books & tools

7 Books That Changed My Life – And Might Change Yours, Too

July 27, 2018

Reading Time: 5 minutes

READ TIME: 4.5 MINUTES

If we’re Instagram pals, you know I’m a fan of sharing 15-second book recs by way of Instagram stories from time to time.

You’d probably never guess that just a few years ago – in 2015 – I only read ONE book the entire year.

ONE.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

Christmas 2014 – I’d just moved from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, started a job at a PR firm putting out fires for clients in the crisis communications division – and was feeling very out of sorts in my new city. So I asked my boyfriend – now husband – for that book for Christmas. I was hoping it – with the word Happiness in the title – would pull me out of the frazzled, down-in-the-dumps feeling that came around all too frequently.

Then, I started listening to Rubin’s podcast on the reg – usually while getting ready for work in the morning. And when she announced her next book, Better Than Before, at the end of 2015, I gave it a shot.

Little did I know that Better Than Before would be JUST the kick in the pants I needed – and that it would create the domino effect that got me out of a slump and into living a live I’d only dreamed of. 

So today, I’m sharing the 7 books – including Better Than Before – that have made HUGE impacts in my life over the last three years. These are my Top 7 recommendations for anyone looking for inspiration, looking to make big changes and looking for a better way at home, in your career or in your personal life.

1. BETTER THAN BEFORE BY GRETCHEN RUBIN

The Happiness Project led me to Better Than Before, but Better Than Before most certainly was the starting point for the positive changes I’ve experienced in the last few years. BTB is all about habits.

  • Deciding what habits you want to form

  • How to make something a habit

  • Strategies for sticking to habits

  • Why it’s hard to make ourselves do things even when we know we should do them

  • The lies we tell ourselves and loopholes we create to break good habits

BTB also introduces The Four Tendencies: Rebels, Obligers, Questioners and Upholders. Your Tendency describes how you respond to expectations and this plays a big role in the type of accountability you need to stick to your habits.

I’m a Questioner – and knowing that helps me set myself up for success with habits and routines. 

2. THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP BY MARIE KONDO

When I made the move from Baton Rouge to New Orleans in 2014 – I also downsized from a 1500 square foot apartment to a 720 square foot duplex (aka “double” in Nola-speak). I had more stuff than space – and after Scott and I tied the knot in August 2016 – the space got even tighter. Enter the storage unit.

Finally I got sick of having stuff everywhere. A closet bursting at the seams. Overflowing kitchen cabinets

So I picked up The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up to see what the fuss was about.

204 pages, 12 trash bags and 7 boxes later, I’d amassed a pretty substantial donation to the Junior League of New Orleans’ Bloomin’ Deals Thrift Shop and cleared out possibly a decade of physical and mental clutter.

Yes – this book completely reframed the way I think about possessions and “stuff” in general.

It’s made getting dressed in the morning infinitely easier – because I LOVE everything I own and can SEE everything because it’s not crammed together.

Shopping for clothes? Also easier. I also shop a lot less frequently because I’m happy with what I have.

It made packing, moving and unpacking our things in our new home easier.

Decorating our home? Also easier – because I only buy things that bring me joy. If I’m on the fence, or if I hesitate, then it’s a big NOPE.

3. THE ONE THING BY GARY KELLER

This book opens with the Russian proverb

“If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.”

The One Thing is about focus. Something that I struggle with EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

I remember writing in a senior essay that my life’s goal was to be as well-rounded as possible. Which in my seventeen-year-old world meant meant doing and trying as many things that time could possibly provide for. What I didn’t consider, is that in order to actually get GOOD at something – to really master something – you have to focus on that one thing.

This book is all about that focus. And honestly, I wasn’t really into it for the first few chapters. But it grew on me.

And then Chapter 15 changed my life.

Particularly with the line “Great success shows up when time is devoted every day to becoming great.”

Seems like a generic throw-away line, but it hit me hard. I looked at my days and realized that I was never going to make any kind of progress unless I actually spent time working toward it.

It wasn’t just going to happen.

4. 168 HOURS: YOU HAVE MORE TIME THAN YOU THINK BY LAURA VANDERKAM

The saying, “You have just as many hours in the day as Beyonce,” has always bothered me.

Sure – Beyonce and I both have the same 24 hours in a day… but she has assistants and nannies and publicists and a million other people in her squad that make things happen.

I’m just me, and while I call Penelope (my yorkie) my Chief of Staff… she really just naps all day and lets me know when the mailman’s here. She’s not exactly doing bookkeeping or onboarding new clients.

If The One Thing taught me to focus and spend time on what matters, then 168 Hours gave me the tools and actionable strategies for actually finding that time – like my friends Automation, Delegation and Elimination.

Vanderkam also has a great book called I Know How She Does It, which is basically 168 Hours with a focus on many of the challenges that women face as stewards of the home and business/career women. I listened on that one on Audible and suggest you pick either 168 Hours or I Know How She Does It – but don’t worry about reading both since they’re so similar. 

5. THE MIRACLE MORNING BY HAL ELROD

If you’re not a “morning person” – this is the book for you. But here’s the thing – this book isn’t just 130 pages of how to take up in the morning.

Nope. It’s filled with WHY you should be using your morning hours and HOW to use them in order to make yourself a better person. He outlines the different elements of a well-rounded, impactful morning routine. Things like meditation, exercise, affirmations, reading, etc.

For a while earlier this year – I regularly started my mornings at 5AM, was at the gym by 6 and ready to start working by 7:30. It felt amazing – and I should start doing it again. Lately, I’ve been doing an abbreviated version of the Miracle Morning a bit later than 5AM – and my days just go better whenever I make a point to work through the routine. 

6. YOUR BEST YEAR EVER BY MICHAEL HYATT

I talked about this book in my post about goal-setting tools, but it deserves a mention on this list, too.

Your Best Year Ever is about defining success – as in, what it means to you. Not what it means to your mom or your friend Patty or society in general. And then creating an action plan to achieve that success while tapping into your core motivations and beliefs. It 100% helped me jump start 2018 and maintain an attitude of forward movement and being open to possibilities.

7. BUILDING A STORYBRAND BY DONALD MILLER

This book will be most applicable to my marketing and small business friends. I seriously think I learned more about storytelling and messaging from this book than I did while earning a degree in Mass Communications or working at a top PR firm in New Orleans.

This book is for you if

  • You have a business and get stuck writing your own website copy or social media captions

  • You work with a nonprofit that has trouble explaining its mission to stakeholders like donors, members or the general public

  • You work in public relations, advertising or marketing and want to serve your clients better.

I am forever and always looking for new book recommendations, so if you’ve read something lately that really sparked a fire for you, pop it into the comments!

What will it take you to get from chaos to calm?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Search the Show Notes

Hey Anna! I'm looking for an episode about...

Hey Anna! I'm looking for an episode about...