Oh New Year, how predictable you are. We enter into the freezing cold January mornings telling ourselves that THIS is the year we will stop being fat, lazy, unmotivated and engaging in dangerous hobbies. We start crash diets to be derailed by the horrible people in Tesco’s merchandising department who start selling Easter eggs alongside the unsold Christmas chocolate stash. Every year, we tell ourselves that by December, we are going to be different people. Oh yes, this is the year. I am completely sold on the idea of “New Year, New Me”, but putting it into practice is proving a little harder. There is, however, an industry that takes care of that – the Self Help Book industry.
This industry takes care of everything. If you have a problem (real or imagined), there’s a book (and possibly an audio cd) to help you fix it. Some are preachy. Some are full of it. However, here are five which I have found to actually be of substance AND aren’t condescending – a difficult balance. So, for the New Year, this Friday’s Five is “5 Books for the New Year, New You That are Actually Worthwhile”.
So, where to begin?
The Happiness Project – Gretchen Rubin
I first heard of The Happiness Project from fellow parenting blogger Bumbles of Rice who wrote this post about how she tried to change her own life following the book. I was very intrigued, and then fate threw a copy my way in a charity shop. The book is very readable – she’s not condescending or overly technical/overly simplistic. Some of the stuff was more applicable for me than others – I especially liked the endorsement of throwing money at a problem to make it go away (this year we WILL get a cleaner in to keep the house from turning into complete chaos), and the Go To Bed Earlier advice (have yet to enforce).
I’m going to start the process again this year and hopefully will wind up more relaxed, more organised and better functioning by next January. Her quote about parenting, “The Days are long but the years are short” is one which has stuck with me, especially in the more trying toddler evenings. You can get it here.
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo
This one I can also
blame thank another fellow parenting blogger for. The lovely The Clothesline wrote a lot last year about her discovery of the ways of Marie Kondo. Then Roisin Ingle did a piece with the woman herself for The Women’s Podcast.
Hands up, my house is like a bomb hit it since Christmas and I need to bring the Marie Kondo joy into my life again (there’s a project for my day off). However, the entire concept of “Only keeping the things that spark joy” has spoken to me and has affected the way I shop and decide what to keep and what to bin. Those jeans that haven’t fit since before I had E? Getting rid – if and when I lose the weight, I will buy new ones to celebrate my new figure. I’m due to do a massive Charity Shop drop of books and other things I simply don’t use soon and will be invoking her policies for this. Get tidying up with the Kindle Book here.
Brene Brown (Many)
My love affair with Brene Brown began in my therapist’s office. She recommended I listen to her TED talk on vulnerability and shame. From the outset, I was thinking there was going to be nothing there for me. Listening to the talk (and the audiobooks thereafter), I realised these are exactly issues I need to work on. We all do. It’s the way our society works.
I’m currently reading “Daring Greatly”. I’ve recently finished the audiobook of “Rising Strong” and the one I really recommend, “The Power of Vulnerability”. That one isn’t a book as such, its a recording of her live talks over two days. It’s six hours long. Add to this, it’s funny. It’s interesting. It will make you think about the different processes you go through each day, and how they are affecting different things in your life. I’m enjoying Daring Greatly a lot, but listening to the author actually reading the books does make a difference (she didn’t record the audio for DG, she did for the others). It’s available on Kindle for 1.99 at the moment if you want to check it out.
Shonda Rhimes “The Year of Yes”
Shonda Rhimes, yes her who produces Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and various other shows, wrote a book about her decision to say yes to everything for a full year. It’s like the book Yes Man, written very endearingly. I listened to this as an audiobook, which is read by the author herself. It includes clips from speeches she has made, stories from her life and lessons she learned along the way. I fell in love.
In saying yes to more things, she opened herself up to a number of new opportunities and life experiences. Yes, I hear you say, thats great for her who can throw money and childcare at things. She’s coming from a different place than most of us. However, when it comes down to it, she’s an incredibly busy career woman AND a single mother. Yes she can throw money at problems but she still has the juggle of attending kids school plays or important work functions, just like the rest of us.
As a mother returning to the workplace, I found her quote about going to work to be soothing to me. Not that I needed a justification to go back to work for my own sanity, I’ll openly admit to that. It did help with the guilt though. Check it out here (and I would recommend trying the audio version, it’s fab, use your Audible trial!)
The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving A F**k – Sarah Knight
This one makes a small bit of reference to that Marie Kondo book up above. Like some of the others, this one I listened to rather than read. Instead of cleaning my actual house, this one made me focus on cleaning house of the rest of my life. People pleasing is a trap I, and countless others, fall into daily. It can seem easier but create so much more stress for us.
So, Sarah Knight, taking a sense of humour and common sense to the topic, teaches us to give less fucks. She teaches us to save them for the things that truly do matter. In the last two years I’ve had to scale back things I’ve done a bit due to my back. I’ve been finding myself running out of spoons. Well, now as well as counting spoons, I have my fucks to count too. This book in one line? “How to stop spending time you don’t have with people you don’t like doing things you don’t want to do.” Sounds about right. Get it for Kindle here.
So, those are my five picks to kick start your new year of change. Got any thoughts or recommendations? Let me know in the comments, on Facebook or over on Twitter. I’m looking to increase the amount I read this year, so I’d love any additions to the list!
Happy New Year – best of luck with whatever change you decide to make.
As a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk, I may get a few pingins towards my next self improvement project if you decide to purchase any of these after reading this by clicking on the links in the names. No pressure, promise.