Ah, the New Year. Remember welcoming 2021? Remember welcoming 2020? Let’s not do that, actually. Let’s move on and hope for better things. 

Sometimes, though, we have to give those hopes a little gentle nudge so that they’re more likely to come through. This means having determination, SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and anchored within a Time Frame) and resolve. I think you know what I’m getting at here: the infamous New Year’s Resolutions. 

Some get excited (overly excited if you ask me) about their die-hard resolutions. Some dread them and just know they’ll end up failing. Others enter the year with good intentions but promptly forget a mere two weeks into the noble endeavor. I must confess that I personally can’t remember any of my past resolutions. It would help to have it all compiled somewhere in a nice little kit that isn’t overwhelming but does hold me accountable, something with a beginning and an end, something more concrete than a vague sentence on a notepad … something like a book. 

If your resolutions have anything to do with self-improvement (and isn’t that basically the whole point?), you can make things easier and more achievable for yourself by opening a book on the subject. Here are 9 offerings, helping you with anything from better health to better work to better relationships, one of which is sure to align with your goals. 

Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience by Brené Brown

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author, speaker and Ph.D. who has spent two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy comes the latest book that will completely uproot your life for the better. According to the eminent expert herself, “if we want to find the way back to ourselves and one another, we need language and the grounded confidence to both tell our stories and be stewards of the stories that we hear. This is the framework for meaningful connection.” The New Year is the perfect impetus to building this framework.

This book defines, and redefines, a whopping 87 emotions. In this sense, it truly is an encyclopedic atlas providing directions to better relationships and emotional awareness. Of course, a roadmap isn’t a destination: you won’t find all the answers here, but you’ll expand your vocabulary enormously while “keeping it awkward, brave and kind.” If you love Brené as much as we do, check out her latest Unlocking Us podcast episode here!

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The Twelve Monotasks: Do One Thing at a Time to Do Everything Better by Thatcher Wine

Thatcher Wine has established himself as the preeminent thought leader on monotasking. The Twelve Monotasks myth-busts what we’ve all been dutifully taught to believe: that we have to multitask to be our most productive and successful selves and survive in the modern world. Instead, he presents twelve “monotasks” that include reading, walking, and listening as well as an overall method for practicing them to enhance your ability to resist distractions and stay focused.

Neurological research has conclusively shown that multitasking makes us less efficient rather than more productive. “Now, more than ever, I believe that the antidote to our ever-expanding to-do lists, the distractions of modern life, and the fragmentation of our attention is to do one thing at a time,” says Wine. “Once we realize that we are the ones who control our own attention, we can choose where to apply it.” 

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The Human Condition: A Pathway to Peace and Fulfillment by Bob Yari. 

In this philosophical treatise, the author outlines a pathway to fulfillment and happiness based on a balanced lifestyle, a positive mindset and a remembrance of gratitude for the world’s abundance. “There is so much we can take control of in our lives by adjusting our views, attitudes and our responses to external stimuli.” In The Human Condition, readers will be challenged to come to this better understanding, often having to contemplate a different awareness of and focus on concepts that have been embedded into their DNA and their thinking.

This book is self-help and self-realization meant to make people think and experiment with some of the concepts discussed. Ultimately, says the author, a better understanding of the human condition is the key ingredient to achieving happiness. If we can adjust our attitude and our perception of everything that happens to us in life, we can become much happier people. Read our review here

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Purpose and Possibilities by Elaine J. Brzycki, Ed. M. and Henry G. Brzycki, Ph.D.

For these positive psychology experts, the key to finding your purpose in life is increased self-knowledge. This married couple’s self-help book takes a much more scientific approach in terms of helping readers unlock their full potential and includes a series of 15 reflections to undertake. 

These reflections are based on the authors’ research into eight dimensions of well-being, seven factors of psychological well-being and 30 attributes of the authors’ Integrated Self Model. They have also compiled 10 purpose-guiding categories in a model they have coined “The Success Predictor.” Based on 40 years of counseling expertise and course and program development, this self-help book is perfect for anyone looking for a more calculated, step-by-step approach. Read our review here.

