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5 Books That Will Help You Achieve Your Goals This Year

I was recently chatting with a friend of mine about how much I’ve been reading books over the past five years. It’s weird because English and Literature were always my worst subjects in school.

I once had an English teacher tell me that I was likely to end up in jail. Why? Sure, I didn’t dig The Great Gatsby, I barely skimmed Of Mice and Men, and bombed the exam on To Kill a Mocking Bird, but prison seemed like a dramatic assumption for simply showing a lack of interest in classics and making jokes for the class to appreciate. The only thing you’d catch me reading back then was Sports Illustrated with my morning cereal.

Now I’m reading over 50 books per year and more than happy to write a book report or three.

When my friend asked why I read so much now I promptly responded because lots of successful people are avid readers. Warren Buffet, Mark Cuban, Bill Gates, Arianna Huffington, and many other ridiculously successful and wealthy people are all about flipping those pages.

My friend responded, “Just because you do what successful do doesn’t guarantee you’ll be successful.”

He’s right, but you know what? I’m willing to take that risk. So for my first post of the year, I wanted to share the 5 books I start every New Year with.

These are five books that, if these were the only books you were to read this year, it would make an impact on your life. These books will inspire and motivate you to make, and keep change (Remember those New Year Resolutions you made, like, 10 days ago). They teach tangible tactics and ideas to improve every area of your life from relationships to money, health to productivity, and stress to happiness.

I. Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Essentialism is about doing less, but better. It’s about consistently asking yourself the question, “Is this the very most important thing I should be doing with my time and resources right now?” It’s about using focused energy to accomplish the things that really matter.

Asking this question is a great reminder for me to write rather than watch Netflix, or have a protein shake over a pool full of popcorn.

This book will help you simplify your life, shape your priorities, and put the things that truly matter first.

I usually read this book in December because it helps me eliminate the nonessential moving into the New Year. What new ugly habits did I pick up this year? Have I lost track of what is truly essential in my life? Am I productive or merely busy? This book provokes these questions and many more. Essentialism will teach you how to do the things that are truly important and how to eliminate everything else for a happier, more productive life.

II. The ONE Thing by Gary Keller

Multitasking, living a balanced life, and thinking everything is equal are productivity killers. This book is Essentialism on Adderall. It will take your prioritieS to a prioritY. This is the single best book on productivity that I have ever read. Granted, there aren’t many productivity tips and tricks in Sports Illustrated, but that’s neither here nor there. The ONE Thing teaches you how to be a productivity machine.

It shows you how focusing on one, single thing does not hinder your success, but sets it on fire. He tells stories of greats like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, Walt Disney and Sam Walton, and many more. This is the most marked up book I own. Almost the whole damn book is highlighted, underlined, dog-eared, and coffee-spilt. Keller shows you how to cut through clutter, achieve more in less time, build momentum, and stop feeling overwhelmed.

Anybody who feels like they are always on-the-go or soooo busy needs to read this book.

III. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~ Aristotle

As I write this, the Powerball is at $1.4 bil (yes, bil as in billion). Once we win, then all of our dreams, hopes, and wishes will finally come true, right? No, that’s not right. Don’t get me wrong, I have my ticket and I fantasize what I’ll do with my millions. Unfortunately, we are more likely to get struck by lightning in our left earhole while eating a cheeseburger.

This lottery mindset, of hoping for the big win rather than building the habits and skills of a wealthy person gets adopted into many areas of life.

Phrases like “It’s genetics” or “He’s so lucky” are proof of this Powerball thinking at work.

Sure, I’ll never be able to ball like Lebron or win a Noble Prize in Physics – there is certainly a luck factor in life. I mean, somebody is going to get lucky win that Powerball eventually. But, just as if Lebron doesn’t stay on top of his ball handing, he’s not going to be a MVP candidate every year. If Arthur McDonald doesn’t do whatever the fuck physicists do on daily basis, he doesn’t have his Noble Prize, and if the Powerball winner doesn’t have good money habits then that $1.4 bil will be quick to disappear like many lottery winners before.

Duhigg’s book is the best on habits I have ever read. It gives great advice and a solid model on how to build these success habits in any area of your life.

IV. The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal

At the beginning of the New Year, the only thing more common than making New Year Resolutions is breaking them.. within two weeks. Kelly McGonigal is a by far the most quoted author on this blog (like here, here, and here). She’s funny, clever, and always provides groundbreaking research to support her uncommon tips and tricks.

The Willpower Instinct talks about how willpower works and how to strengthen it like a muscle in the gym. Willpower is a skill that needs to be practiced daily. It’s the difference between January 1st and March 1st at gyms across the nation. It’s the difference between the one who cheats on his girl, and the one who doesn’t. It’s the key to avoiding that chocolate cake at midnight.

This is the book that I go to most often for advice on how to stick with my goals and fight off urges to turn every night into a popcorn and Netflix festival.

V. Before Happiness by Shawn Achor

One of my favorite authors by far, and not just because he shouted the blog out on twitter.

Shawn_Achor_books

This last book recommendation was between Before Happiness and Achor’s other book, The Happiness Advantage (both of which I read every year). In Before Happiness, you’ll learn the five skills of a positive genius. Like McGonigal’s books, Achor drops knowledge bombs from uncommonly used studies, and has a good sense of humor. Which is good for me.

This book combines my two favorite topics: Happiness & Success.

You’ll learn how to find “success accelerants” that can move you quicker to success, how to develop a positive mindset, and how to cancel out noise that is harmful to your success and happiness.

I am currently reading this book, and every time I read it something new stands out that I can apply to my life.

Okay, I’ll stop talking now. It’s your turn. What is ONE book that you love, and that has had a big impact on your life? Let me know in the comments below.

6 Comments

  1. Crystal Crystal

    Hey Danny,
    I just heard of another new book from Tim Ferris podcast, called radical acceptance , sounds good and another happiness book, I Weill have to look up the name at home for you.
    I really liked the book the One thing, that one I think about when I get stressed like today when i wanted post a picture of me pulling my hair out
    PN 2 has given me a huge list…if,I get get through motivational interviewing I will let you know.
    Thx for the great blogs

    • Danny Danny

      Always love your suggestions, Crystal. I added those books you emailed me about to my reading list

  2. Daniel Daniel

    Hey man, love the suggestions. Here is what I have been reading to start off the new year: End The Fed (by Ron Paul) (A case for eliminating the Federal Reserve); Swords into Plowshares (by Ron Paul) (A case for ending unnecessary wars); The Art of Mental Training (by DC Gonzalez) (mental training techniques for peak performance); and What You Should Know about Politics but Don’t (by Jessamyn Conrad) (an overview over a multitude of issues accompanied by background and current debates).
    If you couldn’t tell, I’m really into politics. That’s my 2 cents.
    Peace.

    • Danny Danny

      Dude, The Art of Mental Training and What You Should Know about Politics but Don’t just jumped to the top of my list. Those sound right up my alley. Let me know which Ron Paul book you enjoyed more, I’ll check it out. I dig political books too.

  3. Aaaahhh…how to choose just one!? I’ll go with The Slight Edge since it isn’t on this list… All 5 you listed are actually ones I have either already purchased, or are on my wish list. I am currently reading the Happiness Advantage (I’ve been obsessed since I heard Jill interview him) and the Power of Habit.

    • Danny Danny

      YES. Love the Slight Edge

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