Five books for better discipline, routine and creating habits

Five books for better discipline, routine and creating habits

I am fascinated by exceptional athletes: how they stay motivated, what makes them tick and particularly how they represent “discipline” and “routine”. Most of them site good habits, and this is a great place to start in furthering your goals.

I want to share a list of the top 5 books that have made an impact upon my discipline and routine.  I’ve purposely not included fitness/training books.  All of the following are more in the inspiration/leadership/motivation department, but will certainly spark some change toward new rituals.


Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit is a fascinating read!  One truth that he constantly highlights is that willpower is like a muscle, exactly like the biceps or quadriceps, and can be strengthened…or can atrophy. Duhigg argues that the key to becoming and staying fit, losing weight, and accomplishing goals is to comprehend how habits work, and utilize that understanding to transform our lives.


Drive by Daniel Pink is a great read to understand where motivation ought to come from.  Here is a quote from the book that sums things up:  “For artists, scientists, inventors, schoolchildren, and the rest of us, intrinsic motivation–the drive to do something because it is interesting, challenging, and absorbing–is essential for high levels of creativity.”  Pink argues that pursuing high levels of performance comes as we delve in and understand the deepest and most profound view of who we are and want to be.


Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption: I’ve hidden this one in the middle.This is the true story of Olympian and POW, Louis Zamperini.If this was fiction, you wouldn’t believe it. It’s not categorized as a motivational book, but it’s incredibly motivating. It’s a book about the human spirit, what people can overcome, and the power of forgiveness.


Jim Collins’ Good to Great is a business classic.  This book bolsters the importance of having Core Values, and a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal). It’s written for business leaders, but the application to individuals is easily accessible and wildly motivating.


I’ve left my favorite for last: The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. The research for this book is rooted in the authors’ work with some of the best athletes in the world over 25 years, helping them to perform under incredible pressure.  In our lives, those times that we function best are when we are fully charged – “physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused, and spiritually aligned.” Loehr and Schwartz write, “To build capacity, we must push beyond our normal limits, training in the same systematic way that elite athletes do” In other words, stress is not to be avoided; rather it is to be pursued and is actually the ingredient to growth.   This book is a life-changer!


By Al Richardson, Personal Trainer at My Viva Plan