Three Books to Hack Your 2021

(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on December 31, 2020. You can find it here.)

hack: a strategy or technique for managing one’s time or activities more efficiently*

“Auld Lang Syne” swells in the background as you sweep the last bits of Christmas into storage, making way for countdowns and confetti. It’s time to break out your fancy glasses and talk about the dreams you plan to turn into goals, pandemic or no pandemic.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a handful of resources tailored to multiply every ounce of energy you put into meeting those goals? A way to get the biggest bang for your buck?

Here are three books that could make 2021 your most fruitful year yet, no matter what resolutions you’ve chosen to conquer.* With a bit of reading on the front end (and some writing throughout), consider your next 365 days hacked. 

What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman

“The all-important guiding principle that underlies all of this … is that we should have a sense of adventure in doing good. That is, we should be radical and risky and creative and abundant in using our effectiveness to make life better for others … This is the most exciting life.”

Never heard of Perman’s work on “Gospel-Driven Productivity?” You’re missing out. He begins with how the cross impacts our time here on earth and then gets practical about building a life on that foundation. You’ll cast vision. You’ll gain flexible structure. You’ll notice hours you never knew you had. Good grief, even your email will get a makeover, all in the name of loving people well. Still on the fence? This book received glowing reviews from Ed Stetzer, Wayne Grudem, and John Piper. It definitely deserves a place at the top of your to-read list. 

Younique: Designing the Life that God Dreamed for You by Will Mancini

“You will never realize the amazing future God has in store for you with merely a general sense of where you are going. Generic is the enemy. Generic is vague, nondescript, commonplace, bland, and boring. But getting dynamically specific and naming the truth about you is a wake-up call. The language you inscribe becomes the alarm clock to an energized day.”

If What’s Best Next serves as the launching pad to get your most important work accomplished, Younique is the fuel of laser focus about exactly what that most important work is. Imagine being able to articulate God’s particular vision for your life in two words. Mancini provides an interactive, gospel-saturated journey through gifting, calling, wiring, and naming, and the result is crystalline clarity about why readers have breath in their lungs. (The North American Mission Board staff are big fans; they’ve started handing out copies like candy.)

A Commonplace Book by you

In case this is an unfamiliar concept, a commonplace book is basically a thinker’s journal, an autobiography of the mind, your own customized set of field notes. The idea is to demolish information overload by gathering every captivating thought, quote, lyric, or story you want to remember into one common place—any notebook will do. Did your personal trainer say something inspiring? Jot it down. How about that profound statement from your favorite podcast? Yep, that too. Revisit entries often, adding and amending as you go. The result will be a compact, one-of-a-kind treasure chest full of wisdom specifically culled to provide fresh perspective as you attack your resolutions in the year ahead. 

*Oxford Languages

*I didn’t include the Bible, though regularly and repeatedly immersing yourself in Scripture would obviously be a game-changer. These resources are meant to complement your personal Bible time rather than replace it.

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