Three Books for Healthy Habits in 2019

I love to read. My goal is to read every day. For hours and hours. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have told me that taking the time to read and think is one of the key roles of a CEO. Yet despite my lofty goal of a daily reading binge, I find that I rarely, if ever, meet that goal.

I have become an expert at sneaking book time, trying to swap random checks of my Facebook feed for hitting a chapter of my latest read.

I have books at my office, at my home office, in my work bag, on my bedside table, even in the kitchen (until my wife finds it and relocates it to my bedside table).

Basically, I want to make it so easy to grab a quick read that it’s hard to avoid reading!

I treat books (especially nonfiction books) like I treat my charts. They’re notebooks. A place to record my thoughts and impressions and reflect on what I’m thinking at that specific moment.

At the end of each chapter, I scratch out a couple takeaways to bring it all together and collect my thoughts. I find that when I pick up the book after a long break, I can quickly review my summary notes and then I can jump back in fairly easily.

Once I’m done with a book, I always try to share it with someone else. Either by incorporating it into a blog post, sharing it with a friend, or even just telling my father about it.

That last step might seem like a minor one, but it’s perhaps the most important step. When I share the book with someone, whether verbally or electronically, it forces me to summarize what I read and what it meant to me. That’s when I know I’ve absorbed what I’ve read.

At this time of year, I find myself reviewing 2018 and thinking through how I can improve myself in 2019. Therefore, here are three books to help form healthy habits in the new year.

Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

I feel like most book lists I produce include this title, for very good reason. No other book has had such a profound effect on how I try to live. I made significant changes to my life in the years after I first read Stephen Covey’s seminal work. But the really good stuff came later, when I reread the book many times and started to personalize everything I had learned. That’s what I developed my own routines and made this book my own.

Mark Bryan with Julia Cameron and Catherine Allen, The Artist’s Way at Work: Riding the Dragon

During a particularly stressful period in my life, I went searching for things to calm me down and help me focus on being creative and fulfilled. One of the healthier ways I found to address those issues was this adaptation of The Artist’s Way, which is a classic book for creatives. I started a three-page daily journal when the authors suggested, and I’ve kept up with that habit ever since. The three pages has helped me to think more calmly, clearly, and creatively.

James Clear, Atomic Habits

I’ve read James’ blog for a while and was excited to pick up this book last fall. It’s all about small incremental changes that add up to dramatic evolution. The double entendre of “atomic” will certainly make sense after reading this book. The best way to become a better investor (and indeed a better human being) is to make small, manageable changes in your life. Reminds me of Dr. Robert Maurer’s book “One Small Step Can Change Your Life” which was all about the Japanese philosophy of “kaizen” or continuous improvement.

Read these three books in the new year, and you should be able to clear your mind, define your values and goals, and determine the incremental steps to get you there!


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