120 Actionable Ideas From 10 Books I Would Give My Younger Self

(Photo: Unsplash)
(Photo: Unsplash)

I highly recommend you read these books and form your own takes. But if you only have 45 to 90 seconds time blocks, here is a list of the actionable ideas from each book.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

Quiet by Susan Cain

Mindset by Carol Dweck

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal

The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane

Difference by Bernadette Jiwa

The Creator’s Code by Amy Wilkinson


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing By Marie Kondo

  • Visualize your ideal life and ideal living space, then you are in a position to start tidying your space and move closer to your ideal life.
  • A tidy environment is a place where you can access things you truly need and truly love. Do not keep things you do not like so you can do something with them later.
  • The goal of tidying your home is to create a space to improve your body and your mind.
  • Sort through items by evaluating their purpose and usefulness. Ask yourself: “Does this make me happy? What is its purpose?”
  • Letting things go can be therapeutic by removing the settled dust and bringing fresh air into your house.
  • Keep things from your past that bring you joy. Organizing your positive memories can help guide you into your ideal future.
  • Start with the easiest categories, e.g., clothes, books, documents, miscellaneous items, and end with sentimental items. Ask yourself if this item corresponds to your current wants and needs or your vision for your ideal future.
  • Create a simple and appealing visual order when storing and organizing. Visual appearance creates comfort while simplistic storage eliminates the stress of finding stuff.
  • You only need to tidy once to make a lasting impact in your life, because the space will embody your dream lifestyle.
  • Tidying is a long process because you need to show respect and thought process for your belongings. Clarify your relationship to your belongings to gain a more intuitive feeling of what is useful and what is not.
  • Determine the purpose of an item by asking: “Why did I get this thing? When? And How?” Be clear about the purpose and whether it has outlived the purpose.
  • Do not be afraid to discard things. If it is something you have not got the time to use / read / wear, chances are you probably will not miss it when it is gone.
  • Emotionally attached items are difficult, so ask yourself “Does it make you happy when you see it? Do you even see it at all?” If it has been stored away for ages, then it is probably less important to you than you think.


The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are By Brene Brown

  • Choose to be your authentic self, let go of who you think you should be to be who you are.
  • Have courage to be imperfect, to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.
  • Have compassion, be kind to yourself to learn to be kind to others.
  • Embrace vulnerability, what made you vulnerable, made you beautiful. It is the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees.
  • Do not numb the feeling of vulnerability. One cannot selectively numb emotions. If you numb the hard feelings, you also numb joy, gratitude, and happiness.
  • Do not make the uncertain certain. It is a vicious circle of who is right and who is wrong.
  • Perfectionism is not worth pursuing because fundamentally it is a fear of shame. It makes our self-worth dependent on approval from others.
  • Resilience comes from hope, and hope can be practiced and learned. Hope comes from telling yourself where you want to go, recognizing how to get there, and telling yourself you can get there.
  • You will feel happier when you are grateful for the things you have, rather than thinking you do not have enough.
  • You can choose happiness by practicing gratitude instead of feeling happy as a result of external factors.
  • There are no such things as “creative people” and “non creative people”. There are only those who make use of creativity and those who do not.
  • Play and rest are just as important as work. Less play equals depression, and less rest equals exhaustion.
  • In our busy and stressful lives, anxiety will always be there. Understanding its source and taking the time to think about it will allow you to manage anxiety rather than letting it define your life.
  • Find your gifts and talents. Embrace them by incorporating them into your life even if it does not pay the bills. You can make your life much more meaningful by sharing them with the world.
  • Connection is why you are here; it is what gives purpose and meaning.
  • The ability to feel connected is how we are wired.
  • Shame can be easily understood as fear of disconnection, “Am I worthy of connection?” and “I am not _____ enough.”
  • The underpinning of shame is vulnerability, that we allow ourselves to be seen.
  • Blame is a way to discharge pain and discomfort.


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking By Susan Cain

  • Extroverts get energy from external stimuli, while introverts get energy from within.
  • Introverts are highly sensitive due to their intense processing of information. They find deeper conversation topics more stimulating. They are aware of the impact of their behaviors and tend to be reflective with themselves.
  • The main difference is within the brain. Introverts’ brains feel emotions more acutely, notice changes more quickly and react more strongly toward external stimulants.
  • Introverted children thrive in the right environment. Parents should understand why he or she is uncomfortable in situations with large numbers of people and develop their self-confidence gradually and constructively.
  • The Western world prefers extroverts as an ideal temperament. Introverts can and must act like extroverts at times.
  • Companies should recognize the difference between extroverts and introverts and provide flexible working environments and processes to maximize the potential of all of their employees.
  • Leaders that possess extrovert qualities usually are great with making a quick decision. Leaders with introvert qualities usually are great when it is necessary carefully to consider a decision. A truly skilled leader can unite the talents of both.
  • Both introvert and extrovert temperaments can maximize their performance together with understanding the other’s perspective and not misunderstanding.


