A new year seems like a new chance, doesn’t it? No wonder there are so many resolutions made around this time. If you’re like me, you enjoy making goals for yourself because you know that goal-setting has the power to change your life.
Each new year I find myself drawn to books about goal-setting, to books about habits, to books about time management. These books help me envision and plan out the way I’d like my life to look in the coming year.
Here are a few of my favorite books to read in the new year.
8 Books to Help You Start the Year Off Right
1. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
The subtitle says it all: “Or, why I spent a year trying to sing in the morning, clean my closets, fight right, read Aristotle, and generally have more fun.” Gretchen Rubin spent a year focusing on habits to improve her overall happiness. Each month was dedicated to a different area of her life (marriage, work, family, etc.) with specific habits to try to implement (no more nagging, clean out closets, write a novel, etc.). Funny, insightful, and inspiring, The Happiness Project has inspired thousands of people to try their own year of happiness.
2. The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You by Jessica N. Turner
“Once I freed myself from the bondage of perfection and embraced a lifestyle that made time for my passions, I was happier in all of my pursuits and responsibilities.” Yes, yes! Turner’s book completely resonates with my experience this year. Making time for my priorities and interests (in my case reading and writing) has helped me become a better wife, mother, teacher, and person. If you feel like your life is too busy for “me” time, or that you don’t even remember the passions and gifts you used to have, The Fringe Hours is a must-read.
3. Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine
In Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, Crystal offers practical tips for the overwhelmed–specifically for moms, though the principles could apply to other populations as well. I found two principles particularly helpful. First, Crystal points out that when we say yes to one thing, we are saying no to something else. Secondly, Crystal offers some simple solutions to help tame the clutter monster and eliminate household stress, which allows us to focus more on completing tasks that bring us closer to achieving our goals. This is an easy read, as the writing style is very straightforward and simple. Don’t let the simplicity fool you, though. There are many gems inside.
4. Happier At Home by Gretchen Rubin
Gretchen Rubin set out to make her home a place that she and her family were happy in–by focusing on one habit per month. Her experience inspired me to Make Home My Happy Place, a place where we give warm greetings and good-byes, where we spend time with each other, and where our possessions are ones that bring us joy. Excellent writing, laugh-out-loud funny in places, and incredible insight combine to make it a compelling read.
5. 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam
Laura Vanderkam’s book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think is the reason that I started The Orthodox Mama. No, it isn’t a book about how to start a blog. The book did convince me, however, that despite the fact that I am a working mother of three young children, I really did have more time than I thought. And, I should use that extra time to pursue my passions–in my case writing. Through keeping a time log, evaluating my priorities, and identifying my core competencies, I was able to begin focusing on my goals. We find time for what we prioritize. So, with the help of Vanderkam, I decided to follow through and make time for writing. You can see my full review of the book HERE.
This book took me four weeks to read (an extraordinarily long time for me!) because I kept on stopping to take notes. Duhigg discusses habits: how they work, why they are important, how our brain creates them, and how we can change them. My biggest takeaway? Cues automatically send us into our habit. For example, you go into the bathroom in the evening and automatically brush your teeth. The time of day and the location are the cues that trigger the habit of brushing your teeth. You don’t even think about it. If you want to change your habits–exercise more, write more frequently, etc.–then establishing cues can help you accomplish that change.
7. Wounded by Love by Elder Porphyrios
Elder Porphyrios (now Saint Porphyrios) was an Orthodox monk and priest who died 25 years ago. This is a compilation of his writings with deep spiritual truths showing his love for Christ, meditation on Christ’s love for mankind, humility, repentance, and life lived in service and love of others. Read it with a pencil handy for taking notes. Read it a paragraph or page at a time to be able to meditate and ponder. Read to learn more about the depth and height and breadth of love. Read it to transform the way you live your life this year.
8. Eat That Frog: 21 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done by Brian Tracy
Eat That Frog gets its title from the quote attributed to Mark Twain that if you eat a frog in the morning, nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. The idea is that if you do your most difficult tasks first thing in the morning, the rest of your day will go much easier. There are many practical ideas for how to do this along with other time management tips. Definitely a quick read that you will think about for a long time after!
What books would you add to this list? Which books will help you start the new year off right?
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