Unbelievable! I thought when I saw this book. The great and powerful BJ Fogg has finally written a book!!! This guy’s research on habit formation is mentioned constantly by other writers, and I used to wonder how they were able to get this special access. How Tiny Habits finally got written is addressed in the book, and it’s like meta-proof that this stuff works.
Of course habits have nothing to do with how fascinating, moving, and endearing this book is.
Personally I’m pretty good at starting and stopping habits, as soon as I realize what it is that I want to do. Tiny Habits had an interesting explanation for why that might be. I often do a little dance, make up a little song, jump up and down, or otherwise physically express how excited I am that I did a small thing, like hitting Send on an email that I struggled to write. Apparently this is the key to building a habit, teaching the brain that YES, this is the right step. Then I realized that I picked up this habit from my mom and it cheered me right up.
This book is loaded with diagrams and exercises that I found truly helpful. It’s designed for someone to learn it and also teach it to others, such as a team at work. I particularly liked the brainstorming method of the Swarm of Behaviors. The lists of sample habits aimed at people in different situations is terrific, and I think the list of little ways to celebrate is best of all.
Tiny Habits is based on years of extensive research, and it’s been tested on real people with real, shall we say, situations. It works on the tough stuff, like caregiving, grief, parenting for special needs, and health issues. It also works on the more light-hearted stuff, like wanting to eat ice cream every night. Amazingly, Fogg even includes research on how to help other people build their habits.
It is no surprise that Tiny Habits hit the bestseller list. I fully expect this book to stay in print for many years, to go through multiple editions, and to help millions of people create positive changes in their lives. Starting with me, and, I’m hoping you’re next!
There’s nothing wrong with taking bold action. Life and happiness occasionally demand it. But remember that you hear about people making big changes because this is the exception, not the rule.
One of my personal themes for the last year has been to “strengthen others in all my interactions.”
Creative Calling is an incredible book. Chase Jarvis, founder of CreativeLive, shares everything he knows about creativity, building a life as a working artist, and dealing with failure, procrastination, and resistance. It feels like the sort of book you could just keep next to you as you work, occasionally touching the cover for reassurance.
Our culture somehow values all kinds of creative work with massive amounts of money, fame, and material support, while also doing its best to browbeat creative impulses out of people. I live in Southern California, and frequently visit Las Vegas, Nevada, and what both of these areas have in common is that they reliably churn out billions of dollars of entertainment sales. Working in the arts has the highest ceiling of almost any field. Yet we’re trained to doubt ourselves and feel that working in a creative field is unrealistic. “Don’t quit your day job.” It’s nuts.
A young artist repeated some of this pushback to me. We happened to be standing in the middle of Powell’s Books, a veritable temple of proof that writing pays. She didn’t think she could make a living as the extremely talented illustrator that she already is. I waved my arm around in a wide circle, pointing out that tens of thousands of books and products around us all, each and every one, had a professionally designed cover. Where do they come from? Even humdrum consumer products still have art on the label. Proof is all around us and we still struggle to believe that art is work.
I have two pieces of advice for hopeful creatives. One. Don’t tell naysayers about your projects. Two. Read Creative Calling. When in doubt, repeat.
Choosing to pursue every creative interest is equivalent to abandoning them all.
Who says you can’t do those things? And what have those naysayers ever done themselves?
When artists can’t figure out how to pay the bills, we all lose.
Your life is not a democracy.
Productivity has become a self-help institution that deals with the symptoms rather than the cause of our problems.
What you’re really struggling with is the willingness to value as-yet-unmade work.
If you want to understand your true priorities, look at two things: your calendar and your bank statement.
All you have to do is follow instructions and do the work.
It’s January, the best month to DO NOTHING except explore, learn, and develop your curiosity about goals and resolutions. I’m proud to say that I haven’t really done anything toward my annual goals yet, just like most years. This is because of everything I’ve learned about “productivity” and habit formation over the years. Perfection be gone! Death to unbroken streaks!