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Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant

“The most meaningful way to succeed is to help others succeed.” Thank you for coming to this TED talk. No, really: the author has given a TED talk about “how to stop languishing and start finding flow,” and I don’t know about you, but this New Year it sounds pretty good to languish less. Brené Brown of previous note exclaims, “This is the right book for right now. Yes, learning requires focus. But, unlearning and relearning requires much more — it requires choosing courage over comfort … I’ve never felt so hopeful about what I don’t know.”

Grant teaches you how to rethink and unlearn as well as welcome ideas that challenge our current worldview. Apparently, he’s successfully convinced Yankees fans to root for the Red Sox, and as a till-death-do-us-part Yankees fan myself, I’m highly impressed. He will help readers cultivate mental flexibility, humility and curiosity rather than the habituated thought patterns that actually do more harm than good. “If knowledge is power, knowing what we don’t know is wisdom.”

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On the Road Less Traveled: An Unlikely Journey From the Orphanage to the Boardroom by Ed Hajim.

“Anything is possible in America,” says the author, “And that road of life is always under construction.” He should know. At a very early age, life took him on a journey from one dire situation to the next, from unfamiliar foster homes to crowded orphanages, from having one semi-present parent to having none. Yet somehow, using his own grit and determination, Hajim flourished. His life came full circle, and he has lived the American dream as an accomplished, respected Wall Street executive and philanthropist.

The vivid memoir is several storylines in one: the improbable tale of how the author overcame the heavy odds against him as a child; the incredible ride up the corporate ladder to a stellar professional career; and a study in the drive, principles, philosophy and character of a man seeking his dream. He is quoted as saying “A bend in the road is not the end of the road,” and this book is just the start of your road to a renewed lease on life. Read our review here

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Original Wisdom by Donna Bond

Meet your new spiritual guide to living your best life. With Bond’s help, you will find your “original wisdom,” what is true in you, that “inherent intelligence in all of us rooted in unconditional love.” She is a coach, teacher and leader who values compassionate self-care and has created a coaching program that marries professional and spiritual life in corporate settings with the goal of instilling conscientious leadership. Packaging all that insight into a book is a gift indeed. 

The book is a wonderful, seemingly magical mixture of scientific, well-researched evidence and gentle, personalized philosophy. The author is committed to holding your hand as you find the truth you seek from within, not without; because according to this research and advice, you are never without wisdom simply by merit of being alive. Read our review here

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The Seven Gifts by David B. Whitacre

Everyone (yes, even you) possesses a Gift, an emotional and spiritual motivation that guides your subsequent behavior. Discerning yours will improve your quality of life in a myriad of ways while making you a more deeply understanding, and understood, individual. Whitacre learned from studying a variety of sources, from Carl Jung to Charles Darwin, to eventually disclose what he confidently claims is the single best system to get to the heart of humanity. 

It all starts with core motivation, because what leads someone to their actions is far more enlightening than the action itself. Curious? Knowing your Gift is knowing yourself, posits the author, so if you’re someone who is always looking for greater self-knowledge, this is a great tool. Beautiful illustrations and lyrical metaphors help leave a lasting impression. Read our review here

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The Little Book of Big Knowing by Michele Sammons

“Take what resonates,” we’re invited “and chuck the rest, trusting, always, your own inner wisdom above all else.” This sounds too good to be true, and far too easy, but that’s why there’s a book about it. The first key is stretching yourself beyond your comfort zone. It’s a sort of choose-your-own-adventure, a refreshing change of pace from the commandeering, restrictive self-help books appearing on shelves in early January and demanding “zero this” and “only that.”

Each page offers an adage of insight, philosophy and wisdom to be contemplated and applied as readers see fit. Holistic wellness stems from mindfulness, and this book is full of 120 micro-lessons on making the most of every minute of every day. “It’s easy to live life on auto-pilot. Not really paying attention. Phoning it in. But only by being fully conscious in the present moment of your thoughts, choices, desires, state of being, and actions can you genuinely know who you are. Being self-conscious is being self-aware. Self-awareness is an inner listening of the soul.” Read our review here

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