Wisdom//

These Life-Changing Books Will Expand Your Sense of Possibility

Change is the only true constant. But real change is a choice. A decision — a commitment to do something different. To take control of the…


Change is the only true constant. But real change is a choice. A decision — a commitment to do something different. To take control of the direction of your life. Transformation is uncomfortable but important for growth.

When Warren Buffett was asked about the secret to his wealth and success, he revealed that he read every day — 500 pages, to be precise.

The most difficult part of reading is the start. But once you get past the first page, the book pulls you along after that.

These books have had a huge impact on my life, and I hope they’ll do the same for you. They will help you start excelling in your field and embrace life’s opportunities for adventure. They will put you in the right mindset for the next chapter of your life.

A passionate and immensely rewarding exploration of how “new” comes to be

How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery by Kevin Ashton

“The most important thing creators do is work. The most important thing they don’t do is quit.”

“Unfulfilled passion creates a cavity between our present and our potential — a void that can drip with destruction and despair.”

“The best artists, scientists, engineers, inventors, entrepreneurs, and other creators are the ones who keep taking steps by finding new problems, new solutions, and then new problems again.”

“Creating is not extraordinary, even if its results sometimes are. Creation is human. It is all of us. It is everybody.”

An indispensable guide to anyone seeking focused success in a distracted world

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport

“Only the confidence that you’re done with work until the next day can convince your brain to downshift to the level where it can begin to recharge for the next day to follow. Put another way, trying to squeeze a little more work out of your evenings might reduce your effectiveness the next day enough that you end up getting less done than if you had instead respected a shutdown.”

“Decades of work from multiple different subfields within psychology all point toward the conclusion that regularly resting your brain improves the quality of your deep work. When you work, work hard. When you’re done, be done.”

The secrets to living a happier and less anxious, stressful and exhausting life

Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Mark Williams, and Danny Penman

“Mindfulness cultivates our ability to do things knowing that we’re doing them.”

“Meditation is a simple practice that gains its power from repetition. It’s only through this that we can become aware of the repeating patterns in our own minds.”

“Pure awareness transcends thinking. It allows you to step outside the chattering negative self-talk and your reactive impulses and emotions. It allows you to look at the world once again with open eyes. And when you do so, a sense of wonder and quiet contentment begins to reappear in your life.”

An unconventional book of inspiration and wisdom for achieving a fulfilling life

How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen

“In your life, there are going to be constant demands for your time and attention. How are you going to decide which of those demands gets resources? The trap many people fall into is to allocate their time to whoever screams loudest, and their talent to whatever offers them the fastest reward. That’s a dangerous way to build a strategy.”

“In order to really find happiness, you need to continue looking for opportunities that you believe are meaningful, in which you will be able to learn new things, to succeed, and be given more and more responsibility to shoulder.”

Pragmatic insights for using your time wisely and making your best work

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind, by Jocelyn K. Glei

“Like it or not, we are constantly forced to juggle tasks and battle unwanted distractions — to truly set ourselves apart, we must learn to be creative amidst chaos.”

“If you want to create something worthwhile with your life, you need to draw a line between the world’s demands and your own ambitions.”

“We tend to overestimate what we can do in a short period, and underestimate what we can do over a long period, provided we work slowly and consistently.”

One of the most effective programs to combat procrastination

The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play, by Neil A. Fiore

“People don’t procrastinate just to be ornery or because they’re irrational. They procrastinate because it makes sense, given how vulnerable they feel to criticism, failure, and their own perfectionism.”

“The choice is not working or not working, but which type of work; even feeling guilty because of procrastinating takes some effort. When you commit to a goal, you’re committing to a form of work that brings ongoing rewards. When you procrastinate, you’re choosing a self-punishing form of work.”

The science of productivity

Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg

“People who believe they have authority over themselves often live longer than their peers. This instinct for control is so central to how our brains develop that infants, once they learn to feed themselves, will resist adults’ attempts at control even if submission is more likely to get food into their mouths.”

“Every choice we make in life is an experiment.”

“Productivity, put simply, is the name we give our attempts to figure out the best uses of our energy, intellect, and time as we try to seize the most meaningful rewards with the least wasted effort. It’s a process of learning how to succeed with less stress and struggle.”

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondō

“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”

“Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.”

“The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life.

How to turn everyday experience into a moment by moment opportunity for joy and self-fulfillment

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

“Most enjoyable activities are not natural; they demand an effort that initially one is reluctant to make. But once the interaction starts to provide feedback to the person’s skills, it usually begins to be intrinsically rewarding.”

“It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were. When we choose a goal and invest ourselves in it to the limits of concentration, whatever we do will be enjoyable. And once we have tasted this joy, we will redouble our efforts to taste it again. This is the way the self grows.”

Essentialism is not one more thing — it’s a whole new way of doing everything

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown

“You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.”

“The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the nonessentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. In other words, Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things almost effortless.”

How to be more productive at work and in every facet of your life

The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy, by Chris Bailey

“Although you can download all the productivity apps in the world (and I have), no app will make you care about what you have to do like the Rule of 3.

