Get Your Mind Right: 8 Books to Boost Your Game in the New Year

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s 2018 is coming to a close, I’m getting ready to wrap up the year. Ticking through my final “to do” list, I’m looking forward to putting away my work in exchange for some much-needed R&R. For me, that means sitting quietly by the fire with a good book.

Winter vacation is the perfect time of year to tackle the stack of books you've piled up throughout the year but never seemed to have the time to enjoy. Whether you love diving into a fantasy world of extraordinary characters, traveling back in time to walk alongside influential men and women in history, or learning to be the best possible you through self-help texts, take the time this holiday season to read. You'll be glad you spent that time on yourself.

If you are in search of enthralling reading inspiration to get you ready and set up for success in the New Year, I’ve got you covered. Here are the top eight books I read and enjoyed most this year, and I hope you do, too.

  • 1. Gold: My Autobiography by Nick Skelton
  • I started the year with this entertaining and inspiring story of British show jumper Nick Skelton’s journey so far in life. Throughout the book he openly shared his remarkable highs and lows that convey incredible grit, determination, and drive. I particularly loved the last part of the book in which Nick shares the road to and ways he prepared for the 2016 Olympic Games where he won an individual gold medal.

  • 2. Just Breathe: Mastering Breathwork for Success in Life, Love, Business, and Beyond by Dan Brulé
  • As you might know, breathing exercises can be a great tool to relax on the horse, improve focus, or even to get more energy. In this book, Dan explains how to use your breathing to your advantage. He offers many different breathing techniques for many different situations. Make sure to give his 21-day breathing experiment a go – it works!

    What separates mentally strong riders from the rest of the pack? Here are ten habits you should adopt to help you succeed in the new year.

  • 3. Rafa by Rafael Nadal
  • I read a lot of autobiographies this year and this one was perhaps my favorite. What struck me the most was Rafa’s ability to control his mind as he describes how it is his most powerful weapon on the tennis court. Constantly bringing his mind back from distracting thoughts about the results, being in the present moment, and playing every single shot as best as he can is what separates Rafa apart from his opponents.

  • 4. 10-Minute Toughness: The Mental Training Program for Winning Before the Game Begins by Jason Selk
  • A great read on how to train your brain in just 10 minutes each day. The more we read and learn about strengthening our mental toughness, the stronger we become. A must read for competing riders looking for an edge.

  • 5. Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy by Mo Gawdat
  • I loved listening to this book (this one I got on Audible – a great way to ‘read’ more books when you are on the move). It is a very personal story and yet, Mo has managed to provide a clear roadmap to happiness. One we can all apply is to find that happiness from the inside instead of pursuing it on the outside. (Hint: those ribbons are great but are not what makes you happy in the long run!)

    If you’d like to know how to apply Mo's formula for success on the horse, read this: Five ways to be a happier rider.

  • 6. No Limits: The Will to Succeed by Michael Phelps
  • This is another autobiography I really enjoyed reading, mostly because of Michael’s incredible visualization skills. This book gives a great insight into the mind and life of one of the greatest athletes to ever live. Apply his dedication and discipline to crush your own mental limits.

  • 7. Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
  • Have you always wanted to learn more about how to improve your sleep? This is the book to read. Or, if you’re not a fan of non-fiction books, I'll translate the most important information and ways to sleep better within 21-days in an upcoming blog.

  • 8. Unstoppable: My Life So Far by Maria Sharapova
  • This story about tennis superstar Maria Sharapova was not only a great read, it also provided me with the inspiration behind the first blog series I created this year: “Riding to win vs. chasing perfection”. Maria provides an inside glimpse of her rise to the top of the tennis world and how quickly it can be taken away.

    Don't worry, you aren't the only one splurging on sweet treats. Here's how to ease back into your fitness routine post-holiday.

    Want to learn more but not really into reading books? Make sure to check out my new Master Your Mind Online Mental Training Program. I created this easy, step-by-step program tailored to equestrian riders with video tutorials, audio exercises, and much more, so you can learn the fundamentals of mental toughness training and, importantly, how to put it all into practice!

    I'd love to know what you've been reading. Tell me in the comment section below!

    Feature image of Nick Skelton by Erin Gilmore for NoelleFloyd.com.

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    Written by Annette Paterakis

    Annette Paterakis - The Equestrian Mental Coach - specializes in mental coaching for riders of all levels. She is passionate about working with riders and trainers to help them better understand the mind and reach peak performance. Annette is the author of the book "Keep Calm and Enjoy The Ride", available through Amazon.com. For more information give her website a gander: annettepaterakis.com