The New Year starts and we are all full of good intentions. Whether it’s exercising more, drinking less, eating better or getting more focussed with our time, most of us kick off January full of plans.
And then it gets to a few weeks in. And you remember that January is grey, and cold and tough. And February is coming next and, while she may be shorter, she’s just as miserable as January. The plans get mislaid in the business of everyday life, and we lose the intent behind those intentions.
That’s why NOW is the time to get back on track. Many experts say it takes twenty one days to change a habit. So before those twenty one days expire, take a look at some of these great books to help you stay on – or get back on – the right tracks
Eight Books to help Achieve Your Goals…
The one to help you get on track
Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers
This is a classic. Anyone embarking on change – or having change embarked upon them – should read this book. I quoted the title for years before reading it and when I finally read it I wondered why I hadn’t done so sooner. So many of us stall in the things we want to achieve because we worry about failing. This book guides the reader through those disruptive behaviour patterns and shows how changing your mindset can really change your life.
The one to help you stay on track
Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith
Understanding how habits are formed and why we do what we do is key to creating long term change. Marshall Goldsmith is a psychologist and executive coach, and his books are extremely readable. Triggers will give you a perspective on why you react to certain things in certain ways, which in turn will help you to break bad habits and creating positive behavioural change.
The one to keep you on the wagon
The 28 Day Alcohol Free Challenge by Andy Ramage and Ruari Fairbairns
Talking of habit change…I have decided to do a 90 day no alcohol challenge this year. It was just going to be dry January, but I thought I’d stretch it a bit longer to see how I felt. So far it’s been 21 days, a wedding, a christening, a (boozy) Burns Night and several dinners out…and it’s been far easier than I had thought. Yes, I’ve got another 69 days to go, but rather than feeling like I’m desperate to get to the end, I’m actually enjoying not drinking.
This book has been really useful, mainly because it is so positive. It’s by the people behind the ‘One Year No Beer’ initiative, which kept popping up on my social media; Ramage and Fairbairns were previously were big social drinkers and they found that when they stopped drinking, their lives improved. It’s about mindset change – not thinking about not drinking as a denial of something you want, but focussing on what you GAIN by not drinking. Namely more money, more time, more energy…less beer belly.
I am not springing out of bed in the morning, nor do I feel like I have acres more time or enthusiasm (and I’m still waiting for the pounds to drop off) but I do feel better and would definitely recommend this book to anyone else wanting to change their drinking habits.
Because knowledge is power…
How Not to Die, by Dr Greger
Now, how’s that for a title? This book comes highly recommended from a very good friend who has recently turned her lifestyle around and reaped the benefits. The author, Dr Greger, is an American physician whose interest in medicine and nutrition was sparked by his Grandmother; after several heart bypasses she switched to a plant based diet and lived for another thirty years.
The main difference with this book is that Greger uses scientific evidence to explore the relationship between disease and diet, and then gives the reader practical tips on how to make effective changes.
This is no light read; its more of a reference book. But there is nothing like cold hard facts to help us see why we should make changes to what we put in our bodies…and this book also helps us with how to make those changes. For further practical tips there is also a cookbook
If you’ve struggled with mental health…or know someone who has
Reasons to Stay Alive, by Matt Haig
So, basically that’s ALL OF US. Everyone should read this book. Matt Haig is a wonderful writer – I came to this after reading his brilliant novel How To Stop Time. Haig suffered from debilitating depression and anxiety. Reasons to Stay Alive is a memoir recounting his illness and how he ultimately found a way through it and, more than that, how he learned to really live. The fact that we can’t see mental illness makes it hard for us to understand, but this book shows us how it feels to be in that dark place and is ultimately very inspiring.
There are so many brilliant quotes in this book and so much wisdom (and loads about the power of books and reading which, of course, I love). But my favourite is possibly this:
“No drug in the universe will make you feel better, at the deepest level, than being kind to other people.”
This book is an ode to the power of mindfulness, of kindness, of being in the moment, of dialling down all the other ‘stuff’ that clutters our lives and our minds.
On the importance of being in the moment
The Power of Now, by Ekhart Tolle
Speaking of living in the present…The Power of Now has a very simple message. Living in the now is the truest path to happiness and enlightenment.
Now this is not a new message, but Tolle’s writing is clear, enthusiastic and supportive. There is a difference to hearing a message and really listening. Tolle helps us to really listen to what living in the now truly means, and how it can really help us to improve our lives.
One for when your finances need a healthcheck
The Barefoot Investor, by Scott Pape
One of my friends is an absolute whiz with personal finance and budgeting. However, that wasn’t always the case. This is the book she credits for turning her attitude to money around and getting her finances in great shape.
And one for all those questions on ‘belonging’
Braving The Widerness by Bené Brown
Bené Brown has a huge following; she is a social scientist and a wonderful storyteller. I find her books really get to the heart of things and are unflinchingly honest. This particular book, which talks about disconnection and belonging, seems apt for expats:
‘True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires to be who we are.’
New books for 2019 – on my TBR list
I think you’re wrong (but I’m listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations by Sarah Stewart Holland & Beth Silvers
In the current global political climate this seems like it should be required reading…
Here’s the blurb from the publisher:
‘More than ever, politics seems driven by conflict and anger. People sitting together in pews every Sunday have started to feel like strangers, loved ones at the dinner table like enemies. Toxic political dialogue, hate-filled rants on social media, and agenda-driven news stories have become the new norm. It’s exhausting, and it’s too much.
In I Think You’re Wrong (But I’m Listening), two working moms from opposite ends of the political spectrum contend that there is a better way. They believe that we can
- choose to respect the dignity of every person,
- choose to recognize that issues are nuanced and can’t be reduced to political talking points,
- choose to listen in order to understand,
- choose gentleness and patience.’
Release date: February 5th 2019
Under Pressure, Lisa Damour
I have two pre-teen daughters and every time I read the news I see alarming statistics on girls’ mental health. This book, by the author of the bestselling Untangled, seems definitely worth a read.
From the publisher,
‘Though anxiety has risen among young people overall, studies confirm that it has skyrocketed in girls. Research finds that the number of girls who said that they often felt nervous, worried, or fearful jumped 55 percent from 2009 to 2014, while the comparable number for adolescent boys has remained unchanged. As a clinical psychologist who specializes in working with girls, Lisa Damour, Ph.D., has witnessed this rising tide of stress and anxiety in her own research, in private practice, and in the all-girls’ school where she consults. She knew this had to be the topic of her new book.’
Release date February 12th 2019
I hope there is something here to help you with your intentions! Have you read any of these or do you plan to? I’d love to hear from you!