As a tourist in the land of mornings, I appreciated this book. It’s much more about starting your day on a positive note than it is “rah rah, get up at 4:30 AM.” After reading My Morning Routine, it seems that there is a strong correlation between people choosing to own their morning and people who actually get enough sleep.
Much like Mason Currey’s book Daily Routines, this book includes a very broad range of behavior. Sixty-four people are interviewed from all walks of life. Not only is it a fascinating peek into the intimate lives of others, it’s also a solid demonstration that not everybody has to do the same thing in order to succeed.
Having battled sleep issues since the age of seven, I will probably never consider myself a “morning person.” I fell in love with an extreme lark, though, and I’ve gradually learned to shape a morning routine. My husband and our dog both wake up bright-eyed and bushy tailed at 5:30 AM, without an alarm, seven days a week. He has his routine down to 27 minutes, and he prefers that I’m not up and around at that time because it makes him want to hang out and talk to me. I sleep until 7:30 or 8, and I need at least 45 minutes to get ready. If I haven’t had a shower and eaten a big hot breakfast, I’m useless. Walking into walls, virtually drooling on myself, that kind of useless. This is why I make my bed every day, to give my vestibular system a chance to get me vertical. I support my chronotype by organizing my stuff, my schedule, and my to-do list in the evening. I know not to plan any creative or mentally challenging work early in the day, just as I know not to expect my mate to make decisions or have important conversations late at night.
The diversity of habits in My Morning Routine, and the reasons for them, are sometimes astonishing. One person sets an alarm to wake up early, even if she hasn’t had much sleep, and then spends the early morning hours reading. ?!? Another person cuts articles out of a newspaper with scissors, (rather than bookmarking the digital version?), because it feels crafty. Another person plays jazz piano, and another rides a bicycle 45 miles to work a couple times a week. Someone else plays ping-pong with a ping-pong robot. That just cheered me right up!
A great feature of My Morning Routine is that it includes sections called Reversals. They show that for every habit that works for many or most people, the exact opposite seems to work for others. An example of this is hitting the snooze button. Snoozing makes most people more groggy and tired, but for a few others, it can create a pleasantly creative subliminal state.
I started developing a morning routine as a way of pushing away from stress and chaos. I would wake up feeling so physically terrible that I needed to do anything I could to make my life easier. I used to be late everywhere, always, and it left me feeling miserable, anxious, and incompetent. Adding more formal structure to my day has, paradoxically, been freeing and relaxing. Even on travel days, I can wake up knowing that I have a handle on things and that I’m not going to be launched immediately into crisis mode. Out of everything I do, being able to start the day with enough time for a fancy breakfast has become one of the highlights. If you’re like me, SO Not a Morning Person, maybe considering some of the ideas from My Morning Routine can bring some fresh perspective and a little hope.
I remember being little and going to sleep so excited to begin again.
I also try not to pointlessly stay up late.
If the day were to end after my routine, would it have been a successful and fulfilling day?
Sundays are my “delicious” days.
Remember: Done is better than perfect.
I think the most apt metaphor for my mornings is that of being shot out of a cannon.
Just the title of this book puts a jolt through me every time I look at it. Overcoming Underearning! Barbara Stanny teaches financial literacy, and she defines underearning as not reaching one’s earning potential. This probably applies to most people, because how do we know what our true earning potential might be? How do we know whether we have more in us or what heights we can reach? Of course, it definitely applies to the half of American men and women who feel underpaid. What if our underearning has its roots not just in external economic conditions, but in internal beliefs and assumptions?
Case in point: An acquaintance patches her income together from a variety of sources, including cleaning houses, pet-sitting, and other odd jobs. She doesn’t count her income by the month or the week, but literally by the day. Yet she related how she had cut her rates for her most demanding client, and then drove her an hour to the airport for free. For someone who needs to make every dollar count, why would she give discounts and free labor to someone who is difficult to work with? Especially when it takes up time she could be using to earn more money doing easier work? Overcoming Underearning points out that giving away our work for free is a common behavior.
According to the underearning quiz in the book, my acquaintance scores at least a 13/15 as an underearner. That’s based on things she has said directly to me, and it’s entirely possible she would agree with the other two if I asked. Yet she also has many of the traits of a high earner. That’s a paradox that, again, probably applies to most people. Why is it that working hard isn’t enough?