The War of Art utterly changed my life. You can read it in one sitting, or you can listen to it on audio like I did and walk around with your mouth hanging open.
For those of us who want to DO ALL THE THINGS at the same time, multipotentialites who struggle to stay focused, generally people who feel stretched too thin - try The One Thing,
There is no way to read Better Than Before without finding several helpful insights. Plus Gretchen is a really sweet person with a gentle approach.
Getting Things Done is the one to show off at work, although only after you’ve read the first couple of chapters. This is an analog sort of book and I don’t really agree with Allen’s tech-free focus; that being said, it’s great for pencil-and-paper people.
This book helped me see that Getting Organized actually mattered. I didn’t really see the point of it all before I read this. It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys, indeed.
The one true clutter book! I have this practically memorized. Flip through it and read any section of any page.
It was inevitable that I would read this book. All my favorite writers talk about Marie Forleo all the time. Most of them thank her in the acknowledgements. Who IS this woman? I thought.
Then I read Everything is Figureoutable and found out what the fuss was about.
This is an incredibly motivating book. It is packed with examples of Forleo’s students solving problems from their lives, and sharing the thought process they went through when they realized that they actually had the power to do something about their situation.
The book takes on skeptics, starting with the very concept that everything is indeed figureoutable. I like this approach. As a coach, I find that people on the low end of the readiness scale spend a lot of time venting, telling others that they “don’t know what it’s like,” and exclaiming that they’ve “tried everything.” Meanwhile someone who has resolved the very same problem in the recent past may be sitting right there, waving for their attention. Everything is Figureoutable but contrarians don’t want to believe it, or admit it.
Perfectionist? Procrastinator? Naysayer? Give it a look. Literally what is the worst that could happen?
If you’re hell-bent on looking for reasons why this won’t work, congratulations. It won’t. But neither will anything else.
No matter what you believe your limitations are, I promise that if you look hard enough, you’ll find someone with more challenges than you.
There are two kinds of people in the world: those with reasons and those with results.
Embrace the fact that if you were powerful enough to create an overcommitted and overstretched life, you’re powerful enough to uncreate it.
If you had to find the time, you would.
You never get stronger if you only do easy things.
Ten Years a Nomad is an honest account of what it is like to travel full-time, passing through over 90 countries over a decade. Nomadic Matt, as he is known, took off to live the dream. Anyone who is considering the same would do well to read his story.
The travel bug caught him the way it catches so many of us. Work a boring job and commute in the snow and it doesn’t take long to want something different. (It’s somewhat the opposite when you live in a sunny beach community; you know that every resort area and vacation destination is full of obnoxious drunks leaving trash and breaking glass). The guy who was not yet Nomadic Matt booked a two-week vacation, a temporary escape from dissatisfaction.
What he discovered was that travel allowed him to assume a persona who was more confident and adventurous than he was at home. Nobody knew him and he was free to behave however he liked. It wasn’t just an external but an internal adventure.
Ten Years a Nomad is full of practical details that can really help a wannabe nomad figure out how to get started. He talks about meeting people on the road, breaking the news to his family that he quit his job to travel full time, and how he built his business. He shares some savings strategies, such as living off PBJ sandwiches and then cutting out even the jelly. He describes dealing with scams and the frustrating, boring parts of travel.
(It really helps when you assume from the very beginning that you’ll spend hours standing in line, that something traumatizing will happen in security, that something will leak in your luggage, your flight will be delayed, and that’s before you even leave! Then, whenever something actually goes smoothly you can feel excited and lucky).
Matthew Kepnes offers a fascinating, compelling, and achievable vision of the nomadic life. He also makes a convincing case that maybe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Try it if you like, you can do it if you want to, but remember that you bring yourself with you. Also remember that other people travel from “over there” to wherever you live. Pack a copy of Ten Years a Nomad to read on your next trip.
