Updated: Apr 7, 2020
In keeping with my daily practice and the power of habit focus I have been reading a whole bunch of self help and life hack books. I have found that it keeps me from being in a rut or sliding into a less than intentional life. I often forget what I'm trying to accomplish and just float through my week if I am not careful. Reading these books keeps me reminded that I am building a specific life for myself. I have become rather fond of the woo woo type of books that use the words like "universe" and "manifest" and such. However, when I first started looking into these books, that was not at all what I wanted. I just wanted to be more productive, goal oriented, and waste less energy on stuff that wasn't going to get me anywhere. I'll start with those and move toward the woo woo as the post goes on. If you don't want woo woo then just get the first few books.
1) Essentialism by Greg Mckeown. Not woo woo at all, but will still help your emotional state anyway. The basic idea behind this is that you decide what is of the most value to you in your life (the essential parts) and you only do the things that support that life. Mckeown had an "aha" moment when he left his wife and first born at the hospital hours after the birth to go to a business meeting. He sacrificed a magical day in his life for a much less valuable experience. What is worse, it did nothing for his status, or his career. He was jolted awake to the fact that he was pushing hard at work for his family and then sacrificed that very thing for the work -- he scheduled his priorities backward. After this he cut the unessential out of his life and realized that made him much more successful in every part of his life, including business. The states of being too busy and sleep deprived do not lead to success. You have to put in the time on the the things that matter and cut out the rest. He gives practical advice on how to do this. It is well worth the read and makes you assess whether your time and energy are going toward the life you value.
2) Twelve Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson. This is also not woo woo at all. Peterson is a clinical psychologist and brilliant thinker. He has improved the lives of many people via his talks, books and university lectures (he has full courses available on YouTube. They are well worth it for the Psychology nerds and Jung fans). His twelve rules are simple and actionable. They range from cleaning your room (see Peterson memes all over the internet about this) to treating yourself as though you are a person of value. Some of his steps are those things we know to do, but don't do because we're not paying attention or are daunted by them. Small tweaks in your life make exponential improvements. His book has helped many, but resonates intensely with Millenials who seem to have had a harder time with the transition to independence and adulthood than earlier generations. Having said that, I am a gen x kid and have found his words have helped me enormously. Also, check out his podcast and YouTube channel.
3) The Badass books by Jen Sincero. Her badass books are: You are a Badass; You are a Badass at Making Money; You are a Badass Everyday. These are a little woo woo, but she swears a lot so that makes it seem more palatable for the woo woo averse. I love these books. Sincero is funny and uses her own experiences with self awareness, progress, getting shit done and getting comfortable with success (yes, that is hard for most people) in these books. She does mention the "Universe" and "Manifesting" your life. I personally like that, but if you don't you'll probably still find a lot that is practical and useful in her books anyway.
4) The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. He's the guy who wrote the chicken soup books. He is a grandaddy of the woo woo (he was featured in the movie, The Secret) but just like Sincero, he has a lot of practical and actionable advice that even the woo woo averse can use. Much of what he does is help you find your own blocks. These are beliefs that you have about yourself that are not true, are limiting and that you can change. Changing your view of yourself, the world, etc. helps you get out of your own way. If you simply can't stand mention of the universe or manifesting, go back to Peterson or Mckeown for guidance that will get you out of your own way in a more "math class" and less "interpretive dance class" manner.
5) Chillpreneur and Get Rich, Lucky Bitch! by Denise Duffield-Thomas. First of all, Denise DT, is the most charming and likable gal around. If you like all things Aussie (Denise is Australian, with an adorable accent) get her books in audiobook form for a most enjoyable listen. She is super duper woo woo, but like the others, she has practical, actionable advice as well. These two books are geared toward women who are self employed, and/or trying to succeed in the business world. Money is an emotionally charged subject for most. We're expected to be experts as soon as we reach adulthood. Of course, most of us aren't experts and that makes us insecure, fearful, guilt ridden and generally negative on the subject. She teaches a lot of exercises that help you find out what your blocks are about money -- these things go back to your childhood, parents behavior with money, the shame if you had it, or the shame if you didn't, or whatever your money experiences were. She helps her reader become aware all those emotions that we are so good at shoving down where we can't find them. If we keep doing that we wonder why we can't manage our money -- then there's more negativity and on it goes. If you want a little sample she has YouTube videos and a podcast as well -- google "Lucky Bitch" and you'll find her. Get these books -- I love them.
I have read and highly recommend all of these. I am currently reading Darren Hardy's The Compound Effect. I just started it, but it is promising. I also liked James Clear's Atomic Habits. My life is absolutely more enjoyable if the little habits of my day and mental life are uplifting, useful, positive. These have all helped me understand more about how to achieve that. Reading "Life Hack" books is now one of the habits that I've added to my plan for an intentional life. I used to be "too cool" for that kind of thing. Of course, I was a meandering mess -- and honestly, I still was not that cool anyway. I hope you find something useful in this list.
*Disclosure: if you purchase one of these books via the links on this page I will get a teeny commission. If you are a meanie and don't want that to happen open Amazon in a new link and buy them that way. The prices are the same either way.*