One of the most interesting insights in Overcoming Underearning was, for me, that high earners simply don’t identify with the way that underearners think about money. The rules and beliefs and structures that we put up around our careers, our finances, and our business decisions don’t make sense to them. This strongly implies that as long as we hold these beliefs, it doesn’t really matter what we do, because what we’re doing will not lead to promotions, wealth, being debt-free, or other goals.
Another great feature of the book was the list of Twelve Signs You’re in Resistance. This should be available on a poster, t-shirt, coffee mug, tote bag, and giant billboard directly across the street from my front door.
Barbara Stanny gets it. She’s clearly talked to so many hundreds of people, all of whom have their own special, inaccurate reasons why they should stay broke forever. She’s also seen the way that this information can transform someone almost overnight. This book deserves to be a classic.
I knew that staying stupid was not an option.
“If I admitted that I was an underearner... then I would need to do something about it.”
For every excuse you give me, I’ll show you someone in the same boat who is prospering.
“Don’t die with your gifts still inside.” Amber Rae’s book starts here, and for me at least, it was like a mallet ringing a huge gong. Whatever else we’re worried about, it should be drowned out by that imperative, that we fulfill our purpose during the time we have in this world. What is it about worry that it always manages to claim our attention? Choose Wonder Over Worry invites us to explore other ways of relating to our anxieties, ways that made me feel like someone had been reading my own personal diary. I couldn’t get enough of it.
First, Rae differentiates between toxic worry and useful worry. Useful worry helps us to figure out how to solve our problems, strategize, and make plans. Obviously keep doing that. Toxic worry, on the other hand, creates resistance and blocks us from living a full life. We tell ourselves stories about events and react based on negative feelings like shame and envy. While this may seem self-evident, it’s here that the book really starts to take off.
Some of the best elements of Choose Wonder Over Worry are the artwork and the journal prompts. There were a couple of these that I could really use in a poster format! For example, page 77 in its entirety. I do quite a lot of journaling, and even with that background, there were several prompts that made me nod, wince, jump up in my seat, or otherwise physically react to their strength and insight.
I didn’t know anything about Amber Rae’s work when I discovered this book. Choose Wonder Over Worry made me into a fan. This is a book to savor, to engage with care and attention. I’m still mulling over questions from these pages, and it’s very much on my mind. This book is on my top ten for the year so far.
“Worry is useful only when it’s within our control and empowers us to act.”
Where in your life do you not feel ready yet? What small step can you take today?
You need to learn how to start saying no to things you DO want.
If criticism and judgment didn’t matter, what would you do? Say? Focus on?
It’s been over a dozen years since I was on the dating market, so when I read dating manuals, it’s always with the question, Would this work? Often that’s followed by the question, Would I even want it to? I distinctly recall reading The Rules and throwing it across the room. I also followed my husband around a bookstore, reading sections of Fascinating Womanhood aloud and making him shudder all over. It’s in this context that I say I think The Love Gap is an excellent, very smart book that could really lead to a strong marriage, a win for both partners.
For context, I’m the sort that author Jenna Birch refers to as an “End Goal” woman. I’m a Mensan with a degree in History. As a bachelorette, I had already paid off my consumer debt, and I had a really cute apartment where I did a lot of recipe testing. I knew where my life was going, and after an early divorce, I was in no hurry to remarry. My current husband had only been divorced for a year when we met, and he was still in the midst of a custody battle. Simply put, when we met, we were on different tracks and not in the same emotional reality. The Love Gap makes a lot of sense for anyone trying to evaluate the potential of a romantic prospect in a challenging situation.
What does Birch mean by the “Love Gap”? It’s the reason why men don’t always pursue the women they claim to want, namely the smart, independent, successful ones. There’s a gap between their desires and their actions. What sets The Love Gap apart from earlier generations of romantic advice is that it holds these men accountable for their cognitive dissonance, immaturity, and poor behavior, rather than burdening women with doing the emotional homework for both sides. The major lesson of the book is in how to evaluate a man’s readiness for a relationship, and then plan accordingly. Read: avoid all the heartbreaking nonsense.
The Love Gap includes research and profiles of relationships from all levels of commitment and long- or short-term results. The premise is that a smart, independent, successful woman can be herself, live a full life, and still build a relationship without compromising, settling, or selling herself short. A marriage of equals is possible, and it’s a lot more likely when we’re not wasting our time tolerating shabby treatment. I recommend buying several copies and using them to replace any old copies of The Rules that might be lurking on a shelf somewhere.
