Learning from others is one of the most important things we can do for our own personal growth. Whether it’s to understand a new business skill, be more mindful in everyday situations, or simply have a quick escape from reality, I’m a huge fan of turning to books to improve myself.
These books below all have had a great impact on me and my mindset, so I created this quick list so you can add them to your own bookshelf!
1) Happier Now: How to Stop Chasing Perfection and Embrace Everyday Moments (Even the Difficult Ones) by Nataly Krogan
I stumbled onto Happier Now while doing my regular Medium article reading, and came across this book in an article about obtaining our goals and still wanting more. So many people think that they will achieve happiness once they finally obtain their big goal at the end of their achievement rainbow, whether that is buying a house, getting their book published, or having a dream wedding.
While all those goals are great things to strive for, a funny thing happens once you achieve them. You get a “burst” of happiness when you first achieve your goal, but over time your new “goal life” just becomes your everyday normal life, and suddenly you are striving after another new goal to hopefully achieve happiness all over again!
Part of this is how we are wired as humans, and I find the entire topic of goals and happiness fascinating. Give the book a read if it sounds interesting to you too (and for bonus reading, one of my favorite articles of all time on the same topic can be found here on Wait But Why.
2) The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
We’ve probably all heard how important it is to save a little each month for retirement, but did you know just how much little actions can add up in the rest of our lives too?
The Compound Effect is the simple yet super important principle that very small but consistent improvements will lead to much bigger results over time.
For example, imagine if you tried to get 1% “better” at something everyday. Where do you think you would be at the end of the year? Thanks to the power of compound math, you would be over 37 times (!!) better after 365 days.
While we don’t always have exact metrics to measure our lives (I have no idea what sending a ‘1% better’ email would look like), what we do know is that by consistently improving, even only a tiny bit each day, can lead to huge improvements over time.
What is one thing you could start doing 1% better tomorrow?
3) Daring Greatly by Brené Brown
It’s hard to be vulnerable, but Daring Greatly perfectly explains why “vulnerability” is actually the key to a happy and productive life!
Brené Brown has become a household name thanks to her amazing TED Talk and Netflix documentary, but it was this book that first put her on the map. She discusses how vulnerability is at the middle of all of our emotions, both positive and negative ones.
However, many people view vulnerability as a weakness when it is actually a strength. You know those super confident people who seem to have all the answers? They are actually being vulnerable by putting themselves out there, and we can all do the same!
If you are looking to make a positive change in your own life, then I highly recommend reading this book and implementing its lessons for yourself!
4) Limitless: How to Ignore Everybody, Carve Your Own Path, and Live Your Best Life by Laura Gassner Otting
I’m always a fan of books that challenge the traditional notions of “success”, and this book did it as well as anything I’ve read in recent memory!
The main focus on Limitless is why many intelligent, dedicated, high performing people eventually feel “stuck”. The secret lies in the fact that most of us are trying to reach a level of success that has been defined by someone else and not ourselves.
This book breaks down what it means to be truly successful, and spoiler alert, it doesn’t involve adding an extra zero to your paycheck!
Instead, Limitless does a great job of helping to create your own definition of success for yourself, and finding success in achieving what is more in line with your own personal values.
It’s a quick read at under 150 pages, so you can knock it out in a day or two. Best of all, there are actionable strategies for you to implement to start creating your own personal definition of success.
Too often we are held back by comparing ourselves to others and their opinions, and this book is a great push to help you define what makes you truly happy!
5) The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama
Now more than ever we are looking for the sunshine, the rays of hope, and small moments of happiness, so who better to turn to than the Dalai Lama himself?
This is one of the books that started the self-help and happiness movement, and there’s a reason why it’s so popular. With relatable examples, stories, and advice, in The Art Of Happiness the Dalai Lama shares how we can overcome anxiety, fear and unhappiness in our everyday lives (which is something I think each and every one of us could use right now!).
We all have a bit more time on our hands, so you can take a look at some of my other favourite books and podcasts that are perfect productive entertainment that will keep you busy for the next week at least!
6) Grit by Angela Duckworth
One of the most important factors that separate successful people from those that are less successful isn’t intelligence, networking, or a college degree, but is instead perseverance.
Grit is a great read that dives deeper into the concept of why perseverance and “grit” are some of the most important attributes for success. I’ve talked about my appreciation for the power that small but consistent progress can have on your own long term success, and Grit does a great job of explaining why this is the case.
People with grit are able to combine their passion with persistence to help them get through the inevitable roadblocks we all face in our everyday lives and businesses, so if you are looking to develop your own grit then be sure to give this one a read!
7) The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Anchor
Most people believe that success leads to happiness, but The Happiness Advantage makes the point that happiness actually comes first, and when we are happier then we are successful!
Shawn Anchor spent 12 years of his life at Harvard between being a student, a proctor, and a lecturer, and saw something interesting during his time there.
