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Article written by Raine Jimson
Exclusively for balancedhabits

Whether or not we’ve made formal New Year’s resolutions, lots of us aim to start each year with new, healthy habits. It’s wise not to be overly ambitious with how many habits we take on — our January Monthly Newsletter mentioned just one — so it’s a good idea to spend some time really thinking about what to focus on.

One good way to consider your options and how to turn them into realities is to read up on the matter. And to that end, before we’re too far into this fresh new year, here are some excellent books on the subject to consider.

1. “Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning”

The idea that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is straight-up false. It turns out effective learning is itself learnable. Even professional teachers often believe a series of myths about learning that authors Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel dispel in this book about what studies show really works. Whether you want to learn one new thing this year or accelerate a lifelong learning journey, “Make It Stick” will take you through spaced repetition, memory retrieval, and deep learning rather than an illusion of knowing. Through teaching these methods, it will help to ensure that any new habits you take on actually stick.

2. “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People”

If you’ve been in a bookstore or library in the last few decades, chances are you’ve seen this wildly successful book on display. Have you wondered what’s in it? Now might be the time to find out! Basically, if you know you want to refresh your life a bit but you’re not sure what specific habit to pursue, this book is a great place to start. One summary of “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People” did us the service of listing out the habits covered in the book, which makes for a handy preview if you’re considering picking up a copy. The habits are:

  • Be Proactive
  • Begin With The End In Mind
  • Put First Things First
  • Think Win-Win
  • Seek First To Understand Then Be Understood
  • Synergize
  • Sharpen The Saw

If some of those seem a bit cryptic, just know that the book is anything but. It’s laid out in an infographic format, which makes it eminently clear and readable.

3. “Eating With Fierce Kindness: A Mindful and Compassionate Guide to Losing Weight”

This one is something of an antidote to fad diets –– which as we all know are all too often the focus of those ambitious resolutions. In the book, author Sasha T. Loring lays out a case and method for changing how you approach food. Eating is so often tied into emotion, in ways we don’t often credit when trying to improve our patterns and choices. For anyone who overeats and then applies a guilt mentality, Loring’s mindful, nurturing program is sure to help. And it may just leave you with some more constructive health and diet habits to consider.

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4. “Essential Zen Habits: Mastering the Art of Change, Briefly”

Okay, so you’re working on your diet. Maybe you found the mindful approach useful. Could there be more to learn from the Buddhists that developed the techniques of meditation over the course of the last two and a half millennia?

Minimalist Leo Babauta has written a successful blog about Zen habits for years, but “Essential Zen Habits” is a great bundling of his wisdom into a practical, digestible format. Babauta’s economy of words is a reflection of the philosophy, which he demonstrates as a means to hanging habits in six weeks’ time.

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5. “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business”

If you’re looking to get into the nitty gritty of the psychology of habit formation, author Charles Duhigg has you covered. Once we understand more about the science of how habits work, argues Duhigg, we can leverage that understanding to change our own habits. This book is very explicit regarding the extent of control we have over our own lives –– and how we can gain more.

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Pick up any one of these books, and you’re likely to have all the more success making positive changes to your life throughout the year ahead.

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