A wise man once told me, “When you have a problem, read a book.” This has proven helpful for me. We always think that our problems are unique and no one in history has ever had them. However, everything is documented somewhere, and the only way to find it is to read. Reading is also a great way to connect to the mind of the author. Yet reading is such a rare activity in this modern age. According to an article in the India Times, we spend 1256 hours a year reading Facebook posts. Just imagine, we spend 52 days mindlessly scrolling through posts that only make us feel more miserable and sad.
As I look back at my life, I think one of the best habits I picked up (by chance) was reading books. Kindle paperwhite happens to be my best $100 investment. Here is a list of some of the books which changed my life for the better. They helped me think differently and make some good choices.
You Can Win by Shiv Khera
This was the first self-help book I ever read after one of my friends gifted it to me back in high school. I was not very happy about it. I could hardly get interested in reading the schoolbooks just enough to pass the exam; forget about a self-help book. As far as I could remember, I only read the first two or three chapters. That was enough to make me a slightly better teenager than I would have been. This has some great advice and offers a new perspective on life with little stories in between to keep things interesting. I should revisit it and read the whole book!
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma
Almost a decade went by in higher studies, making a career, and finding a girlfriend (now wife) before I landed on my next, life-changing book. One of my colleagues suggested this book. I started reading it and found it to be good. Sharma did a really great job in making the book very interesting with a captivating story that resonates with most of us. It gave seven areas of life where we need to focus. This was really a game-changer for me. I read this book at least four or five times and listened to the audiobook many times. One of the key takeaways was the 20-20-20 rule in the morning.
The 20-20-20 rule says every morning invest the first 20 minutes in mediation, journaling, or planning your day. Then spend the next 20 minutes reading and, finally, 20 minutes in intense physical activity (Run/Yoga/Gym; just anything that gets the blood pumping). This will elevate your life to the next level and result in overall improvement. Getting up at 5 AM is one of the best habits that I formed due to this book which allows ample time for these activities.
The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma
Another masterpiece by Robin Sharma. I had already read two or three of his books and made it a habit of reading for 20 mins in the morning (I still do this). This book gave me a new perspective on how we need to focus more on giving the best of ourselves in whatever area we are working on irrespective of the title we carry. All of us are CEOs of ME, Inc. So, whatever you do, put your best foot forward. This is very relevant to freelancing since we work for ourselves, and we have to put our best foot forward day after day.
The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
Another game-changer. One of the greatest books and a bestseller. This emphasizes focusing on one thing and how it can result in achieving the greatest results. In this modern era of distraction and everyone trying to do multiple things at the same time, this timeless principle still holds true. When you focus on one thing you achieve the greatest result. The key takeaway was the miracle question:
What is the ONE thing you can do, such that by doing it everything becomes easier or unnecessary.
The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
This book goes very well with The ONE Thing. It talks about how time is the biggest commodity. Taking small actions for a long time has the greatest results. This helps you keep going even when your actions are not producing any results for a long time. In the Upwork world, that small action is submitting proposals. You never know which of those proposals could result in a long-term client and a constant source of income.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
This is the third book on the same topic and it goes very well with The ONE Thing and The Compound Effect. The Power of Habit explains how to create powerful habits, how habits are formed, and provides some great insights into how our minds work. It also provides details on the habit loop and how good and bad habits work. The habit loop is Cue → Craving →- Rewards. Cue is what triggers cravings. Cravings notify your brain that you need something and rewards are what you get from satisfying your cravings. Just making tiny changes will result in forming good habits and can also help in changing bad habits. It has some great stories of success and failures due to only a small habit that someone had. Overall, it’s a very entertaining book with great insights into human psychology.
The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D. and William D. Danko
All the other books helped in developing a great mindset. This one book changed the way I think about money and helped with my financial health. In this consumer-based society where every TV commercial and billboard is telling you how you can be happy if you buy their products, the reality is they just want you to buy things with your hard-earned money. I loved this book and it helped me in developing a minimalist mindset. When I look around, I find a lot of people buying the things they don’t need with the money they don’t have (i.e. credit cards). One of the must-read books to make you financially healthy.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fu*k by Mark Manson
This is one of the more recent books that I’ve read. A very different kind of book that will change your theory around a lot of things: how failure is important, why happiness is our greatest enemy, and how the desire to be happy affects you negatively. A very interesting book and the author talks about his life and how he applied this theory. Believe me, this book will help you to make tough decisions and worry less. I’m reading this book for the third time and whenever I am driving around, I play the audiobook.
These are just a short list of books that have had an impact on me. I have read many books and every page I read helps me in one way or another. As I always say, "Reading is for the mind what exercise is for the body.” Happy reading!
What books have impacted your personal and professional growth?
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