Despite students working their entire lives to get accepted into Harvard, 4 out of 5 of them suffered from some form of unhappiness or depression!
Given his unique access to some of the highest achieving people in the world, Anchor started interviewing and following the results of over 1,200 students to find what led to true happiness in life.
He details his findings in this book and does a great job of breaking down why getting that next big promotion or job won’t suddenly make us happy, but feeling positive and happy in life is what ultimately leads to successful breakthroughs!
8) The Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte
The Fire Starter Sessions is filled with actionable exercises to really help you focus on what you should be working on, as well as giving clarity around your true strengths.
One thing I really like about the book is that it does a great job of pushing you to challenge your existing beliefs and makes some strong arguments like “Life balance is a myth” and “Being well rounded is overrated”.
These ideas might sound a bit controversial but the book explains how you can change your thinking to really go after the things you want, and I recommend putting The Fire Starter Sessions on your reading list!
9) Drive by Daniel Pink
We oftenthink we know what motivates us, but most of the time we are surprisingly wrong!
Drive makes some very interesting arguments, and does a great job of explaining why grinding away at a job for a bigger paycheck isn’t the best source of motivation!
Instead of being focused on external results, we should find our motivation internally, such as doing things that let us direct our own lives instead of being told what to do.
If you’ve been finding your motivation lacking a bit, then give this book a read and let me know what you think!
10) The Comparison Cure by Lucy Sheridan
We all know that comparing ourselves to others, especially on social media, isn’t the healthiest life choice, but stopping the habit is much easier said than done.
In The Comparison Cure, Lucy Sheridan outlines real world ways we can stop the comparison cycle to others and focus on ourselves instead, leading a happier life in the process.
I love books about creating new, sustainable habits (Atomic Habits is one of my all-time favorites), and this book does a great job of offering a simple, easy to follow 3 step strategy to help quiet the noise and constant comparisons to others!
11) Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon
Sometimes we all need a little extra boost of motivation for our creativity, whether it is finding that push to keep writing on our blogs or to make a little more progress on that big project we’ve been working on.
Keeping Going outlines 10 simple, actionable steps we can all take to get a little boost for our creativity when we need it.
One of the particular favourites that I’ve experienced time and again is “Demons hate fresh air”, where the simple act of getting off our computers and going for a walk outside has an amazing ability to reset our minds and get those creative juices flowing again!
If you are looking for an easy read with quick, simple steps you can take to boost your own creativity each day then give it a read!
12) The War Of Art by Steven Pressfield
We all face our own internal battles, but as entrepreneurs, it can be hard to remember that everyone is going through their own challenges and struggles and we are not in it alone!
In the War Of Art, Steven Pressfield does a great job of outlining some of the most common obstacles faced by creatives and entrepreneurs and how to overcome them.
In particular, he writes about how we all face “The Resistance” which can easily lead to procrastination instead of moving our dreams forward!
If you’ve ever hit a creative wall (and who hasn’t), then give this short book a read for some actionable strategies you can apply to your own life!
13) Indistractable by Nir Eyal
Have you ever sat down to get some work done, but then your phone pings with a notification, which sends you into a spiral of Wikipediaing all about the history of Scottish Fold cats, only to see that 3 hours have gone by and you are no further along on your work project?
In today’s notification and distraction filled world, it can seem almost impossible to focus. This wonderful book by Nir Eyal aims to take back our focus so we can actually get important things done without being constantly distracted!
Indistractable shares the hidden psychology behind what makes the world today so distracting and how you can stay focused, so if you are looking to spend more time being productive and less time scrolling Instagram then this one is for you!
14) The Confidence Code By Claire Shipman and Katty Kay
Do you ever feel that you lack the confidence or have self doubt in your abilities? And does this hold you back from stepping outside of your comfort zone or taking risks, in your personal and professional life?
If you said yes, you are most certainly not alone!
The Confidence Code combines research in genetics, gender, behavior, and cognition with real life experiences of from Kay and Shipman, as well as other successful women in politics and business.
They go beyond telling women to “lean in” and instead offer inspiration and practical ways to help you adopt a more self assured attitude that society typically celebrates in men!
15) If In Doubt, Wash Your Hair by Anya Hindmarch
If In Doubt, Wash Your Hair by handbag designer and entrepreneur Anya Hindmarch is said to share practical tips and quick fixes, to profound observations about confidence and creativity. Described as an inspiring handbook that will show you how to live a little better – and why sometimes, the answer can be as simple as washing your hair.
I used to live one block from the Anya Hindmarch store in Notting Hill, so I became a big fan of the brand and now have a small collection of clutches and crossbody bags in my wardrobe! So I am excited to read about her entrepreneurial story and advice.
Thank you for reading! I hope that you found this article useful to choose your book. Please let me know your own favourites in the comments so I can give them a read and add them to this list.
If you have questions or want to share your own favourites with the community you can join our private Women’s Blogging Collective community.
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