Are you kicking off 2017 determined to make it your best year yet? Breaking old habits or starting new routines can seem like insurmountable tasks without help and advice. Follow the strategies in the books below, and you’ll have a head start on making meaningful changes in the year ahead.
TAKE LIFE PRO-TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS
Tim Ferriss has attracted a huge following with his website, bestselling books (The 4-Hour Workweek, etc.) and podcast (“The Tim Ferriss Show,” downloaded more than 100 million times) that offer advice on living the life of your dreams. In his whopping new collection, Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers, Ferriss distills the wisdom from nearly 200 podcast interviews with high achievers. The “titans” represented here range from “governator” Arnold Schwarzenegger to writer Maria Popova, founder of BrainPickings.org.
Ferriss describes himself as a “compulsive note-taker” who carefully tracks his activities to figure out what works and what doesn’t in his quest to be healthy, wealthy and wise. Similarly, in Tools of Titans, he zeroes in on the actions and behaviors that have helped his subjects rise to the tops of their fields. One favorite question, for example, is about the person’s morning routine (performance coach Tony Robbins starts his day with a cold water plunge; entrepreneur Peter Diamandis does stretches in the shower). The tips from interviewees are supplemented with summaries of Ferriss’ own strategies, from “5 Tools for Faster and Better Sleep” to “Mind Training 101.” A Poor Richard’s Almanack for the 21st century, Tools of Titans is a practical and inspiring guide to being your best.
GET OFF THE COUCH AND GET ORGANIZED
If you’re looking for gentle and encouraging advice on tidying up your living space, you should probably steer clear of Unf*ck Your Habitat: You’re Better Than Your Mess. Author Rachel Hoffman takes a drill-sergeant approach to housekeeping and organization, laying down the law in clear, direct and very funny fashion. One rule is non-negotiable: You will make your bed, every day. “I can hear you whining from here, seriously. I know you don’t want to make your bed. I know you don’t see the point. . . . But a messy bed makes a room look messier and a made bed brings a focal point of cleanliness and order.” Hoffman spells out the basics of cleaning (“Trash goes in the trash can. Do the dishes every day.”) and instructs the slovenly on how to build better habits. A chapter on “Emergency Unf*cking” offers helpful tips on handling an impending visit from your mom or landlord.
EAT LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT
A hit with readers when it was self-published, Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food is now available in an updated edition. Author Catherine Shanahan, a family physician, was motivated to study the connection between diet and wellness after she suffered problems with her own health. Through research on cultures around the world, she identified four “pillars” that healthy diets have in common: meat cooked on the bone, fermented and sprouted foods, organ meats and fresh foods. With a wealth of detail, Shanahan shows how changing what you eat can improve everything from bone strength to memory.
BE BOLD ENOUGH TO CONQUER YOUR FEARS
Does fear prevent you from achieving your goals? In Reach: A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, Rise to the Challenge, and Build Confidence, behavioral expert Andy Molinsky reveals how hard we work to avoid tasks that make us uncomfortable—from public speaking to being assertive with a co-worker. Through procrastination, passing the buck or outright avoidance, we evade what we’re afraid of. So how can this cycle of fear be broken? Molinsky identifies three Cs—conviction, or a sense of purpose; customization, or finding what works for you; and clarity, being honest about the problem—to help you make the leap and confront your challenges.
SIMPLIFY AND LIVE WITH LESS
Though she’s French, author Dominique Loreau has lived in Japan since the 1970s, adopting a Japanese mindset and taking a Zen approach to clutter. Her guide to simplifying, L’art de la Simplicité: How to Live More with Less, is an international bestseller now available in English thanks to translator Louise Lalaurie. Her outlook shares key elements with Japanese declutterer Marie Kondo (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up), but Loreau takes a more spiritual approach, going beyond tidy closets to advocate minimalism in all aspects of life, from eating to relationships. The reward for shedding what we don’t need, she asserts, is a purer spirit and a more satisfying life.
SAVOR YOUR DOWNTIME
Let’s face it: Being without our smartphones for even a few minutes can be a distressing experience. In an era of constant connection, how do we wind down and enjoy times of quiet contemplation? Eva Hoffman has some elegant thoughts on the subject in How to Be Bored, the latest in the School of Life series, which tackles some of life’s big questions in slender volumes. As Hoffman points out, we all have good reasons to be busy, but there are also many good reasons to unplug: cultivating a sense of curiosity about the world, observing what’s around us more closely and, perhaps most importantly, thinking about how we want to live. “This is in a way the major task of any conscious life,” Hoffman writes, “and it has never been easy.”