host

                        How to Use the Law of Attraction to Make Your Dreams Happen 15 Life Lessons Everyone Should Learn for a Good Mindset How to Develop a Can Do Attitude and Succeed in Life 7 Things That Cause Your Lack of Motivation (And How to Fix Them) How to Avoid Procrastination and Get Your Work Done

                        Trending in Lifestyle

                        1 How To Be Successful In Life: 13 Life-Changing Tips 2 7 Stress Management Techniques to Get You Back on Track 3 10 Quick Easy Workouts To Lose Arm Fat At Home 4 8 Core Workouts You Can Easily Do At Home 5 Weight Loss Plan And Program: Create Your Own One

                        Read Next

                        Advertising
                        Advertising
                        Advertising

                        Last Updated on April 6, 2020

                        How To Be Successful In Life: 13 Life-Changing Tips

                        How To Be Successful In Life: 13 Life-Changing Tips

                        What is success to you? How to be successful in life?

                        To some, when they think of success, they imagine wealth; others want power; some just want to make a positive impact on the world.

                        All of these are perfectly valid, indeed success is a concept that means different things to different people. Though no matter what success is to you, it almost certainly isn’t something will come easily.

                        There are countless guides and books to being successful, however, as success is personal and unique to each individual. The advice contained in these books can often not be relevant. Therefore following the advice of a single individual can often be unhelpful.

                        With this in mind, considering the advice of a great many people, people whose ideas of success were different both to each other, and quite possibly, to you can be a good alternative.

                        What follows is a list of 13 of the best pieces of advice from some of the most successful people who have ever lived. If you want to learn how to be successful, these tips are essential:

                        1. Think Big

                          From Michelangelo Buonarroti, Great Renaissance Artist:

                          “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

                          There are few artists as influential as Michaelangelo. Today centuries after his death, his work still inspires and connects to people. His work is world famous, just think of his statue of David, or the Mural in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.

                          Imagine then, if he decided not to work as an artist.

                          Being a successful artist has always been extremely difficult, imagine if he decided to give up this ambition in favour of something easier?

                          Oftentimes, people often decided to put their dreams aside for something more “realistic”. To give up their dream for something easier. This quote teaches us the danger of such a point of view.
                          Instead be ambitious.

                          2. Find What You Love to Do and Do It

                            From Oprah Winfrey, Media Mogul:

                            “You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job and not be paid for it.”

                            This is a good quote to remember and think about when you’re at work.

                            Imagine being as successful as possible in your current job. Ultimately you’ll probably find yourself working extremely hard and this it will take up much of your time.

                            If it’s a job you hate, then being successful at it might only mean filling your life with something you hate to do. What’s the sense in this?

                            Instead, why not focus on doing something you love? When you’ve found what you’re passionate about, you get the motivation to keep you moving. Success at this means the fulfilment of your dreams.

                            Not sure what your passion is yet? You should learn about this Motivation Engine first.

                            Even if you’re not successful, you still filled your time with something you love to do. Many successful musicians spent years of their lives doing unpaid performances, the only reason they kept playing was because they loved to perform.

                            3. Learn How to Balance Life

                            Advertising

                              From Phil Knight, CEO of Nike Inc.:

                              “There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success.”

                              All too often, people think that to be successful, they need to make the object of their success their life.

                              If a person thinks their job will lead them to success, then they may spend countless hours per day, and well into the evening working hard.

                              However this comes at the cost of rest, your health and having an enjoyable life. Ultimately they may burn out and cease to be successful at their job anyway.

                              If success comes from having a strong social life and a good group of friends, their job may suffer; meaning that they may lose their job, and then be unable to afford going out with friends.

                              In these ways, success, as Phil Knight says above, is helped by balance. Think of it as a balance between rest and work, or work and play.

                              To achieve that balance, this Ultimate Guide to Prioritizing Your Work And Life can help you.

                              4. Do Not Be Afraid of Failure

                                From Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motors:

                                “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

                                There is a story, it’s unconfirmed whether it actually happened, yet the message within is none the less true:

                                Thomas Edison inventing the lightbulb was the result of several hundred failed attempts. In an interview, he was asked “How do you feel after all of your failed attempts?”

                                His response was great, “I didn’t fail, I learned hundreds of ways not to invent the lightbulb”

                                He saw each “failure” as a lesson. From that lesson he learned what won’t work, and also might work instead.

                                Each failed attempt, each rejection, were key steps on his path to success. It is easy to feel like you should give up after a failure. But perhaps in that failure is a lesson.

                                Pay attention to your failures, study them. Perhaps then you’ll learn how to succeed.

                                If you find it difficult to fight your fear of failure, here’s a guide for you: Why You Have the Fear of Failure (And How to Conquer It Step-By-Step)

                                5. Have an Unwavering Resolution to Succeed

                                  From Colonel Sanders, Founder of KFC:

                                  “I made a resolve then that I was going to amount to something if I could. And no hours, nor amount of labor, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me. And I have done that ever since, and I win by it. I know.”

                                  This, in many ways relates to the above quote about learning from your failures.

                                  It’s the easiest thing in the world to give up from a failure. The only way to push on is if you have the true burning desire to succeed, to not be moved or dissuaded from your goals.

                                  Advertising

                                  If you are not truly dedicated towards success, then each failure will hurt more, each set back will slow you down.

                                  Success is hard; without the unwavering desire to succeed, this difficulty may seem insurmountable. With the desire, it is merely an obstacle to go through.

