Looking for guidance? I’ve been fascinated with the idea of making small tweaks that have big effects, as well as putting in railings to keep me on track. Here are the best resources I’ve discovered so far:
Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg is the best thing I read this year. An absolutely mind-blowing book on how to improve your decision-making and meet your goals. A highlight for me was the concept of imagining multiple possible outcomes — not all of them good — so that you can influence the future and tip the scales in your favor. Every chapter of this book was one startling revelation after another.
The Science of Well-Being,” taught by professor Laurie Santos, confounded my alma mater, Yale University, early in 2018 — they had to keep moving it to bigger lecture halls. Happily for us, they recorded it for Coursera, where you can take it for free online. Which I did. Coursera makes you give them your e-mail address to log in, but once you do, you can search for “Santos” or follow this link. Terrific, actionable, eye-opening. Implementing her strategies — notably, doing more of my ‘signature strength’ — made me happier.
If you are looking for someone to guide you through the actual goal-setting process, you can’t do better than my friend and mentor, Suzanne Lyons. She has a free playlist on YouTube of 10 Tips for Goal-Setting. Suzanne works primarily in the entertainment industry, but her philosophy is universal: she believes that choosing a fulfilling future to live into is more productive than trying to fix what’s been wrong in the past. Her goal-setting is never about “fixing” yourself, it’s about living into the golden future you desire.
Tiny Habits is another mind-opener. I took the free week-long program and from it, I began — after pouring my morning coffee — writing down one thing that I wanted to get done that day. Unbeknownst to me, I was “priming” myself to get that one thing done. That concept came to me from Nudge, a fascinating book on “choice architecture” by Nobel Prize-Winning Economist Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein.
It was his wonderful TED talk that brought Shawn Achor to my attention, but his book The Happiness Advantage brought to the fore the idea that we take the path of least resistance — and so we have to make that path the one we actually want to take. He experiments with ways to make the choice he wants to make the easy choice — and it turns out you only have to make it easy by about 20 extra seconds. You can also make the choice you don’t want to make more difficult by roughly 20 seconds (my favorite was when he took the batteries out of his remote) and voila! You are less-likely to veer off-track. His second book, Before Happiness, is about the mindset that allows us to change for the better. Everything he writes is worth reading.
(Note: while the books are Amazon Affiliate links, none of the other resources are affiliates in any way. In fact, they’re all free. Enjoy!)