“New year, New you” is mocked these days on social media because often times we don’t maintain our resolutions. Still, I am a believer in the power of goal setting. Few things motivate me more than dreaming, planning, and mapping out my accomplishments this time of year. True I didn’t accomplish everything in 2016, I certainly feel the growth and difference a year can make. Often what I read says a lot about me and my focus. Here I share with you books I’ve read or will read to improve my health (mental and physical), finances, professional ambitions, productivity and more.
The Power of Habit
We all want to change. This book talks about the science behind it. Keeping resolutions is not about banging our head against the wall in the name of will power, but rather training our brain with behaviors and rewards that result in habits. I used the principles in this book in 2015 when I wanted to start waking up at 5am everyday. Worked like a charm!
Getting Things Done
I’m a productivity junky-always looking for ways to get the most out of every single minute. I was looking to utilize the software OmniFocus and some super smart co workers recommended this book. The GTD method works very well with the OmniFocus for Mac, iOS, and watchOS platform. I’ve been using this method in combination for a couple of months now and I love it. The GTD method covers everything from small menial tasks to larger scale “Someday/Maybe” ideas and dreams.
The Power of When
First of all you have to take the quiz! That’s right, take the chronotype quiz. The quiz is in the book or you can also go to http://www.thepowerofwhenquiz.com. After taking the quiz and determining your chronotype (I’m a Lion), the book (as promised by the cover) tells you the best time to eat, ask for a raise, have sex, write a novel, take your meds, and more. I have implemented a few of the practices recommended and I have to say I’m a fan. I have had to switch up my routine in some ways but I am more productive. I am also able to identify opportunities. For example since I am an early riser, I notice that I flame out after about 3pm from a productivity standpoint. I like to wake up an workout. The book suggests that I do all of my creative work in the morning and workout in the evening. This has allowed me to maximize my prime time of day to do the work that is most important to me.
Finally a book the makes meditation relatable! This book juuuuuust missed my Top 12 Books I read in 2016. I’m a faithful watcher of all ABC News shows (shout out to my mans and them George Stephanopoulos), so I am familiar with Dan Harris. I remember the story of his horrifying on-air panic attack. I read a few books that referenced this book (books always reference other books btw because writers always read). I knew I had to get it. This book humorously shares the benefits of meditation. So much so that I finally decided to take it seriously and incorporate it into my life in 2017.
When it comes to a true stand up guy, everyone knows–Tony Dungy. This book is a year long, biblically focused challenge to look inside ourself and to He who is greater in us to be better.
Do Your Talk Funny?
I have been speaking in front of large crowds my entire life. Church, family functions, parties, funerals, you name it. I have had my fair share of MC’ing. In college I aced my Communication Class. I wanted to be a reporter for crying out loud. In fact, to help my mom, I joined Toast Masters as a hobby. Oddly somehow, while working at my current employer I developed a severe case of anxiety around public speaking. Like out of no where! I can be perfectly calm in front of one large group of say over 100 people and then one day that same group of people freak me the *#&^@* out! With every promotion, I truly learned that with great power, comes great responsibility and people were actually relying on little me to deliver a pretty powerful message. Somehow the thought and weight of THAT turned me into a voice-shaking mess standing in front of everyone. Public speaking in my current line of work would not come naturally. I would need to work at it. So I made it a deliberate habit to improve my public speaking as a goal in 2016. I used this book to help me. There is true power in story telling. It connects people to an idea and makes you relatable. I will never be as funny as some but I do know how to be more relatable than before. I’ve learned how to connect better. Connecting (and practicing!) relieves my nerves. More books on public speaking to come. I’ve been working on it! I hope this helps someone as much as it helped me.
Nicole breaks it down for a lady like me. This year I had a major shift in how I deal with my finances. Going from a dual income back to a single income while maintaining my own financial goals proved to be difficult. True I’ve earned more money in 2016, but I spent a lot on food & drinks, fitness, moving, and BOOKS! This book gives real-life, women to woman advice that we call can use to get our finances in order.
Health and Wellness:
I’ve always been of the opinion that yoga is not really for a girl like me. I like running, spinning, boot camp, crossfit, P90X, Insanity…you know “REAL”workouts. In search of mental health and meditation, I decided to do a trial week at a local CorePower Yoga studio and now I’m totally into it. I feel stronger and challenged in ways I didn’t expect. I like going to yoga class because I feel out of my comfort zone. I’m always amazed when I can do poses I didn’t know I could do (hello crow pose!). It’s only been 2 months and I’ve gone enough to know I want to learn more about the principles behind the practice. Like what is the actual benefit and philosophy behind this breathing, posing, and intention setting. AND what the heck is Shavasana?! Or why do I need to use my Ujjayi breath in class? Bowing with your hand in “prayer pose” saying Namaste…but not in church…is that right?! These are questions I needed to know people! I think this book breaks it down without you feeling stupid. It answers the questions I wonder in class when I’m supposed to be focusing on my breaths. Plus it confirms what I knew: Happy Baby Pose is also Happy Man Pose. Oh and I’m still running, spinning, and boot camping 😉
Whole 3o and The 22 Day Revolution
Of course I want be snatched. I mean of course. However, I really want to be healthy. I started out 2016 learning about Veganism. I read a few books on Vegan living including The 22 Day Revolution and Main Street Vegan I am still a big believer in that mentality. Which is why I am struggling to understand the Whole 30 philosophy. In 2016, I was Vegan for almost 4 months and slowly incorporated fish back into my diet. In the last quarter of the year, I had some chicken (blah) and some steak (hello!). But I do believe meat is not good for me and you. Fish? I’m not so convinced. So Pescatarian is my lifestyle of choice 95% of the time. I like the concept of Whole 30 which charges you to reset your body for 30 days by eliminating sugar, alcohol, grains, and dairy. Not to deprive for deprivation sake, but to reset your body and slowly incorporate food groups one at a time to see the impact they have on your body. A strict Paleo diet is what “they” say Whole 30 is. Problem-Whole 30 is all about that meat life and I’m not. So I’m giving Whole 30 a go in January of 2017 as a Pescatarian and taking it from there.
One of my dream vacations is “Island hopping of the Amalfi Coast” *JayZ Voice*. I wanna Eat, Pray, Love all over that place. All the pasta, all the breath-taking ocean views, all the pizza, all the cafes, and hello All. The . Wine! Learning the language (arguably the world’s most beautiful-sorry France) is also on my list. I downloaded this booking 2012. Its been 5 years, I need to go already! Where are you longing to be in 2017? Pick up a book about the place. Do your research and go already!
This may surprise you and sound crazy, but this is one of my favorite books ever. Its the insanely smart combination of my favorite things: sports, travel, and the bravery of trying something new. I was so sad when it was over. I wanted to read so much more. There was also Dhani Jones Tackles the Globe, a show on the Travel Channel. But I just loved this book: a true sports odyssey! Dhani is a Maryland dude (so I can relate) that has played sports at the highest level in places like Ireland, Thailand, Singapore, New Zealand, Senegal, Nepal and way more! He shares his experience like training for the sport, how people react to him, and trying local food and traditions. I added this book because it inspires me to always try new things and not give a *beep* about what people think of you traveling while Black. Stop being so SCARED!