You’re settling if you feel like you are.
...love is the most idealistic of all our goals.
If you never see a flaw, it’s not real.
If you live and die by the health of your relationship you’re not in the best position to be in one.
Least favorite quote:
“...no matter a woman’s level of physical attractiveness, the researchers found men rated optimal intelligence level to be right around 7 out of 10.” [Though I can’t blame the author for this].
You Need a Budget if you have any stress, anxiety, or confusion about money! Jesse Mecham’s book is brilliant in that it’s the opposite of most budgeting books. There are no spreadsheets! There are no formulas! There are only a couple of spots where numbers or budget categories even show up. This book is about strategy and mindset, which makes it perfect for possibility thinking rather than scarcity.
The Mecham family includes six children. Perhaps because of this, most of the advice in You Need a Budget is geared toward married couples who plan to (or already do) have kids, own a home, and drive a car. While there’s nothing radical about this, there are some contrarian elements to the YNAB financial philosophy. One of these is that it’s good to revise your budget if you realize you aren’t sticking to it and you can’t make the numbers work. Several real-life examples back up why this is a really smart idea. Desire for something specific is an excellent motivator to go over your expenses and rejigger them, shifting money from less interesting areas of outlay to your real passions, whether that’s Korean lessons or a diamond dog collar. Mecham is not here to judge.
This book derives from a web-based community, which is where the success stories arise. Real people are using this method to pay off six-figure student loans, pay off mortgages, save for extravagant weddings, and go on lavish vacations. A core element of YNAB is to “age your money,” which means you’re putting aside money in advance rather than looking backward and paying off past expenses. This feels positive and effective.
Most people don’t want to make budgets because they feel restrictive, because they’re confusing, or because even thinking about a bad financial situation is emotionally overwhelming. YNAB focuses on feelings of freedom, options, and power. Your money is here to serve you! You might not have realized it, because you may have associated the term with restriction, panic, or boredom, but guess what? You Need a Budget.
I love this book!
The premise of Write It Down Make It Happen is very simple: writing down clear, specific desires helps them to come true. This is sorta ludicrous on the face of it, isn’t it? Yet Klauser begins by offering several examples of famous people who did it, including Suze Orman, Scott Adams, and Jim Carrey. I do it myself, as I have done on a regular basis for many years, and that’s why I’m always looking for ways to improve my process. What I love about Write It Down Make It Happen is that it focuses on getting more analytical about the wish-formation and writing part of the process, rather than just the yearning part. Writing down what you want is a way of figuring out what you want and planning how to make it happen.
Chapters focus on different areas where someone might want to manifest something. One of my favorites is the chapter “Getting Ready to Receive,” in which a lonely older woman writes diary entries to her future soul mate as though he already existed in her life. I did something similar before dating my current husband. I did intensive journaling exercises to make sense out of my divorce, work through everything I didn’t want, decide whether I was even interested in a long-term monogamous relationship, and figure out what emotional context I wanted if I ever got married again. Without all of that writing, which took hundreds of pages, I know I would not have recognized my husband as an eligible partner. It’s about recognizing how you want to feel while you’re with your partner, not how tall he is or what music he likes.
Write It Down Make It Happen advises that we write about our anger, fear, and resistance around a situation as well as our wishes and positive feelings. This is so hugely important! We are reminded that our understanding of a situation may be incomplete, and that we often assume something can’t go our way without actually asking about it. There’s a really excellent example in the book about a woman who wishes to live in Europe and thinks she’ll have to make a difficult career trade-off. She is astonished to learn that her wish is a win-win for her employer, too. Living a bigger life means contributing at a higher level, and that means giving more to others and the world than you would by staying unhappily stuck.
Write It Down Make It Happen is a classic example of why wishes deserve to come true. Henriette Anne Klauser undoubtedly wrote down her wishes that she could write this book, that it would find a publisher, and that readers would enjoy it. While she wished for these things for herself, what she was really doing was propelling herself to create something more valuable to others than it was to herself. Now we can only wish that she’ll write another one!
“Writing a full-fledged description of what you want is one way of saying you believe that it’s attainable and you are ready to receive it.”
