the power of habit

Paula Plant – Writer, Globetrotter, Landlord

Paula Plant is a journalist-turned-blogger who helps people shatter limits, ditch the cubicle and live life on their own terms. She’s traveled to 30 countries, owns six rental property units, and hasn’t had an employer since 2008. Her blog, Afford Anything, is the gathering point for a tribe that refuses to say, “I can’t afford it.”

Good things to read.

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg. Our daily actions are more guided by unconscious habits than we may realize, Duhigg writes. In order to change our behavior, we must focus on the triggers and cues that relate to our habits, rather than rely on willpower alone.

A Year of Living Biblically, by A.J. Jacobs. I will read anything that A.J. Jacobs writes. He could write directions to the 7-Eleven on the back of a napkin, and I’d read it. Simply stated: Jacobs is hilarious. His blend of earnestness, candor and intelligence is rare in the world of humor writing.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You, by Cal Newport. This book argues a notion that I’ve long believed: passion is the result, not the cause, of doing hard work everyday. I’ve written about this concept on my own blog, and Newport articulates and expands this idea brilliantly in this book.

Good things to watch.

This is tough, because I don’t watch a lot of video. But here we go …

Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford Commencement Address. This graduation speech features no fluff, no filler, and no overhyped clichés. It’s pure, raw inspiration.

Legends of the Fall. This has been my favorite movie ever since I first watched it back in 1995, thanks to its brilliant character development, its rich setting (both in scenery and in history), and its themes of loyalty, freedom and duty.

Game of Thrones. Because it’s awesome. ‘Nuff said.

Good things to use.

Dropbox. Buy an upgraded account and use it to store every digital file you’ve ever created, including (especially) all your photos, videos and personal notes. Imagine how you’d feel if you lost all your data. Dropbox is cheap insurance. (And it’s much easier than backing things up to an external hard drive!)

An Adjustable Standing Desk. Sitting wrecks havoc on your body. If you perform work that requires you to spend 6-8 hours a day at a computer, invest in an adjustable standing desk. The more expensive versions allow you to adjust between sitting and standing. Alternately, if you want a cheaper version, just keep two desks in your office: one that’s standing-height and one that’s sitting-height.

Evoluent Mouse. I’m so in love with this mouse that I carry it with me on trips baggage limits be damned. Most computer mice require you to rotate your wrist into a palm-down position, which is unnatural. The Evoluent lets you rest your wrist in a handshake position, which puts less strain on the joint.

Connect with Paula on Twitter, @AffordAnything.

James Clear – Behavior Scientist, Habit Master

James Clear writes at where he shares ideas about using behavior science to master your habits and improve your performance. For fresh ideas on how to live a healthy life — both mentally and physically — join his free newsletter, these are his good things.

Good things to read.

Complications by Atul Gawande. Gawande is a surgeon and a fascinating storyteller. In my opinion, this is easily the best of his books. I find this book particularly compelling because of my love for medicine, but even people who aren’t interested in healthcare will find this to be a wonderful read.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. Duhigg does an excellent job of summarizing the recent research on habit formation and how it impacts your everyday life. Books like this are useful because they force you to consider the many patterns and routines that you often fall into without much thought.

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling. I don’t know many people who haven’t read this, which probably says something. If you haven’t, it’s arguably the greatest fictional series of all-time. Rowling’s storytelling ability and character development is incredible. I don’t know a single person who hated the books and many readers are totally obsessed. If you’re wondering if it’s worth your time to read all seven, it is.

Good things to watch.

Breaking Bad. Quite possibly the best television series of all-time. Everything about Breaking Bad is top-notch. The plot is excellent. The writing is excellent. The cinematography is excellent. My favorite part is how many subtle pieces of foreshadowing are hidden throughout the show — both visually and through dialogue.

Searching for Sugar Man. This is the best documentary I’ve seen yet. It’s a story that is so unbelievable, you almost forget that it’s real as you watch it. I’m still shaking my head.

The Wire.  I think this is the only TV show where I was actually sad when it ended. Based in Baltimore, The Wire gives you a fascinating (and, at times, heartbreaking) view of crime in the city. It’s also an extremely realistic show. Every character has flaws and makes mistakes. Stick with it for a few episodes and you’ll probably be hooked for good.

Good things to use.

A camera. I love photography. It’s a wonderful way to capture the world around you and share it with others. And it’s also an excellent reminder that life is meant to be lived in the physical world. It’s great to think, but our digital age makes it dangerously easy to live your life behind a screen. Pick up a camera and walk outside instead.

A barbell. Physical health allows you to do a better job at everything else in life. Pick up a barbell and start lifting each week. Squat. Deadlift. Bench Press. If you’re really ambitious, clean and jerk or snatch. Lifting is the one thing that keeps me sane when life and business get crazy. And besides, who wouldn’t want to be strong and look good?

Google Docs. I basically run my business through Google Docs, but that’s not why I suggest it. I think the biggest benefit is provides is the ability to open a blank document anywhere in the world, start typing, and record your thoughts. Google Docs provides you with the opportunity to write more and that’s a great thing. Writing more forces you to think clearly. Writing more allows you to discover what is important to you. And most importantly, writing more gives you the opportunity to share with others.

Connect with James on Twitter, @James_Clear.

Janine Eccleston – Accounting major

Janine writes at My Pennies, My Thoughts and these are her good things.

Good things to read.

The Power of Habit is an amazing book that tells you why you do things and how we form habits. I learned a lot about myself through reading this book.

The Last Lecture was a lecture given by a professor who was dying of cancer at quite a young age. His last lecture sends a lot of strong messages and was a way for his children to remember him.

The Art of Happiness is a quick read, but it really puts great perspectives on how you view things in your life.

Good things to watch.

Modern Family is a hilarious T.V. show that I keep up on week to week. The family dynamics are incredible and this show always has me laughing. The episodes are short (I wish they were longer) so this makes it easy to keep up with. If you are looking for a good laugh check out the pilot to this show, you will be hooked!

Hungry for Change is a powerful documentary that really gets you thinking about what in fact you are putting in your body. This documentary changed the way I look at food. Definitely worth watching!

Sheryl Sandberg and her TED Talk addresses women in business and more specifically why there are less women in executive roles.

Good things to use.

Yelp! I use Yelp almost daily to look up great places in my city and cities I’m travelling to. Yelp has a great community of people who are dedicated to writing reviews of the good the bad and the ugly.

Runkeeper App. I’m attempting to start running and so far I really like this app because not only does it let you track how far you have run and your time, you can sign up for work out plans that will help you achieve your goals!

A planner. I still use a paper and pen when it comes to planning my life. We are all so caught up in technology it’s a nice break. I love my planner and wouldn’t trade it for the world