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I’m a bit of a personal development junkie. I love books that educate me and push me to be better. In the past 5 years, I’ve read dozens of “self-help” style books. But there are a few that I find myself recommending to people over and over again because they are seriously changed my life! So, I decided to compile them into one list for all of you (and share with you a bit of why I think each one is worth your time).
1. The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life- Before 8 AM by Hal Elrod
This was one of the first personal development books I read, and while it isn’t my #1 favorite, I recommend reading it first. Thousands of people (including me) have undergone transformations since implementing Hal’s suggestions.
As the title suggests, Hal Elrod describes the importance of creating a powerful morning routine. He provides tips on how to wake up early— no matter what doubts you harbor that you’ll never be a morning person. Hal also describes the early morning rituals that changed his life forever, including exercising, meditation, journaling, and reading. If you follow his instructions, soon you’ll be waking up early with extra time to read the rest of this list, so read this first!
Related posts: How and Why I Became a Morning Person
2.The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey
This is the book that transformed my finances forever. After getting married young and being clueless about managing money, my husband and I dug ourselves into $40,000 of debt. Reading The Total Money Makeover opened my eyes. I was making so many mistakes with money, and they all started with my mindset. I believed many of the myths that Dave debunks in this book. I’m willing to bet— you do too!
More than anything, this book helped me to see the big picture. If I could dig my family out of debt, save for emergencies, and invest for the future, I knew that our life would be better. I knew that didn’t want to be stressing about money for the rest of my life (this is a reality for so many) and I wanted to do whatever I could change secure my financial future. Since first reading TMM, we have successfully paid off our debt. We’ve also bought our dream home and added another baby to our family. Plus, I was able to quit my full-time job and finally pursue my passion for writing! SO MUCH GOOD STUFF!
Related posts: How I Paid Off $40k in Debt with Two Young Kids
Check out my guest post on the site “I Heart Frugal”: Debt Pay off Story: How One Woman Paid off 40k Worth of Debt
3. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
This book is a classic and it deserves to be. The seven habits detailed by Stephen Covey are nothing short of brilliant. They will teach you how to be a better person, how to treat people well, and how to live in line with your true values. Too many of us are chasing after goals and ideas that aren’t in line with our values. We work towards climbing the “ladder” to success, only to later realize we’ve made a huge mistake. As Covey says, “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.”
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People shows you how to create a personal mission statement based on what’s most important to you. You then work backward to create your goals. The idea is that your goals and your schedule should be based on what actually matters, and not on work that will someday be meaningless. Read this one and then read it again!
4. The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman
The love languages are pretty well-known among Christians but— although I had heard of them— I didn’t really understand what they were all about. If you aren’t familiar with the love languages, READ THIS. The premise is that we all communicate and receive love primarily in one of five languages. The five languages are quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, and gifts.
This book was a game-changer for my marriage. My love language is acts of service. So, the best way for my husband to communicate love to me is to do things like clean the house. However, he does not receive love well through acts of service, so if I try to love him by cleaning the house, he’s not going to get it. Once I found the love languages, it was like it all finally clicked. I understood why we had struggled and– despite being very in love– we didn’t always feel loved by each other.
Bonus: This book isn’t going to just help your marriage! It will make you a better parent, friend, sister, daughter, etc.
5. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
You’ve probably heard of Marie Kondo by now. Apart from this best-selling book, Marie also has a hit Netflix series about tidying. You’ll see in both her book and show that she’s a bit out there with some of her practices, but her decluttering process is AMAZING.
When I first read her book, I was living in a small house. Every corner of the house was packed with stuff. Closets were full, drawers barely opened, and even my kitchen cabinets were jam-packed. I held on to things for all the wrong reasons. But after walking through the KonMari method, I realized how fun and how freeing decluttering can be! Now, I err on the side of minimalism (though I’m not extreme) and I love getting rid of things. My home is so much easier to organize now and I honestly love everything that’s in it! What a relief!