I‘m not a swimmer, but this book made me want to be. Dara Torres writes engagingly of training for her Olympic comeback at age 41, interspersing workout details with stories about her personal life. I was stunned by all the stuff she had going on at the time, and this made me take a hard look at my own routines. This is one of the great things about memoir and biography; we can imagine the mindset of a famous person because we can relate to the ordinary parts of life behind the scenes.
I was never an athlete. Last picked for every team, et cetera. It wasn’t until I was 35 that it really ever occurred to me to do anything physical on purpose. Earlier, I would have been alienated by hearing about someone else’s workouts. Now, I hear something like “700 sit-ups a day” and I have more of a sense of what that means. Torres’s descriptions of exercising and training at an elite level give a vivid sense of what it is like to spend that amount of time in a pool, how much precision goes into even very small motions repeated tens of thousands of times, what it’s like to live in the body of an Olympic medalist. How much of it is focus and desire, and how much of it is repeating the same activities over and over and over again? How much is passion, and how much is willingness to tolerate boredom?
The lens into the mind of a singularly focused, ambitious, driven person is really interesting. It’s even more interesting to consider that Torres’s comeback came during what was probably one of the worst, most stressful periods of her life. Without too many spoilers, she endured grief, personal loss, and multiple surgeries, and had a major crisis going on during the Olympics. She also started swimming again while pregnant at 39, so the comeback arc included pregnancy, childbirth, and raising her daughter to toddlerhood. Any ONE of these events would have qualified as a good-enough reason to avoid training. Anyone would have understood that she had a lot to deal with. She did it anyway.
Dara Torres proves it’s true that Age is Just a Number. Indeed.
“Fifty for fifty” is my thing. I’ve been saying I want to run a 50-mile ultramarathon for my fiftieth birthday. It sounded somewhat implausible to me in my late thirties. People like Dara Torres are showing more and more that the human body has more potential than we’ve ever realized. We have no idea what our limits are. Probably one day in the future, being younger than forty will be seen as a disadvantage for an aspiring young athlete. If I ever do a triathlon, I’ll be looking at pictures of Dara Torres for inspiration.
“...the real reason most of us fear middle age is that middle age is when we give up on ourselves.”
“If she didn’t have to be old at 70, I certainly wasn’t going to be old at 32.”
“When I was young, I was a natural athlete, but undisciplined.”
“I’d told the reporter, “If I look at it realistically, I can’t do the times I did when I was 33.” I’d been wrong.”`
The Financial Diet sets itself apart from other beginner’s guides to personal finance. Almost every book in this category is full of textbook advice on how to set up different types of accounts and how to allocate investments. This can be very intimidating. The Financial Diet focuses more on the mindset and emotional realities of getting a handle on your money. This makes it a great starting point for anyone who feels overwhelmed by numbers.
When I first decided to learn about finance, I had no idea where to start. It seemed like every book on the shelf was written by and for people in their forties, people who owned a house and a car and had college degrees and careers. I couldn’t figure out how to get from where I was, a broke office temp with no credit, to where I wanted to be. Wherever that was? Because I had no idea when I was in my early twenties where I would eventually wind up. I just knew I hated being poor. I very much would have appreciated a book like The Financial Diet, with its profiles of various successful women and its casual language.
Another way that this book sets itself apart is that it devotes a section to domestic skills. There are even recipes for traditional comfort food. From the perspective of someone who has gradually climbed the ladder, this is really important. It’s hard to keep to a budget without a sense of domestic contentment and a desire to spend most of your time hanging out at home. The advice here on how to cook, do home repairs, and shop for bargains is pretty solid.
The specific financial advice dealing with actual dollar amounts and actual types of accounts is solid as well. Seeing a selection of budgets from different people with different lifestyles is much more helpful than the abstract percentages and worksheets that fill most budgeting books. I found the checklists and journaling prompts to be insightful and thought-provoking, even for someone whose finances are already organized.
The Financial Diet is not, and does not claim to be, the only personal finance book anyone could need. The subtitle spells out that this is for total beginners. Speaking for myself, I really appreciated how it addressed class privilege, imposter syndrome, and the challenge of transforming from a clueless young person to a professional adult with a career. I would recommend it to any beginner with a good sense of humor. Come to think of it, this book would make a good graduation gift.
“Learning basic skills like how to install a shelf... has done more for me financially than any raise on a biweekly paycheck.”
“I know from personal experience that the more control I got over my financial life, the more I realized that I am not my mistakes - and neither are you.”