When I planned the trip, there was no sense that I was also planning to change my life, that my trip would be the first step to a rejection of nearly everything and everyone I had ever known.
I don’t know if who we are on the road is closer to our real self than who we are at home—having changed so much in my life, I’m not sure if the idea of a real self is all that useful, honestly.
It was on the road that I felt most at ease, most alive, and, most importantly, happy.
HERE’S ONE THING THAT IS CERTAIN about travel: All your plans will go out the window.
Ultralearning is the concept of “deep, aggressive self-education,” according to author Scott Young. It is the idea that it is possible to learn far more, more quickly, through a self-designed program than it is in a formal educational program. Young is making his point, over and over again, by creating and documenting his own ultralearning projects. It’s a form of stunt journalism. This book is a comprehensive manual for learning how to ultralearn.
Probably what is most interesting about ultralearning, besides the fact that it is going to turn education and professional credentials permanently upside down, is that it can be applied to any project. One of the steps is to figure out your own curriculum. That could obviously be applied to any subject from automotive repair to applying false eyelashes (which actually sounds more complicated to me).
Young includes examples from other ultralearners, to give a sense of the scope and power of this process. Roger Craig built an ultralearning project and won $77,000 on the game show Jeopardy!. Eric Barone learned to code and created a video game called Stardew Valley that sold over three million copies. Young himself completed his own MIT Challenge, launching a series of ultralearning projects that may never end!
There is a debate surrounding ultralearning, namely whether a self-study project can actually get you anywhere in the “real world.” Ahem. The inside of your own mind is a part of the real world and always will be. Education matters even if nobody but you ever finds out about it. Ultralearning includes examples of individuals who used ultralearning projects to earn university degrees, pass exams, get promotions, earn official language learning certificates, and attain other credentials. It is certainly not limited to the autodidact.
This is why ultralearning is about to change everything.
Employers are constantly complaining that they can’t find qualified employees, partly because they now expect to hire everyone pre-trained, when 50 years ago more than 90% of training was done on the job. At the same time, almost nobody can afford vocational training, much less a full university education or post-graduate work. The system is failing everyone and driving over a trillion dollars in debt. For what?
Ultralearning is a chance for someone like me, from a blue-collar family, to rise up and outcompete a complacent kid from an upper-middle-class background. Almost nothing beats grit. Grit combined with internet access and the strategies and methodology of ultralearning, that’s what will change the world.
Being an ultralearner doesn’t imply that everything one learns has to be done in the most aggressive and dramatic fashion possible.
You know when you’re procrastinating, so just get started.
Financial Freedom is a book about financial independence for those who are ready to look at the numbers. This is a practical handbook. It’s particularly ideal for someone who wants to convince a skeptical partner to give FI a closer look.
As a non-math person, I like that Financial Freedom includes lookup tables of numbers. It doesn’t require a calculator, which is good because I’m the kind of person who can get four different answers for the same math problem. Fortunately, financial independence is possible for anyone, regardless of numeracy.
Sabatier starts the book with a copy of his bank statement, containing $2.26, while he is back living with his parents after a layoff. At one point he counts up how much he had earned at his last job, after taxes, and compares it to the credit card balance he had run up. He doesn’t say it in so many words, but effectively he’s come out ahead by only $2.50 an hour. Whatever was going on with his full-time work/standard consumer lifestyle, it wasn’t working and it sure didn’t look much like financial freedom.
Five years later he was a millionaire.
I’m guessing that part does NOT sound so familiar.
Not everyone wants or needs to be a millionaire, and most people won’t feel that it’s possible for them when they start. Sabatier outlines seven levels of financial freedom, starting with simple clarity, and none of these levels has a specific dollar amount attached. It depends on your personal situation. The author started with no knowledge and a bunch of debt, and one year later he had seven income streams and $100,000 in savings. It can happen fast if you figure out how to do it.
