10 Books That Will Help You Create Better Habits

Experts share their favorite reads that show you how to build consistent routines and stick to your goals.
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Looking to improve your life in the new year? This could mean setting better boundaries with people, motivating yourself to reach a new fitness goal or starting that creative endeavor you’ve been thinking about. One of the best ways to make sure you do any of it is by creating healthy routines for yourself.

“Being intentional about your daily routine is your opportunity to proactively decide how to leverage your habits to help you become healthier and happier while achieving your goals,” Matt East, a productivity coach based in Indianapolis, told HuffPost.

Most resolutions fail ― especially wellness-related ones ― but establishing a solid daily routine can help you avoid that pitfall. That could look like going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, putting a self-care activity on your calendar each week, or meal prepping, among many other things. The point is to figure out what fits into your life while still prompting you to make a change.

“Most people build their routines around their work,” East said. “However, beyond work, being intentional with your routine can help you excel in any area of your life, including reaching your peak level of health and fitness, getting out of debt and creating financial abundance in your life, dedicating more time to your meditative and spiritual practice, and nurturing key relationships and friendships.”

So how exactly do you figure out a good routine for you? These book recommendations from experts can help you get started.

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“Daily Rituals: How Artists Work” by Mason Currey
Anthony Freire, the clinical director and founder of the Soho Center for Mental Health Counseling in New York, recommended this book because of his own creative background.

“I have always been fascinated by artists and poets and some of my favorites are mentioned in the book,” he told HuffPost. “What I learned was that the most successful creatives are almost fanatics when it comes to having a routine; they tended to be early risers, work long hours and go for walks regularly. While I had many of these qualities already, the book helped reinforce my inherent belief in routines.” (Available here.)
"Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears” by Pema Chödrön
Freire also recommended Pema Chödrön’s “Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears,” which helps readers see how certain habitual thought patterns negatively affect your life. The book “draws on the Buddhist concept of shenpa” ― which explores why we often find ourselves hooked on negative patterns ― and guides you on how to recognize these patterns so they can “instantly begin to lose their hold on us and we can begin to change our lives for the better,” according to Goodreads. (Available here.)
“Atomic Habits” by James Clear
This recommendation comes from East, who said he loved the book so much that he began incorporating it in his consultation sessions with clients.

The book promises to help readers with habit formation, including practical strategies on how to make good habits and break bad ones. As the book’s Goodreads description says, “no matter your goals, ‘Atomic Habits’ offers a proven framework for improving — every day.” (Available here.)
“The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp
Speaking of James Clear, he offered his own recommendation to HuffPost: “The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp. The book offers more than 30 exercises to help you tap into your creative side, and promises to help readers restore a sense of order and peace in their lives by creating rituals, increasing self-knowledge, harnessing memories and organizing surrounding spaces. (Available here.)
“Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person” by Shonda Rhimes
In 2015, creative powerhouse Shonda Rhimes released “Year of Yes,” documenting how she spent an entire year saying yes to life, and it was a “game-changer” for Olecia Christie, a certified life coach and owner of Optix Communications in San Antonio.

“It’s not necessarily about establishing routines, but it explores the power of saying yes,” Christie told HuffPost. “When we discover the things and people that are worthy of our time, it’s easy to decide on those that are not. This was a helpful tactic in helping me define my boundaries and routines. It also pulls you into the freedom of authenticity. We are more likely to follow through on our routines if they are organic to who we are and the things we want to accomplish.” (Available here.)
“The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level” by Gay Hendricks
Gay Hendricks’ “The Big Leap” comes highly recommended by Nicole Ward, a licensed marriage and family therapist based in Los Angeles, who read the book just before leaving her full-time job to start her own private practice. Ward also recommended Rhimes’ “Year of Yes,” and told HuffPost that both books “inspired me to examine old routines and create new ones.”

She also noted that these recommendations will nudge you to shake things up and adjust to change, which will ultimately help you with your routines, since “being able to be a flexible thinker can assist in developing lasting routines.” (Available here.)
“The 80/20 Principle: The Secret of Achieving More With Less” by Richard Koch
Shaan Patel, the founder and CEO of Prep Expert, a company focused on helping students work on test scores, recommended “The 80/20 Principle” by Richard Koch. He said he’s been able to use lessons from the book in his work and outside of it.

“I’ve applied the strategies from ‘The 80/20 Principle’ by learning how to drill down my focus into the things that are most essential for success,” Patel told HuffPost. “In life, think about the people, goals, and things that matter most to you, cut away the extraneous distractions, and focus that remaining 80% of your time into those things that matter.” (Available here.)
“The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg
This book was recommended by both East and Ward, and based on its reviews, it’s not hard to see why. It currently has more than 7,000 customer ratings on Amazon, with an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5, and almost 15,000 reviews on Goodreads.

As the title suggests, the book focuses on the power of habits and how paying attention to the patterns that shape our lives can help us achieve lasting success. Duhigg explains why habits exist and how they can be permanently changed to bring about true transformation. He also cites Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. as real-life examples of how habits can directly influence your success. (Available here.)
“High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way” by Brendon Burchard
East included “High Performance Habits” by Brendon Burchard on his list of recommendations because it promises to teach you six habits that will make you absolutely extraordinary. In his book, Burchard, a successful performance coach, explains that the best way to achieve long-term success is to “seek clarity, generate energy, raise necessity, increase productivity, develop influence, and demonstrate courage,” according to Goodreads. (Available here.)
“Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything” by BJ Fogg
Lisa Zaslow, an organization and productivity expert at Gotham Organizers in New York, strongly recommended BJ Fogg’s book, “Tiny Habits.” The book is based on the author’s five-day tiny habit program, which Zaslow told HuffPost is “a great way to build the habit of building habits. It’s helpful to understand the research behind developing habits and how we make lasting changes.”

According to the Tiny Habits website, a typical session involves carefully digesting the material provided to you, then setting three new habits you’d like to implement into your routine. After doing this, you’ll receive daily emails from your habits coach, which will help you to put your desired habits into practice. At the end of the five days, you’ll have a better understanding of how habits work and three new habits to help you achieve your dreams. (Available here.)

Ready to increase your joy? Join our “Happy New Year” challenge. HuffPost editors will put these tips to the test throughout January 2020 to see if they really make a difference. We’ll also publish new stories all month about the pursuit of happiness. Keep checking back on HuffPost Life for updates and share what happiness habits are working for you at wellness@huffpost.com.

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