4 Must-Read Self-Improvement Books for Goal Setting

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READING TIME: 4 min.

As summer draws to a close and the school year gets into full swing, it is a great time to set new goals.

Here are 4 inspirational books to help with your September goal setting.

Goal: Be more productive.
Book: Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

We all know how easy it is to become distracted when you are trying to be productive at work. New message notification alerts. Phone calls. The siren call of social media.

In my house, it’s the near constant interruptions from kids looking for snacks, drinks, or just to chat.

In Deep Work, Cal Newport teaches you how to develop your focus and resist distractions to enable you to do the “deep work” that requires intense concentration. Finally writing that book that you’ve got inside of you? That requires deep work. So too does that presentation that will make or break your career.

Warning. Your goal should not be to spend hours every work day engaged in “deep work.” Newport is presumably only able to do this thanks to the help of personal assistant(s) for the work interruptions and an understanding spouse for the kid interruptions, a fact he neglects to include in his book.

But I do like the idea of deliberately scheduling time in your schedule for deep work, time when you set your computer and phone into “do not disturb” mode, let someone else worry about the kids, and focus just on the task at hand. For me, early Sunday mornings and late Sunday afternoons are reserved for the deep work writing sometimes requires.

Goal: Use time more wisely.
Book: I Know How She Does It: How the Most Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time by Laura Vanderkam.

The premise of Laura Vanderkam’s book is simple—you have more time to develop your career and enjoy your personal life than you think.

Vanderkam analyzed time logs from successful working mothers to glean tips and tricks for making the most out of time spent at work and at home. Her strategy is to think in terms of 168 hour (the number of hours in a week) blocks of time rather than 24.

Try tracking your time spent watching TV and scrolling social media for a week and you will see just how much time you really do have to read more books.

One easy change I made after reading Vanderkam’s book and keeping a time log was to always keep my Kindle e-Reader and a journal in my purse. Now when I have a few minutes to kill in the school carpool line or at the soccer fields, I spend that time reading and journaling rather than mindlessly scrolling social media.

woman writing in journal

Goal: Achieve a more equitable distribution of chores and responsibilities at home.
Book: Fair Share: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live) by Eve Rodsky

It will come as a surprise to no one that moms typically do more than their fair share of household chores and responsibilities, especially when the mental load of managing household and family is factored in.

In Fair Share, Eve Rodsky uses lessons learned in her own marriage to teach how to deal out duties more equally in your marriage. She recommends negotiating the top 100 things required to make a household work—everything from who takes out the trash to who is responsible for signing kids up for summer camp.

It’s a fun read and by no means a diatribe against men.

While my husband and I have yet to sit down and negotiate the 100 household tasks identified by Rodsky, we have adopted some of the lessons from her book.

My favorite? One person being responsible from start to finish for a task.

For example, kid sports have lots of tasks. Finding a team, signing up for the team, purchasing and keeping track of equipment, keeping track of practice and game schedules, driving kid to and from practices and games, to name just a few. Now one person (my husband) is responsible for all of these tasks (freeing the other person—me—from the mental load of managing the process).

{Read More: 5 Things I’m Accomplishing Now that My House is Empty}

Goal: Get your kids to help out more at home.
Book: Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement by Kay Wills Wyma

Cleaning House is Dallas-area mom Kay Wyma’s account of how she battled her 5 kids’ sense of entitlement by introducing them to basic life skills, one per month, for a year. Not only did her kids learn these basic life skills, they increased their self-confidence and concern for others.

I recently worked with my kids on learning how to do everything that is involved in getting a meal on the table, from planning (including budgeting) and shopping to cooking and clean up. While their meals tend to be a little carb heavy (pasta and fries anyone?), they can put a meal on the table and appreciate how much effort mom puts into dinner.

2 girls cooking

What are your goals for the remainder of the year?

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