The rule is dead simple:
1. At the beginning of every day, mentally fast-forward to the end of the day, and ask yourself: When the day is over, what three things will I want to have accomplished? Write those three things down.
2. Do the same at the beginning of every week.

The three things you identify then become your focus for the day and the week ahead. That’s it.”

Don’t try to do it all. Do more good. Better.

Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity, by Tim Challies

“To be productive, you need a system. You need to build it, use it, perfect it, and rely on it. Your system needs to gain your confidence so that you can trust it to remember what needs to be remembered, to alert you to what is urgent, to direct you to what is important, and to divert you away from what is distracting.”

“The key to a productive and contented life is “planned neglect” — knowing what not to do and being content with saying no to truly good, sometimes fantastic, opportunities. This happens only when you realize how truly limited you are, that you must steward your little life, and that of all the best things to do on the planet, God wants you to do only a miniscule number.”

Wake up to your full potential

The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life, by Hal Elrod

“How you wake up each day and your morning routine (or lack thereof) dramatically affects your levels of success in every single area of your life. Focused, productive, successful mornings generate focused, productive, successful days — which inevitably create a successful life — in the same way that unfocused, unproductive, and mediocre mornings generate unfocused, unproductive, and mediocre days, and ultimately a mediocre quality of life. By simply changing the way you wake up in the morning, you can transform any area of your life, faster than you ever thought possible.”

The secrets of self-control and how to master it

Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, by Roy F. Baumeister, John Tierney

“For most of us, though, the problem is not a lack of goals but rather too many of them.”

“What stress really does, though, is deplete willpower, which diminishes your ability to control those emotions.”

“When you pick your battles, look beyond the immediate challenges and put your life in perspective. Are you where you want to be? What could be better?”

A holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey

“But until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise.”

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”

Gretchen tackles the critical question: How do we change?

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, by Gretchen Rubin

“There’s a great satisfaction in knowing that we’ve made good use of our days, that we’ve lived up to our expectations of ourselves.”

“The desire to start something at the “right” time is usually just a justification for delay. In almost every case, the best time to start is now.”

“The most important step is the first step. All those old sayings are really true. Well begun is half done. Don’t get it perfect, get it going. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Nothing is more exhausting than the task that’s never started, and strangely, starting is often far harder than continuing.”

Cal debunks the long-held belief that “follow your passion” is good advice

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love, by Cal Newport

“Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.”

“If you’re not uncomfortable, then you’re probably stuck at an “acceptable level.”
A good career mission is similar to a scientific breakthrough — it’s an innovation waiting to be discovered in the adjacent possible of your field. If you want to identify a mission for your working life, therefore, you must first get to the cutting edge — the only place where these missions become visible.”

How to navigate the churning flood of information in the twenty-first century with the same neuroscientific perspective

The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, by Daniel J. Levitin

“The most fundamental principle of the organized mind, the one most critical to keeping us from forgetting or losing things, is to shift the burden of organizing from our brains to the external world.”

“Multitasking creates a dopamine-addiction feedback loop, effectively rewarding the brain for losing focus and for constantly searching for external stimulation.”

“Neuroscientists have discovered that unproductivity and loss of drive can result from decision overload.”

“As the old saying goes, a man with one watch always knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never sure.”

The secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a focused persistence called “grit.”

Grit, by Angela Duckworth

“Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.”

“…there are no shortcuts to excellence. Developing real expertise, figuring out really hard problems, it all takes time―longer than most people imagine….you’ve got to apply those skills and produce goods or services that are valuable to people….Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you’re willing to stay loyal to it…it’s doing what you love, but not just falling in love―staying in love.”

“Nobody wants to show you the hours and hours of becoming. They’d rather show the highlight of what they’ve become.”

The techniques for developing mastery of any skill

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise, by K. Anders Ericsson, Robert Pool

“The reason that most people don’t possess these extraordinary physical capabilities isn’t because they don’t have the capacity for them, but rather because they’re satisfied to live in the comfortable rut of homeostasis and never do the work that is required to get out of it. They live in the world of “good enough.” The same thing is true for all the mental activities we engage in,”

“the key to improved mental performance of almost any sort is the development of mental structures that make it possible to avoid the limitations of short-term memory and deal effectively with large amounts of information at once.”

Ryan shows you how you can turn your own adversity into advantage

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph, by Ryan Holiday

“There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.”

“Wherever we are, whatever we’re doing and wherever we are going, we owe it to ourselves, to our art, to the world to do it well.”

“We forget: In life, it doesn’t matter what happens to you or where you came from. It matters what you do with what happens and what you’ve been given.”
“The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.”

Kaizen is the art of making great and lasting change through small, steady increments

One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way, by Robert Maurer

“Once you’ve experienced the joy of taking the first step, you can decide whether it’s appropriate to take another. You’ll know you’re ready when your current step becomes automatic, effortless, and even pleasurable. But don’t let anyone pressure you… If you ever feel yourself dreading the activity or making excuses for not performing it, it’s time to cut back on the size of the step.”

“Instead of aggressively forcing yourself into a boot-camp mentality about change, give your mind permission to make the leaps on its own schedule, in its own time.”

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Originally published at medium.com

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