Related post: How I Keep My Home Organized With Three Small Kids
6. Present over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist
This book changed my life in two ways. I was in a stage of life where I believed I needed to hustle more, stay up late, and work hard day and night to achieve any of my goals. Shauna’s book made me reflect on why I felt this drive that didn’t allow me to rest. Suddenly, my thinking started to shift. I realized that I am already loved, already enough, and I can be satisfied right now. I have nothing against hard work— it’s crucial. But now I recognize the importance of balance, of resting when God calls me to rest and being present in my life. Since reading this book, I’ve become a better mom and I’ve had more business success than I did when I thought working 24/7 was the answer.
This book also helped me pursue my dream of writing. There was something about Shauna’s beautiful words that inspired me and made me believe that I could really do it. I realized that I was doing plenty of work that I didn’t love and making an income, so why not shift my focus to doing work that I actually enjoyed and try to make an income from that? So far, it’s the best work decision I’ve ever made. I still have to pinch myself some mornings that writing is actually my job now!
Related posts: Are Your Big Dreams Ruining Your Life?
7. The Confidence Gap: A Guide to Overcoming Fear and Self-Doubt by Russ Harris
I’ve struggled with confidence my entire life. Can you relate? My mind constantly tries to tell me negative things about myself, no matter what external evidence reveals. I have often thought that I wasn’t good enough at whatever I was doing, even if I was successful and the world was telling me “Yes, you are good at this!”
The Confidence Gap was SO HELPFUL for me in this area. I realized that I’m not alone and I realized that the solution isn’t as simple as repeating affirmations in the mirror each day. Your negative thoughts can’t be squashed overnight, but you can learn to disengage with them. That means that even if your mind tries to tell you that you’ll never be good enough at anything, you can accept that this is a lie and not allow it to have power over your life.
Related posts: How to Quit Comparing Yourself to Others
8. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and It’s All Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life by Richard Carlson
I think everyone could benefit from reading this book, but if you find yourself constantly stressed, worrying, and never able to relax, you need to put this one on your list! It’s another classic. The chapters are very short, so you can easily read one a day as part of your morning routine.
One of my favorite lessons (among many) is the idea that your in-basket with never be empty. That means that you shouldn’t wait until you complete your “to-do list” before beginning to enjoy your life. You will always have more to do. You don’t need to finish it all before you can rest, be present, and enjoy life.
Related post: Worrying, Achieving, and Learning to Be Still
9. Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
This is the book that inspired my post, 6 Things to Stop Doing If You Want Your Kids to Get Along. For a parenting book, it’s a very fun read. Adele and Elaine provide practical, you-can-try-this-today advice to help your kids start getting along better.
An unexpected piece of advice that I’ve taken from this book was to stop forcing my kids to share. I realized that forcing sharing between my girls was creating the opposite of my desired result. I want my kids to be willing to share, but when I force it on them, they end up angry at each other (and me) and clinging to their possessions that much more. But when I gently encourage them to share but tell them that the choice is theirs, I usually get much better results. You’ll get advice like this– and so much more– when you read this book!
If there is ONE book that’s changed my life more than any other, it’s the BIBLE! But Women of the Word has helped me to study it, so I had to include it!
I wish I could put this book into the hands of every Christian woman I know. As Christians, reading God’s word should be a foundational part of our lives. But so many of us are relying on our pastors or other teachers to tell us what the Bible says. While we are very fortunate to have endless resources available to us, these should be a supplement to our personal study. It’s important that we are reading the Bible for ourselves and trying to understand it’s meaning before we turn to others to explain it to us.
This book outlines a process for women to conduct their very own Bible studies without outside help. Since diving deep into the Word (using Jen’s advice), I have grown to love my morning quiet time more than ever. If you’re a Christian, or if you’re curious about learning more about the Bible, pick up this book! You won’t be sorry!
Related post: Easy Things a Busy Mom Can Do To Enjoy Quiet Time with God (this is a guest post I wrote for the site “One Determined Life.”
I hope you read some of these books and that they help transform your life in a positive way. What are some of the most impactful books you’ve read? Feel free to share in the comments!
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