Category: Recommended Reads

Recommended Read: Atomic Habits

Multiple books have contributed to my discovery of what it means to find a sense of personal freedom in our lives, and I just finished up another great one: Atomic Habits by James Clear. So many points in this book resonated with me (you should read it), but below are five points and reminders that stuck with me in this particular season.

1. Tracking Habits v Tracking Time
I’ve been a fan and proponent of tracking my time for a while, but what I never really considered was that a deeper analysis of a time tracker would actually uncover personal habits (duh). In my mind, I was simply looking for things that sucked away time I could be spending elsewhere. But by understanding my normal tendencies, I can better implement the habit-creation methods outlined in the book to start new habits (and avoid old ones).

2. We tend to create habits based on outcomes, not identity
In my opinion, introspection is a huge part of being able to achieve personal growth. Assessing where I’ve come from allows me to course correct for the future. But James points out the fact that we often pick our growth goals in the wrong order. We start with the outcome in mind (ex: run a marathon) and then create a plan (ie. buy a training program). But what we fail to consider is if we even identify (or want to identify) ourselves as being a “runner”. Effective goal selection and habit creation has to start with an understanding of our own identity – either who we are or who we are striving to become. As I talk about in my TEDx talk, we have to weigh and rank our values to know how we ought to be spending our time.

3. Decisive Moments
I’ve never had a good phrase to describe this phenomenon, but I’m now going to start using this one. James calls a decisive moment those seemingly small actions that can compound throughout the day for better or for worse.

An immediate example of “for worse” that came to mind for my own life was that, over the last couple months, I got in the bad habit of turning off my 5:30am alarm and just crawling back in bed. On days when I did this, I missed my entire window to execute my morning routine. When that happened, the rest of the day had a different feel. It changed my mood and overall satisfaction by the time I get back in bed that night because I hadn’t accomplished those things that mattered to me earlier in the day.

As a result, I’m now trying to implement a new, simple habit that cues my body to stay out of bed and jump into my desired routine. We’ll see how this goes…

4. The importance of environment
One study referenced talks about the fact that it’s nearly impossible to avoid an ingrained habit if the cue still exists; we see this in addicts who relapse after leaving rehab because they return to the same environment. On the other hand, another study concluded that “disciplined” people are only more disciplined because they spend less time in tempting situations. They’ve designed an environment where they can succeed. James says, “Whatever habits are normal in your culture are among the most attractive behaviors you’ll find”.

When we think about that quote in the context of our work environments, the implications on company culture are massive. The same can be said for our family lives and relationships. Who we surround ourselves with has major implications on who we become.

5. To maintain habits, you have to fall in love with boredom
I really appreciated this perspective. I now see that it’s normal to be able to admit that I’m “bored” with a routine after a while. Simply put, “No habit will stay interesting forever”. However, I have to keep in mind that if that routine is serving a bigger a purpose, I need to push through and continue to do it. If it’s important to me, I have to slog through the slow times to keep advancing toward my ideal identity. Becoming great at something takes time and commitment. Peak results won’t come instantly. As Gary V always advocates, you’ve got to love the process.

In short, I highly recommend this book. It’s practical and applicable and has a ton more to offer than just these five takeaways of mine. Have you read it? What did you think?

Book Review: Total Money Makeover

If you’re looking for a true plan to follow to transform your financial situation, I would highly recommend checking out Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. It walks you through Dave’s Seven Baby Steps…a process that will make you “live like no one else, so that later you can live (and give) like no one else”, as Dave says.

total money makeover

I was given the book almost two and a half years ago, and it changed the way I think about money!

The 7 Baby Steps are as follow:

  1. Save $1,000 As A Starter Emergency Fund
  2. Use The Debt Snowball To Pay Off Your Debts
  3. Have A 3-6 Month Emergency Fund
  4. Invest 15% of Your Income For Retirement
  5. Save For Your Kid’s College
  6. Pay Off Your Home Early
  7. Build Wealth And Give

The biggest thing to know about this process is that it’s just that, a process. It takes time. The primary goal is to truly change your habits. With your newfound habits, you end up building momentum that has the power to change your financial direction.

The book contains information on everything from saving, budgeting, investing and giving. You learn how to begin a financial plan, which is huge for building confidence in any endeavor. It also has inspirational anecdotes to motivate and inspire you; stories from real people who have made the same decisions and faced the same struggles as millions of others. It’s relatable, personable and a quick read — I got hooked and finished it in less than 24 hours (it was a lazy weekend).

The one area I’m not 100% sure about is his insistence in step four that an abundance of mutual funds can be found averaging a 12% to 15% return year after year. I’ve only done a limited amount of research, but mutual funds with that type of track record weren’t exactly falling out of the sky. (And in my google searches of Dave, that’s the one area of his plan that many people tend to balk at.) So I still need to get with a financial advisor and get some professional guidance, but outside of that I fully intend to keep walking the baby step trail to lucky number seven.

One of my favorite parts of Dave’s philosophies is that it’s scripturally based. He doesn’t say that we should build up a pile of money in order to hoard it and say “look at me”. The goal is to keep our house in order and be able to give our money away to help others, but the only way to do that is to live a life with financial self-discipline, taking one baby step at a time.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone that is unsure of how to start getting out of debt or simply looking for guidance on how to successfully manage your income on a day to day and month to month basis. Check it out and let me know what you think!

4 Books to Help Launch Your Dream


If you have an ounce of entrepreneurial spirit in you, odds are good you’re looking at 2015 and thinking “This is my year!” You’re ready to bust out and do something big. When I decided I wanted to start this blog, I began to look for resources to help focus my goals and bring my vision to life. Below are four books that I found extremely motivating and technologically insightful to get this show on the road. Regardless of what you have in mind, each of these has something to offer.

off balance

1. Off Balance by Matthew Kelly
The primary takeaway here is that work-life “balance” isn’t real. One will always effect the other, so it’s a matter of finding what’s important to you and prioritizing. Along with helping you determine these priorities, Matthew also shares his system to drive behavioral change. As he says, “Satisfaction doesn’t come from experiences and things, but rather having experiences and things that you deem important”.



2. Essentialism by Greg McKeown
With a similar feel to “Off Balance”, this book helps you figure out how to do less but do it better – cutting out the trivial many for the important few. Greg discusses topics like the power of choice, the importance of sleep (my favorite section) and how to say “no” gracefully, among many other things. He then gives his step-by-step process to work toward the “essentialist” life. A must-read for anyone feeling overwhelmed and too busy for their own good!


start3. Start by Jon Acuff
A great book that’s both motivational and humorous, Jon’s writing style is easy to relate to – because we’ve all been in a situation where we just needed the gumption to get going. This book will help you flip the switch to “awesome” by debunking any fears lurking inside of you. Whether it’s making action payments at 5:30am or going to rehab to gain experience, Jon is honest with you about how to begin your journey and get where you want to go.



4. Platform by Michael Hyatt
Talk about a power-house playbook! Not sure how to get your message heard or set yourself up for success in the digital world? Read this book. I knew how to blog and use social media before I read Platform, but Michael lays how out to tie it all together (and then the real work begins). I know I’ve only scratched the surface in the whole process, but I’m also confident I’m headed in the right direction – and that’s a good feeling to have. It’s an in-depth discussion on setting up your product, your blog and your social media and then leveraging those resources to stay in contact with your tribe to drive success.

So there you have it…my recommendation for some great reads to help pursue your dreams in 2015. What are your goals for this year, and what will you have to do to accomplish them? Any recommended reads you’d like to share? Please let me know in the comments!