I am really into motivational books and I’m constantly learning how to improve myself. But I’m one of those people who is great at planning but not so great at follow through. Over the years I have purchased dozens of books, but have actually only read a handful. This year I’m really sitting down and I’m determined to reread some and read others for the first time. With these books combined with Powersheets, 2018 is going to be my best year yet!
I would begin by suggesting reading your books along with a notebook for you to jot down notes. It is almost impossible to remember all of the important suggestions of every book you read (unless you have an eidetic memory), and with this notebook you have all of the important concepts in one place. I actually reread these notebooks periodically, and have even used them to reference the original book. This one is my current favorite. It is a bit pricey, but it has 249 lined pages, plus 3 pages for a table of contents, and a pocket in the back. It’s also really durable. The pages are also thin so it doesn’t feel like it’s that thick.
I actually began reading books for 2018 in December of 2017. I had planned to read two books, The Happiness Project and Make It Happen, but December became so busy with holiday travel that I only managed to read The Happiness Project. Oh well, life is about change is it not?
I had read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin years before but really felt compelled to read it again to help me plan 2018. Roughly a decade ago, Gretchen Rubin realized she was not as happy as she could be (although by no means unhappy) and decided to pursue happiness by focusing on 11 different parts of her life, one for each of the first 11 months and in December focusing on the 11 previous areas. Through her experience, she developed helpful “Secrets of Adulthood” and other helpful tidbits.
I had hoped to create my own happiness project in 2018 but realized my lack of discipline would only make me frustrated and I would likely drop the whole thing. Instead, as I have worked on Powersheets and experienced January 2018, I have found myself slowly forming focuses for each month, just as Gretchen did in her happiness project. For example, just as Gretchen realized, energy and good health are necessary for just about anything, and so I am focusing on my physical health and developing healthy habits in January.
January came with a sense of calm. As I mentioned on my about page, 2017 was a year of major change which has resulted in a massive void in 2018. I am no longer a grad student, nor am I planning a major wedding; I’m also in a new city (although I’ve lived here for a year and a half) with a new husband (six months but still new). But because of this void, I am able to really spend time soul searching and figuring out who I am as a wife, both in and out of my marriage, developing friendships, and preparing for pregnancy and motherhood in the next few years.
I have begun January by rereading Make It Happen by Lara Casey. Lara is a huge inspiration for me, as I’m sure she is for many women. She has had multiple “successful” careers, has pulled her marriage back together, and is now raising three children, two of whom were born close together. She has found God, lost Him, and found Him again, and now lives a purposeful life bringing a message of balance to women around the world.
I remember first reading Make It Happen in my own season if disbelief in God, struggling to come back to Him. I had just moved to an area where God is forced down your throat and if you aren’t a Baptist attending a megachurch you would not be accepted into Heaven. This atmosphere pushed me away from the Church, but Make It Happen compelled me to push forward toward Him. I was still unable to develop a satisfactory relationship with Christ, but I am thrilled to be in a new city, having found my church home with a husband who is encouraging me to find Christ. By reading Lara Casey’s book, I am finding myself excited about my goal setting and feeling confident that I can “make it happen” through Christ and balance.
I first purchased Adulting by Kelly Williams Brown on Kindle years ago at a time in my life that I was struggling with being an adult. Just like many people fresh out of college, I struggled with the sudden onslaught responsibilities of managing my finances, my home, and my life. It feels as though there is constantly something that has fallen through the cracks. In her book, Kelly has 468 steps that fall into 11 categories that will help readers learn how to “become a grown-up,” as she says in her byline. Just a quick flip through reveals basic recipes, budgeting tips, and how to manage friendships.
February begins with Lara Casey’s second book, Cultivate. This is the first book on my list that I have not at least partially read and I’m really excited. I have heard that Lara continues to share her purposeful but not perfect life story while she continues to share life lessons in “cultivating” “a grace-filled” life. A brief glance at this book further reveals her developed adoration of gardening and how this helps her in her quest for a more purposeful life. My mother was an avid gardener, and I, myself, am an aspiring gardener. I have killed countless plants by forgetting to water them, but I remain determined to be successful one day. It would be wonderful to read Lara Casey’s books and work on my Powersheets among the flowers, fruits, and vegetables I have grown from a seedling.
From what I have gathered of Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley, there is a reason Emily and Lara are good friends. Also a faith filled woman with a young family, Emily also has a background as a career woman who has left the traditional career path behind to share her motivational story and lifestyle. Not coincidentally, “Grace” is my word of the year for 2018, and with help from this book I hope to really cultivate a grace filled life in which I don’t beat myself up as much when I do not reach my high standards of perfection
I plan to begin March by reading Emily Ley’s new book, A Simplified Life. This book continues Emily’s principles of a grace-filled life by delving into ways to cultivate this lifestyle in the home. Emily is a wife and mother, as well as a successful business owner and spreads her motivational message in both of her books. In this second book, she goes into more detail about life management, including finances, meal planning, motherhood, and faith. I can’t wait to implement Emily’s methods into my own home.