I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years, and that decision made itself the moment I read the title of Ilchi Lee’s book. Longevity seems to be something that is creeping up on us unawares; I’m convinced that most people have no idea how long we’re really going to live, and we’ll find ourselves with fifteen or more extra years. What are we going to do with all that time? How are we going to prepare ourselves, emotionally, financially, physically, mentally?
Lee is a Taoist master, so there is a little bit of woo-woo in this book. Mostly, though, it’s a very practical look at aging from the perspective of a man in his sixties. We think of “65” as the magical year of old age because of a bureaucratic decision made in 19th Century Germany. Lee includes a poignant quote from a 95-year-old man who says he regrets wasting the thirty years of his retirement between 65 and 95. The man plans to study a foreign language so that he won’t reach his 105th birthday feeling that he’s wasted the previous ten years.
We look at that idea of the 105th birthday and smirk, thinking: Good luck with that one, old-timer! Then we read about Robert Marchand, who set a new world record in cycling at age 105 and raced as recently as February 2018, at 106.
I often ask myself, if a centenarian can do this, why can’t I? I’ll be 43 in July. There will come a day when I feel that 43 was young, oh so very young. I want to impress Old Me with how hard I’ve tried.
I know that Young Me had some really weird ideas about aging. Young Me thought that after I turned 30, I’d be “too old” to travel. Young Me never thought that I’d backpacking across Iceland and Spain after that age, much less that I’d run a marathon at age 39 or study kickboxing at 42. I feel physically younger now than I did at 20, and I have to assume that at 60, I’ll feel younger than I can imagine today. I want to make the best use of my time so I don’t look back wistfully, in regret and self-blame that I burned through so many years doing nothing.
Lee’s attitude is inspiring. He has a lot to say about letting go of the past, connecting with others and playing an active role in the community, staying fit, and not defining oneself as a frail, elderly person. His example of the older lady who gave away her recliner and her TV really lit me up! I’m going to do two things after reading I’ve Decided to Live 120 Years. I’m going to give my copy to my parents, and then I’m going to try to do wall push-ups like Lee does. He’s older than my dad, so if he can do it, why can’t I?
This book might be even better for single people to read than for married people. It’s incredible. I think it might save marriages as well as start some. Eli J. Finkel presents some research findings, complete with charts and graphs, in a very approachable way that just happens to explode a lot of pop culture notions. He starts with the premise that divorce is up because our expectations of marriage are so high, and reminds us that, on a historic scale, expectations of marriage have, in many ways, never been lower. This is just one of the many fascinating and challenging ideas about The All-or-Nothing Marriage.
Marriage has changed. I know a few couples who are in arranged marriages, a practice which is common enough that people will publicly admit to it, yet still so uncommon that it is very surprising. How quickly we forget that this used to be the norm! Finkel discusses the original form of pragmatic marriage, in which couples depended on one another for their actual physical survival. This was what people expected of each other up until around 1850. Industrialization allowed us to relax a bit about such concerns, making space for the concept of the love-based marriage. No longer would we need to audition each other for our agricultural or home-construction skills; more time for kissy-kissy. Suddenly, around 1965, we saw the advent of the self-expression marriage, in which we expect our mates to help us fulfill all our wildest dreams and be perfect in every way.
This is where the book becomes staggeringly important.
Most divorces are initiated by women now. The figure is nearly 70%. Pause and think about that, because the proportions are nowhere near that for break-ups in regular dating. What is it about marriage specifically that makes so many women want to get the heck out? Partly it’s the natural outgrowth of realizing that you’ve married a bad roommate, someone who exploits traditional gender roles to get free maid service. Partly, as we discover in The All-or-Nothing Marriage, it’s our expectation that marriage needs to be a major factor in our self-expression.
What’s great about this book is that it offers so much perspective and so many attitude adjustments. It also has a section devoted to “love hacks,” tested ways of improving marital satisfaction even when the couple are annoying each other. The All-or-Nothing Marriage is also an optimistic book. The research indicates that the best marriages in our era are better than ever before. A self-expression marriage is something worth striving for, as long as we support our partner’s needs as well as our own.
Speaking as a divorced person remarried to another divorced person, please read this book before you start signing any papers. You can also feel free to leave it laying around in plain view; like The Five Love Languages, it’s the kind of relationship book that men will appreciate, especially because the author is male. Approach the conversation with curiosity and leave space for your partner to respond. May it help you to find your way back to one another.
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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.