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This past summer, I made a commitment to spend more time on my favorite hobby — reading for pleasure. This may not sound like that big of a deal, but it had been months since I’d picked up a book that wasn’t for research. It had been months since I’d chosen to crack open a novel rather than pick up my smartphone in my free time.

So I went in search of a few options that piqued my interest, eventually landing on a fun fictional series and a couple of personal-development reads. 

During days at our lakeside cabin and quiet periods at home, I immersed myself in the books, losing myself in Rachel Hollis’s Girl, Wash Your Face and listening to the audiobook version of The 5-Second Rule by Mel Robbins. (I subsequently bought and dog-eared my own hardcover copy.)

It felt like an indulgence to give myself this space. But the rewards were much greater than simply allowing myself the time: The takeaways from the personal-development books, especially, were so inspiring that I’ve begun changing some of my own tendencies in ways that are actually sticking and making a difference. 

So in the spirit of “Bright Ideas!” the theme of this issue, I’m sharing a little about each of these must-reads and a few of the mind-shifting highlights I got out of them.

Girl, Wash Your Face is one of those books that reads as if you’re hanging out with your best friend. The founder and CEO of Chic Media, Hollis delves into the lies many women tell themselves about their worth — I’m not good enough, I’ll start tomorrow, I need a hero — with candor and vulnerability. 

She advocates for recognizing the potential in each of us to create the lives we want: “The things you’ve achieved?” she writes. “The big and little stuff that peppers your life and adds flavor, the achievements that have made you who you are — those are all you. . . . Only you have the power to change your life.” 

That’s true for everyone, not just women. How often do we doubt ourselves rather than trust in our strength and hard-earned wisdom?

The 5-Second Rule is about how you change your life. The rule serves as a tool, Robbins notes, for moving yourself toward action in seconds: 5-4-3-2-1. 

She explains that in the five seconds after we first have an urge to do something, we more often than not hesitate and talk ourselves out of it. This happens because doing something — big or small — often means changing something. 

Robbins writes: “Change requires you to do things that are uncertain, scary, or new. Your brain, by design, will not let you do such things. Your brain is afraid of things that feel uncertain, scary, or new, so it will do whatever it can to talk you out of doing those things. . . . That is why you have to act even faster to beat it.” 

She makes the case that the 5-second rule can help you be more productive, more courageous, and more authentic in any area of your life. The prompt has recently helped me speak up more in meetings, make some tough decisions I’d been avoiding, and cut back on mindless snacking. It seems too simple, but it’s surprisingly effective and empowering.  

And that’s the thing: Ideas don’t have to be complicated to be life-changing. They just have to create possibility. Maybe it’s a new technology (see Copia founder Komal Ahmad’s cover story) or a new way of thinking (see “The Way of the Healthy Deviant”). 

Whatever the ideas, we have to be willing to put them out there if we want to see what’s possible — 5-4-3-2-1, go!

Photography by: Sara Rubinstein

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