It’s resolution season, when we all have a fresh start, a clean slate, and plenty of good intentions.
But if you actually want to keep those resolutions, it’s time to get serious about forming the right habits and minding the right things. These 15 inspiring and practical books are focused on our most common collective resolutions, and they’ll help you do just that.
15 books to help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions
You can’t beat this lavishly illustrated compendium from Design Sponge founder Grace Bonney for creative inspiration. The book profiles 100 women of diverse ages, races, and industries—restauranteurs, chefs, potters, television hosts, designers, photographers, choreographers—photographing them in their workspaces, and sharing stories from their lives and businesses. The best kind of inspiration, in a display-worthy volume. More info →
This excellent guide begins with the premise that negativity is normal: bad stuff happens in life, and we need to figure out how to deal with it. This book covers how. David combines science and storytelling to show how to use tiny tweaks, her teeter-totter principle, and the valuable feedback of real emotions to get unstuck and implement positive changes. I especially appreciated the chapter on raising emotionally agile children. More info →
This practical and inspiring guide will help you actually get control of your calendar. Vanderkam’s no-nonsense, no-excuses approach to time management just might convince you that you actually have time to accomplish anything you really want to do in 2018, when you focus on your core competencies and stop frittering away your time. To get the most out of this book you must do the time diary exercise—it just might change your life. For more reading-specific tips and inspiration, listen to me chat with author Laura Vanderkam in this new episode of What Should I Read Next (#113). More info →
This is my book, y’all, and it’s an excellent choice if you want to better manager yourself and improve your relationships in 2018. (I love how Bella of Louisville called this book her «weapon of choice» for building her mind and spirit for the year ahead.) For readers who long to dig deeper into what makes them uniquely them (and why that matters), Reading People explains the life-changing insights that can be gained from the most popular personality frameworks, such as Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder, Enneagram, and others and shares specific, practical real-life applications across all facets of life, including love and marriage, productivity, parenting, the workplace, and spiritual life. Pick up this book to figure out what you’re REALLY like, and discover what exactly that means for you. In December, Bustle featured this as a fascinating nonfiction book to give the reader who already has basically everything on their shelves. More info →
This is a terrific book no matter what your specific resolutions are, and one I keep coming back to. In it, Duhigg unpacks why we do what we do, and how we can choose to do differently, if we so desire. In other words, habits can be built, and they can be changed. Duhigg explores the science that explains how in this readable book, and explains how to put these methods into practice in your own life. Don’t miss the excellent appendix, a reader’s guide to using the ideas in the book. More info →
This book provides excellent encouragement and hand-holding to strengthen and deepen your most important relationships in the year to come. In her new work, Brown tackles what she calls our current «spiritual crisis of disconnection.» We don’t know what it means to belong anymore, or why it matters, or how to experience true connection—and we are suffering for it. She sets out four practices of true belonging, explains how we can practice them in our own lives, and shares heaps of stories so we can see what they look like in practice. A timely read, and a good one. More info →
For each month of a school year, September to May, Rubin focuses on one theme crucial to family happiness—themes like parenthood, possessions, love, and marriage—reflects on why it’s so important, and offers tips and inspiration for intentionally creating more happiness at home. She also focuses on the overlooked sources of happiness that are already there, as well as common happiness stumbling blocks. More info →
This easy-to-use how-to guide is based on the highly successful marathon class offered by the University of Northern Iowa, which was featured in a Runner’s World article titled «Marathoning 101.» (That’s how I first heard about the book, many years ago.) The authors call their program marathon running for real people, and their premise is simple: by following the 16-week, 4-day a week workout plan, YOU can finish a marathon. I appreciated both the plan and the many, many stories of real students’ actual training. More info →
If you’re trying to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life, this is the book for you. Parker Palmer writes with warmth and wisdom about his own journey to finding his true vocation: the work he was uniquely made to do. His story is deeply personal, inspiring, and moving. This is one of those books I keep coming back to. More info →
This book (our MMD Book Club January flight pick) will inspire you to shake up your creative routine in the year to come. The concept couldn’t be simpler: Currey lays out the daily routines of 237 writers, composers, painters, choreographers, playwrights, poets, philosophers, sculptors, filmmakers, and scientists. Read it straight through, or pursue each artist’s daily rhythms at leisure. Take inspiration where you find it, and return to its pages again and again when you’re feeling stalled or stymied in your work. More info →
A decorating book that’s much more than a decorating book. Myquillyn Smith walks the reader through all fourteen (!!!) homes she’s lived in as an adult, explaining how she learned to create a beautiful home despite the many limitations. Her mantra is «it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful,» and she’ll fill you with confidence that you, too can create a beautiful, welcoming home that also feels lived-in and loved-on, despite your own lovely limitations. Practical and inspiring. More info →
Relatable and wise. I very much enjoyed (and at times felt painfully convicted by) this book, which explores: what listening really is (it’s probably not what you think), why it’s worth doing, and why it’s so terribly important in a culture that never stops talking. More info →
There’s not a bad time to read Cal Newport’s battle cry to reclaim our attention, but the first month of the year is an especially welcome time. You’ll learn what deep work is, why it matters, what prevents you from doing it, and how you can incorporate more truly meaningful work into your life. This is an excellent read for anyone who wants to thoughtfully examine their priorities, their working habits, or their relationship with social media. More info →
Eating well is a foundational habit: people who eat right find it much easier to follow through in other areas of their lives. I’ve logged a half dozen or so Whole30s, and found the experience so valuable I’m tempted to urge everyone to try it at least once. This practical, sensible guide from the Whole30 creators shows you everything you need to know, and will make you feel like you CAN do this. (Read more about my personal Whole30 experience here). More info →
Click here to check out last year’s 9 books for your New Year’s resolutions.
Want to start focusing on those new goals immediately? These shorter MMD blog posts on habits, goals, and time management will help you get right to it:
• Planning for visual types. Years later, I’m still implementing a version of this system. I really struggled with organization until I realized I was a visual type.
• 3 time management rules I wish I’d learned ten years ago. They may be obvious to some, but it took me a whole decade to figure out these 3 rules. Hopefully, that means someone will find a shortcut today.
• Forget about results: my new approach to goal setting.Progress over perfect, because sometimes SMART goals aren’t so smart.It’s been gratifying to see so many current New Year’s articles encouraging us to focus on processes over goals.
• The Fab Four habits for a better life. Want to create new habits, but not sure where to start? These four foundational habits greatly affect your well-being, directly strengthen your self-control, and should be your first priority.
What are your favorite books on this list? Which titles would you add to it? Tell us all about it in comments!
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