Ever tried to change a habit? Not so easy, is it?
Thoughts and actions become habits because we’ve repeated them so often we don't even think about them. They've became natural, almost instinctive. Often we're not even really aware of the situations that lead us to engage in the habit in the first place. All of that can make change really hard.
I've found these five books (plus a bonus book!) to be really, really helpful in my own progress in changing habits and in the development of my personal Success Framework. Each has something (or some things!) valuable to offer. Check 'em out. They're pretty awesome.
Perhaps the most influential book in my library of changing habits is Change Anything by Joseph Grenny and his coauthors. This book is an excellent and easy read even though it includes a lot of research.
Essentially, Change Anything helps you recognize that you often fail because you focus on having enough willpower rather than controlling the things that influence you to fail. Then they break the areas that influence you into six areas and teach you to observe and control those areas of influence.
As an example, if you’re trying to stop eating sweets, you could try and depend on just your willpower. But if you want an even greater chance of success, you recognize that keeping sweets in the kitchen where they are super easy to access is a temptation you can actually change. Remove them from the kitchen and your chances of success dramatically go up.
One of the foundational books for changing habits is Mindset by Carol Dweck. One of her revolutionary concepts is the difference between a creative mindset versus a fixed mindset. So often we reward people, including ourselves, based on things we can’t really control.
For example, saying success is based on smarts rather than effort. “Oh, you did so well on that, you must be really smart!” From a mindset perspective, that teaches you that there’s nothing you can do to change—so you might as well not try. And if you fail, it’s because you’re not as smart as you think.
The message is to focus on what we can control—mental and emotional effort, repentance, and such.
I also love Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith. In this book he teaches to recognize that we are influenced by things that happen around us. These are things that trigger our responses and behaviors. When we become aware of those influences, we can start to make plans to counter them or respond in the ways we want to behave rather than based on habit.
In other words, you aren’t doomed to repeat bad habits once you recognize the things that tend to cause them. He also helps you create a mental picture of your desire to change.
James Clear’s Atomic Habits is another great read that ties a lot of these ideas together, though loosely. He helps you recognize cues, kind of like triggers, and create strategies to change behavior.
Rather than try and change everything all at once, or to huge levels, Clear invites you to focus on little changes that aggregate over time into big success. I listened to this one and found it an easy read.
One of the top writers and speakers on changing habits is Brendon Burchard. His book, High Performance Habits, really helps you see the mindset behind successful change. I love his energy and easy way of breaking things down. He uses a six step approach: seek clarity, generate energy, raise necessity, increase productivity, develop influence, and demonstrate courage. It’s a great read with great ideas.
I find all of these books really helpful. I’ve incorporated aspects from each one into my own coaching and success training. You could benefit greatly from following the approach from any one of them, though I think my hybrid approach that incorporates elements from each of them makes them more adaptable and customizable to individual needs.
Bonus Book - The Four Tendencies by Gretchin Rubin
Just for kicks, I'm throwing in a bonus book for you to consider. The Four Tendencies by Gretchin Rubin looks at personality profiles from a totally different perspective. Now, you may be wondering, "Why a personality book when we're talking about changing habits?"
Good question! I'm recommending this book because Rubin's focus is on how we react to expectations. When you're working on changing habits, you're creating an expectation on yourself to do things differently than you've done before. And that can be hard for a lot of reasons. Rubin ask you to consider how you respond to an expectation to do something. Do we naturally accept expectations and love them? Do we push back against them? Are we much better at them when someone else is doing it with us or holding us accountable? Or do we accept them, but only after a thorough evaluation of the pros and cons?
When you think about things from this angle, it helps you develop a much more effective plan for yourself personally—and with the people who will help you along the way.
PS: If you’re ready to gain vision on your goals, clarity on the obstacles that get in your way, and create an effective strategy that will move you forward, read my post, “How to Achieve Your Goals (in 4 Simple Steps)", then download my Success Staircase and Framework (the link is on the page). It’s a clear, holistic, and effective strategy you can start—today!