Most people probably spend more time, in minutes, figuring out what movie to watch than they do looking over their accounts or planning a financial strategy. We have the free time, we have the intelligence, we certainly have the desire to be free of stress and struggle. All we’re missing are the role models and the plan, and Grant Sabatier is here to help with both.
No matter how much money you owe, there’s a path out and a path to wealth.
I’m just going to come out and say it—most people who are side hustling, especially when they are first starting out, charge way too little for their services or products.
The next time you think about buying something, ask yourself, Is this worth trading my freedom for?
If you haven’t already seen the cover of Fair Play popping out everywhere you go, you soon will. Tucked under arms, clutched on mass transit, sliding off a passenger seat, maybe even on your spouse’s bedside table. Equity in household bandwidth is an extremely hot topic these days, with good reason, and Eve Rodsky’s book is a user-friendly take on the subject. Because it’s made into a game, it can be put into use without both parties needing to take a highlighter to it.
(Other titles on this issue, like Gemma Hartley’s Fed Up or Megan Stack’s Women’s Work, are going to be a much harder sell to a recalcitrant, unreformed mate and may not be as easy to implement).
The premise of Fair Play is that in traditional households, even when both parents work full-time jobs, the mom typically gets stuck doing 2/3 of household labor. This appears to be true even when she both earns more money and works longer hours. Yikes! Natural results: resentment, exhaustion, fighting, and perhaps even divorce.
Fair Play not only has a system for diving tasks, it also has scripts to follow for introducing the idea, getting buy-in, dealing with problems, et cetera.
In my experience with two chore-doing and dinner-cooking husbands, the direct approach and clear, specific requests really do work. “I’m doing X, Y, and Z before our friends get here, so will you do A, B, and C?” “Would you rather do Chore 1 or Chore 2?” Various men in my life (roommates, dad, brothers, travel buddies) are often more efficient than I am, and many of them have been objectively better at cooking and cleaning. Credit where it’s due. Division of labor tends to be far, far more about how it is structured, incentives, and communication than it is about motivation or competence.
The incentive part of Fair Play is that both partners get Unicorn Time, which in research is referred to as High Quality Leisure Time. This is so huge and so important! My husband and I build our schedule around our hobbies, classes, club memberships, workouts, vacations, and favorite weekend activities, with the understanding that we can easily fit housework and errands into the crevices that remain. We take turns cooking, not because it’s fair, but because we both specialize in certain dishes that we prefer to eat “our way.” Done right, housework can go virtually unmentioned because it feels like it handles itself.
While Fair Play is a truly great starting place for happier homes, happier kids, and unhappier divorce attorneys, there is one area where it could be improved. That is including kids in the gamification of the household. This book will work for couples with infants and toddlers, sure. In my opinion, any child old enough to play sports or have after-school activities is also old enough to start learning some skills. I didn’t love chores as a kid, nobody does, but it turns out that childhood chores were the reason my husband, brothers, and I all know how to keep house as adults.
Let all adults feel equally competent and equally free of drudgery and bickering!
The hours of my life are as valuable as yours and we both get to make choices about how we use our time.
As it is with time, happiness is an equal right.
What is fair is not always equal and what is equal is not always fair, so don’t expect a 50/50 split. The goal of Fair Play is equity, not equality.
Recognize that you and your partner have already been communicating about domestic responsibilities, just not in the most positive or constructive way.
I have to admit, when I read the title of this book, I heard it as a disembodied voice calling me to account for some nebulous crime and asking ME, personally, Why Won’t You Apologize? I felt defensive! Even without anything or anyone specific in mind, I was sure that someone out there felt wronged by me, felt that they deserved an apology from me. Other may wonder if, instead, Harriet Lerner is advocating for them and asking that special villain, hey, Why Won’t You Apologize? Yeah, So-and-So, tell me you’re sorry! Forgiveness sounds beautiful right up until it’s time to actually forgive. Either way, this book definitely has something for everyone.