I’ll continue March by learning how to create a more structured and more productive morning routine with The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. I am familiar with the principles in the book, but I have never successfully implemented them nor actually read the book. I have, however, heard amazing things. By starting my day looking forward and not backward I hope to lead a more productive day. Without a job to wake me up nor children jumping in my bed, I haven’t had a very structured morning in a long time. I have had moments when I woke up at 7am nearly every morning and those were some of the most productive times in my life. I’m really excited to forcefully develop and purposefully cultivate this habit.
With some of the basics hopefully well established, I plan to focus on my marriage in April. I’ll begin by reading The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. This is another book I am already familiar with, and I actually already know my love languages (gifts and words of affirmation). But I am not fluent in any other love language. This has harmed my friendships in the past because I would try to tell friends how much I cared about them by paying for meals or buying little gifts but they often would not understand what I was saying. My goal is to actually get David to read this book as well so that we can better understand each other, speak each other’s love language, as well as hopefully help prepare us both for parenthood.
I have not always been the best at praying, but I know that it is necessary to cultivate a relationship with the Lord. The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian shares how to cultivate a relationship with your husband through prayer with the Lord, by outlining ways to pray for him. By praying for David in a variety of ways, from his past as a Christian and non-Christian, to his present and his work and health, to his future as a father, I will better be able to keep him in my mind and boost him up to the Lord. My husband has been and continues to be so supportive of me as I’ve learned how to be a girlfriend, fiancee, and wife, finished my masters, and now trying to find myself as a person, the least I can do is support him in this way.
If you haven’t heard of Tim Keller then it is past time you have. Tim is a Presbyterian pastor in New York City with skills in bringing non-believers to God. He has an incredible knack for explaining God and faith in a way I have never seen before. He began by having a Q&A for believers and nonbelievers after his church services, and as word spread and he really began to cultivate his gift, he began to write. He is best known for his book, The Reason for God in which he argues for and against God, but in each of his openminded arguments against God, he comes to realize that it is futile. In May I plan on reading his book called Prayer. As I previously stated, I have never developed the habit of prayer and with help from Tim Keller I hope to really solidify this habit and my relationship with God.
Anything by Jennie Allen is another book that has been on my bookshelf for way to long without having cracked the spine. Jennie and her husband prayed to God and that they will do “anything” to grow closer to him, surrendering themselves to His will and His purpose. This is the lifestyle I hope to lead, but I am putting this book off for a little while because I am not going to lie, relinquishing control scares me. By learning from Lara Casey and Emily Ley about living a more cultivated and simplified life, developing new morning habits, becoming a more Christian wife, and learning how to pray, I hope to be more prepared to relinquish my life to God and do anything for His purpose.
I have heard so many good things about The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss that I have decided that I have to read it, especially since starting my blog. My husband and I are very similar, in that we both love to work and constantly produce, but also greatly enjoy really living life. We are both our own bosses (he is a consultant) and so we are both very flexible, but we need to make sure we create a good work/life balance that allows for career fulfillment and life enjoyment. Living in Charleston there is always something going on and something fun to do, but we also have plans to travel and learn about different cultures. These skills in working purposefully and enjoying life will definitely be skills we will pass down to our children.
I’ll return to cultivating my faith with The Finishing School by Valerie Woerner. Another book that has been on my shelf, spine uncracked for way too long, Valerie shares what she has learned through reading a multitude of motivational books and cultivating her own faith. The book appears to provide advice for just about every area I struggle with, including fear and anxiety, Bible study, and prayer. I remember when this book was announced and the excitement I experienced when I preordered it, but quickly forgot about it. As I look closer at the book again, I’m really trying to figure out why I haven’t read it yet.
Two years ago I actually successfully gave up worry for lent, if only briefly. But it was still an incredible few weeks (no it didn’t last all of those six weeks), some of the best few weeks of our early relationship. One book that helped a lot was The Way of Serenity by Father Jonathan Morris. While the serenity prayer is most often associated with individuals who suffer from substance abuse problems, it actually is helpful to anyone with any type of problem. By keeping the serenity prayer and its principles in my mind, I was able to give things up to the Lord for a brief time and live a more fulfilled life.
In 2014 I did a month long study abroad in France as I mentioned in my post, What I have learned in my life. It was one of the scariest and most eye opening experiences of my life. I was scared to death of offending someone with my uncultured American ways, but was constantly in awe of the incredible French take on life, love, and happiness. The French really put a priority on experiencing life as opposed to making money to experience luxury. They spend hours at meals, legally do not allow work beyond a certain time, and are incredibly warm once you gain their trust. How to be Parisian by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Carolina de Maigret, and Sophie Mas appears to have a lot of information helpful for singles so I may skim it, but living life with some Parisian influence sounds like a more fulfilled life.
I will continue to alter to this page as I read each book, adding tidbits I find most useful and have learned from each read.
What else should I add to my list?