Mindset: The New Psychology of Success By Carol Dweck

  • Humans have very little control over our bodies’ external features. But we do have control over our intellectual and physical abilities.
  • Our mindset determines whether we believe we can learn and change and grow or not.
  • People with a fixed mindset believe abilities are naturally born and set in stone.
  • Students with a fixed mindset believe they can only do things they have a natural aptitude for. Thus, they are trapped in the judgement of being good or bad at something.
  • People with a growth mindset believe change and development are possible if they try hard enough.
  • Students with a growth mindset seek development, they are freed with the power of “not yet.” “Not yet” gives students greater confidence and gives them a path to the future that creates persistence.
  • To encourage a growth mindset, we need to praise the process that students engage in: their effort, their strategies, their focus, their perseverance, and their improvement.
  • A child’s mindset is strongly influenced by the parents’ mindset. Parents who do not stop learning will set an example to the child to persevere and continue improving.
  • The fixed mindset sees failures as disasters and nothing to be gained from mistakes. So they avoid difficulties and do not try to get better by practicing.
  • To people with a growth mindset, challenges are opportunities to pursue self-determined actions that will lead to self-fulfillment.
  • The more we use our brains to think, the better we think. Anyone can adopt a growth mindset and be on the path to make the impossible possible.


Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead By Sheryl Sandberg

  • Despite tremendous progress from previous generations, we are still far from gender equality.
  • If you(women) do want to stay in the workforce, you have the power to change the status quo and improve gender equality.
  • Stay-at-home mothers can also help improve gender equality by not making working mothers feel guilty and insecure, and vice versa.
  • Women systematically underestimate their own abilities. This lack of confidence holds back career advancement.
  • In general, men attribute their success to themselves, and women attribute it to external factors. This matters because no one gets the promotion if they do not think they deserve their success or they do not grab a seat at an important meeting.
  • Today, there are multiple paths to the top, so be flexible in your route. But the key factor should be: potential for growth.
  • Success and likeability are positively correlated for men, but negatively correlated for women. Thus, women need to navigate the thin line of ambition and likeability.
  • To communicate effectively, first try to see the other person’s perspective, then practice authenticity (being honest) and appropriateness (consider other people’s feelings).
  • The effective way to find a mentor is to excel first, not to find a mentor so you can excel.
  • Mentoring is a reciprocal relationship. The mentor should also gain useful information on top of feeling a sense of pride from the growth of the mentee.
  • Equality is a universal issue, for both workplace and home because it is also about expectations set for the mother that might pull her from her career arc.
  • A supportive partner that commits to equality at home can enhance both careers and set an important example for children’s development.
  • Keep the foot on the pedal at work as much as possible before creating a mental space to plan for a child. Planning and thinking about baby may stagnate career outlook by the time baby arrives.
  • No one can have it all and do everything perfectly at work and at home. Focus on what is important and fulfilling at the moment to create a balance that works for you.


The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make the Most of Them Now By Meg Jay

  • Jobs in your 20s help you build personal assets, e.g., communication skills and problem-solving abilities. Expand your assets with unique experiences and opportunities.
  • About two-thirds of lifetime wage growth occurs in the first 10 years of a career. Lack of career goals in your 20s will shorten that wage growth period to the 30s, when you have less flexibility with family and mortgage obligations.
  • Connect to those outside your inner circle by making yourself relevant to them. Research the person and ask for a clearly defined favor.
  • Realistically, there are only limited options for people in their 20s. That is a good thing because too many options usually make decisions difficult, which leads to no action at all.
  • For the most part, we already know what we really want, we just do not know how to do it. Thus, we respond to that fear by chasing something else.
  • You spend a lot of time in school and university to prepare your future career. But you do not have all that training to prepare for your future lifetime partner. Learn to work on your relationships.
  • A series of low-commitment relationships in your 20s can damage your chance of finding long-term love later due to lack of experience in relationship development.
  • During your 30s is when the pressure is on to marry and start a family. If that is the reason you marry, it often leads to less than perfect matches.
  • Thinking deeper about whom you date in your 20s can be an opportunity to discover the qualities that truly matter to you.
  • The most important quality to consider is whether both of you have a shared vision of life. A couple will be more likely to compromise and bridge their differences if they share the same vision.
  • Your 20s are the time to experiment with new things and accelerate your learning because your brain will never learn new things so quickly again.
  • Low self-esteem and fear of failure are normal in your 20s as the emotional part of your brain is more developed than the rational part. Learn to recognize these emotions and keep them under control.