One of the best parts of Lerner’s book is the inside view it offers into other people’s scandals and private dramas. It really helps to put our own gossip into the appropriate context. Hypothetically, I can look at my divorce and be mad, or I can think, well, at least he didn’t cheat on me and get another woman pregnant... There are examples of all sorts of behavior, from the petty and comedic to the dark and deep, and how apologies were botched or done well.
Why Won’t You Apologize? has a more or less comprehensive catalog of fake, shoddy, sham pseudo-apologies with explanations of why they are D- or F-grade homework. These include the Mystifying Apology, “I’m sorry but,” “I’m sorry you feel that way,” and the rest of the gang. The explanations of exactly why non-apologies are so much worse than nothing are very helpful. At last we can clarify our feelings. Knowing these are universal tendencies and that being sloppy, lame, and uncool about apologizing applies to everyone can maybe close the loop on past hurts.
Culturally we are in a very weird place with apologies. The same person who feels slighted all the time and carries many grievances is likely also to be cruddy at apologizing, or even to be a passionate defender of the belief in never apologizing for anything, ever, at all. Being able to admit when you are wrong is a marker of adulthood and also a marker of intelligence. It’s not like refusing to apologize will keep people from noticing that you are sometimes in the wrong!
The best thing that we can do is to learn how to make graceful and effective apologies, because that’s how we demonstrate how it’s done. Give what you wish to receive. Let’s everyone read Why Won’t You Apologize? Then we can pass around our copies at Thanksgiving for some wholesome family fun.
Being too sorry can be a covert form of defensiveness.
No person can be more honest with us than they can be with their own self.
How do you find peace when the hurt you’ve suffered will never be acknowledged or repaired by the one who inflicted it?
Letting go of anger and hate requires us to give up the hope for a different past, along with the hope of a fantasized future.
Ryan Holiday has mastered the art of making the wisdom of antiquity sound and feel current. It’s incredible to think how many fantastic books he has already written, and even more so to think that they just keep leafing out of him like a fruit tree. Stillness is the Key to his writing prowess and your autumn reading list.
Stillness is hardly a hip, cutting-edge quality. It’s the missing piece we had no idea we were missing. One might think that in an age when apps and labor-saving appliances can do everything for us, we’d have copious leisure time that we could use to cultivate tranquility. Instead it seems that the faster we can go, the slower we feel we’re going.
I have a robot vacuum cleaner and a personal secretary in my pocket that can take dictation. Does this help me feel peace of mind? Laws, no. Why not, though?
Holiday has answers for this, timeless answers that paradoxically make even more sense now than they did in the past. (Isn’t it funny that a man who advocates for stillness goes through life with the name ‘Holiday’?) Take the time to pause and reflect. Take the time to remind yourself of your values and whether you are living up to yourself. Take care of yourself before you burn out.
At one point in the book, Holiday discusses having a higher power. I always thought it was funny that so many people get hung up on this, because to me it is a one hundred percent secular and rational concept. Most powers are higher than me, and I couldn’t be more grateful. When I get my teeth cleaned, my dental hygienist is my higher power. When I read a book, both the author and the publisher are higher powers, powers that do things I cannot do. I also don’t have to make the plants grow, take charge of gravity, or even remind myself to breathe when I’m asleep. Of course my puny human mind is not the highest power! Why would anyone think that, or want that?
Stillness is the Key to so many good things in life. Whatever you are missing, if you’re modern, it’s probably sleep, time for strategic thinking, and tranquility among everything else. This is a great companion, a book to carry around with you or keep next to your bed, a book to read when you could use a pause from the business of everyday life.
We sign up for endless activities and obligations, chase money and accomplishments, all with the naïve belief that at the end of it will be happiness.
Who is so certain that they’ll get another moment that they can confidently skip over this one?
Both egotistical and insecure people make their flaws central to their identity—either by covering them up or by brooding over them or externalizing them.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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