As champagne toasts and countdowns ushered in the New Year, many of us jumped to add new habits, workouts, diets, routines, and rituals to our already-busy lives. There is nothing wrong with this—as a self-professed planner junkie and goal-setting veteran, I love me some New Year’s resolutions.
However, adding to an already-full plate often leaves us bailing on our goals before we even hit the end of January. To avoid burnout this February, here are three books to help you simplify your life, live more intentionally, make room for what matters, and set attainable and meaningful goals that you’ll actually stick with.
I first encountered Emily Ley on Instagram, when I stumbled on photos of her beautifully designed line of planners. The Simplified planners encourage women to find balance in their days and leave white in their schedules for what really matters in life (like the dance parties, tickle fights, and crafting sessions that pop out of nowhere). After catching the Simplified Planner bug, I tried to get my hands on all things Emily Ley, including her various books.
Her first book, Grace, Not Perfection, is all about embracing simplicity in all aspects of life in order to beat perfectionism. The book recounts her own journey as a mom and business owner who got to the point where she was so overwhelmed by her bursting calendar that she knew something in her had to shift. Instead of adding more to her schedule, Ley made a resolution to prioritize and make time for what mattered. She began striving for grace rather than perfection, and her life was transformed. This book walks readers through this process and offers helpful tools, such as tips on effective to-do list writing and slowing down your schedule.
The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions by Emily P. Freeman
As someone whose ultimate kryptonite is decision making, when I heard Emily P. Freeman talk about learning to say “no” on this podcast episode, I was hooked. If you’re like me and you RSVP to social invitations out of FOMO and agree to do things out of guilt—or worse, you don’t do anything, because you suffer from chronic hesitation and never make up your mind about it either way—then her book is for you.
Freeman explains how unmade decisions become mental clutter, which in turn causes anxiety that leaks into other areas of our lives. She lays out a step-by-step process that turns decision-making into a simple, soulful practice, in terms of both major life choices and the little decisions that fill our everyday lives. She encourages readers to let go of the fear of making the wrong decision and the guilt of saying “no.” For everything we say “no” to, we make room for something else!
This book, from the creator of the ever-popular Powersheets (and the host of the podcast that introduced me to Freeman!), is all about cultivating the right goals and routines for the season of life you’re in. Lara Casey recounts her own story of leaving behind a life of overwhelm for one of intentionality by coming to terms with an important truth: “We can’t do it all, and do it all well.” The book does a deep dive into the philosophy behind the goal-setting system that her company, Cultivate What Matters, is known for.
Casey explains that if our goals are connected with what matters to us in the big picture and lead us to where we want to be when we’re 80 years old, we’ll actually stick to them. She encourages women to abandon meaningless goals like “lose 10 pounds” for meaningful ones like “love my body so I can see my grandchildren grow up.” By following the journal prompts she includes throughout each chapter, readers reflect on their own goals and learn how to embrace an imperfect, joy-filled life.