The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It By Kelly McGonigal

  • “I won’t” is the power to resist temptation when your whole body wants to say yes.
  • Determine the fundamental “I won’t” challenges with this question:which habits are bad for your health, happiness, or career?
  • “I will” is the power to do unpleasant but necessary things for your future betterment.
  • Find the most important “I will” challenges with this question: what things should you stop putting off to improve your life?
  • “I want” is the power to remember what you truly want to resist the present temptations.
  • Set the essential “I want” challenge with this question: what is the long-term goal you should focus on? Which desires are blocking you from pursuing your goal?
  • When your mind is distracted, you will more likely give in to immediate temptations that overshadow your long-term goals.
  • Meditation trains your continuous self-awareness, which helps you realize when you are being distracted and need to refocus.
  • Willpower is an instinct, it is the pause-and-plan response that focuses on the internal conflict between the rational and emotional selves. It slows you down to help control your impulses.
  • Increase your willpower instinct by reducing stresses on your mind and body, such as anger, anxiety, chronic pain, and illness. Meditation, exercise, eating healthily, and quality time with loved ones can all help.
  • Willpower is also a muscle that can be trained. Small and regular willpower challenges can gradually improve your self-control.
  • Stress makes you feel bad about yourself, which motivates you to do something to make you feel better, and that immediate impulse usually leads to something you will later feel bad about.
  • Relieve stress strategically by setting realistic goals at reducing stress-causing issues, because setting too high a goal will frustrate you to simply abandon the effort.
  • When we are too focused on the present moment, we make bad long-term decisions. However, if we can visualize our future self, and think backwards, we can see the consequences that lead to what our future self is, good or bad.
  • Instant gratification in combination with our brain’s reward system make temptations too powerful to resist because they are usually visible. Thus, we underestimate the value of exercising self-control, and regretful decisions follow.
  • Suppression of desires actually makes them stronger. Instead, either devote your energy to the idea that you will do something else, or by observing your desires and imagining them passing by like a cloud.
  • As our social environment can influence us, friends who possess strong willpower can influence our own willpower. Harness the positive influence with friends and family by taking on willpower challenges together.


The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism By Olivia Fox Cabane

  • Charisma is a set of behaviors based on body language that anyone can learn, starting with your mind.
  • Similar to the placebo effect, creating an internal charismatic self will result in expressing charisma through body language.
  • Establish presence by being with the other person completely and listening intently to establish an emotional bond, instead of thinking about something else and being distracted.
  • Being powerful and kind to others is the key combination to establish charisma.
  • Four charisma styles: Focus -lets people know you are fully present. Visionary -inspires people to believe in something. Kindness -makes others feel seen and accepted. Authority -makes others believe you can change their lives.
  • Establishing any one of the four charisma styles depends on your personality, your goals, and the situation.
  • Make a great first impression by paying attention to others, establishing similarities, and sticking to positive subjects.
  • Mental or physical discomfort will be visible in your body language, which affects your charisma. Plan ahead, be aware and adjust accordingly to overcome discomfort.
  • Reduce the impact of negative emotions by dedramatizing — you are not the only one to have experienced it.
  • Overcome the negative thoughts by neutralizing — what your mind perceives is not always accurate about reality.


Difference: The One-Page Method for Reimagining Your Business and Reinventing Your Marketing By Bernadette Jiwa

  • Create the difference by figuring out what people really need. This involves understanding the truth about someone’s problem. The next step is to create and launch a product. This is categorized as empathetic thinking.
  • Communicate with your customers by telling a story that they can connect to. Appeal to them as individuals, not as just a part of the masses.
  • Focus on the principles of your business (strengths and weaknesses) and the market (how you can use the truths of your industry, or change them).
  • Your purpose is what you want to achieve, and the impact you want to have on the world.
  • Understand the truths of your customers’ behavior and desire.
  • Create something that makes a personal connection, which ensures that they perceive the difference, and that they feel good when using your product or service.
  • Your product has to fill a void in people’s lives, not just a gap in the market. Make a real difference for people.


The Creator’s Code: The Six Essential Skills of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs By Amy Wilkinson

  • Entrepreneurs should stay alert and take these approaches: 1) transplant a proven idea from one place and adopt it for another market with a twist 2) design entirely new products in order to address unsolved problems 3) assemble existing elements in inventive ways in order to create a new product.
  • Waiting for that “perfect moment” to act often leads to inaction. Start small and learn to overcome obstacles, so that you can build momentum toward that big moment.
  • Dwelling on the past, as you remember both successes and failures, does not help because it distracts you from focusing on the future. Learn from your past mistakes, put aside your previous successes, and then move on.
  • The faster you can establish the OODA loop, the faster you can update your assumptions so that you are closer to success.
  • Observe (how are people using your product), Orient (analyze and formulate improvement ideas), Decide (form an improvement hypothesis), and Act (implement the hypothesis).
  • Embrace failure by reflecting on any mistakes you make, but don’t give up. Failure itself is not a negative thing or a positive thing. Failure is merely a process so that the next step will be clarified for you, as you have learned from the failure.
  • Keep striving forward after each setback. Resilience will bring you closer to success.
  • Teams with a diverse range of skills means that a team has more resources to develop a breakthrough solution that is more complete, due to different perspectives.
  • Share and help generously, because people will be happy to give back.

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