                                  6. Be a Person of Action

                                    From Leonardo da Vinci, Renaissance Genius:

                                    “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

                                    Though it was said hundreds of years ago, it works just as much today as it ever had. It applies to literally any successful person.

                                    Think about it, picture someone like William Shakespeare:

                                    When we think of the time he lived in, we think of the time in a way shaped by him. When we think of Renaissance era Italy, we think of Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. Or think about the present day, Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Our current way of life would simply be incomparably different if they didn’t accomplish what they did.

                                    You’re probably reading this article on a device by a company that they either founded or companies influenced by them.

                                    All these figures were proactive, they saw ways to do things differently and did them. If they let the world shape them, then they’d simply fit into the background. Instead they shaped the world.

                                    Applying this to you?

                                    Don’t be afraid of going outside the norm. If you can think of a better way to do something, do it that way. If you fail, try again.

                                    7. Cultivate Positive Relationships

                                      From Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of America: “

                                      The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”

                                      The best leaders and some of the most influential people (and Theodore Roosevelt is one of the best leaders and one of the most influential people to have lived) were not those who caused commotions, who fought with people or disregarded people; but were people who were friendly to those around them.

                                      People liked them. They wanted them to do well.

                                      This is key to good leadership.

                                      It’s logical. If someone likes you, they want to help you; if you give them a suggestion, they’ll gladly follow through with it.

                                      But if someone doesn’t like you, they may either refuse to help or actively get in your way.

                                      What’s more, it’s always a good idea to cultivate good relationships. You can never tell who will prove to become someone who’ll be able to help you in a big way, or even be a good and supportive friend.

                                      As such, help people and they may help you; and be good to people, and they my be good to you.

                                      8. Don’t Be Afraid of Introducing New Ideas

                                      Advertising

                                        From Mark Twain, Famed Author:

                                        “A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.”

                                        It is an unfortunate truth that those with the boldest ideas are often disregarded.

                                        Most of us are taught from an early age to think and do things similarly to everyone else. This can be great to fill an existing role. But to truly do things differently (and all successful people did things differently), you need to think differently.

                                        If you have a new idea, don’t throw it away because it’s new and different; instead, celebrate it. Your strange new idea might one day be the one that leads you to success.

                                        9. Believe in Your Capacity to Succeed

                                          From Walter Disney, Founder of Walt Disney Company:

                                          “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

                                          Success has to be something you can imagine yourself achieving.

                                          It is possible that you will come across those who doubt you and your ability to succeed. You must not become one of these people because the moment you cease believing and dreaming is the moment these dreams fall away.

                                          Keep dreaming!

                                          10. Always Maintain a Positive Mental Attitude

                                            From Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of America:

                                            “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

                                            Like the above quote says, you need to trust in your ability to succeed. This is the only way to cultivate the right mindset.

                                            Replace negative thoughts with the positive ones. You need to approach problems, not as obstacles stopping you, but merely tasks that need to be completed for you to keep going.

                                            If you stay positive and think like this, setbacks won’t affect you so much, people’s doubts won’t impact you and even the biggest obstacles will seem like minor problems.

                                            However with the wrong mindset of doubt, you’ll be much easier to stop.

                                            11. Don’t Let Discouragement Stop You from Pressing On

                                              From Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of America:

                                              “Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.”

                                              It is an unfortunate fact of human nature — all of us in some way, doubt ourselves. This can be made far worse if others doubt us too.

                                              When surrounded by doubts, giving up can actually seem like a good idea.

                                              Advertising

                                              Don’t pay attention to the doubts. If you are discouraged, ignore it.

                                              If this discouragement moves into your mind and you begin to doubt yourself. It is important to ignore this too.

                                              This is How Self Doubt Keeps You Stuck and How to Overcome It

                                              12. Be Willing to Work Hard

                                                From JC Penny, Founder of JC Penney Inc.:

                                                “Unless you are willing to drench yourself in your work beyond the capacity of the average man, you are just not cut out for positions at the top.”

                                                You might have heard the quote that “success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” or you may have heard about the 10,000 hours idea.

                                                Whichever way you frame it, they say one thing:

                                                True success comes from work.

                                                You’ll never become successful if you don’t work towards your goal in life and keep working towards it.

                                                Check out this article and you’ll understand Why Hard Work Beats Talent.

                                                13. Be Brave Enough to Follow Your Intuition

                                                  From Steve Jobs, Co-founder of Apple Inc.:

                                                  “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

                                                  In ancient Greece, there was a group of Oracles who lived in Delphi. Everyone who needed advice or to know their future visited them, from the poorest of society to kings. Above the doorway of the temple were the words “know thyself”.

                                                  If you strongly believe and desire something, chances are that you already have an idea how to get there. If not, you may naturally know what things will help you and what things will slow you down.

                                                  It’s like how your body can detect danger even when things seem safe.

                                                  Ultimately then, you need to trust your own instincts.

                                                  Final Thoughts

                                                  What you might have noticed is that many of the above lessons are similar — most are about developing the right state of mind. This clearly suggests that the key to achieving success, in whatever you wish, comes down to the way you approach it mentally.

                                                  Moreover, no matter what stage of life you’re at now, you can still make a difference and pursue success. You can make resetting your life possible when you do this: How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

                                                  More Tips for Achieve Success

                                                  Featured photo credit: Ryan Wong via unsplash.com

                                                  Read Next