Reconsidering your career? Stuck in a funk? Ready to kickstart your daily routine?
Step into my office.
This year has been full of HUGE transitions for me. Maybe it is for you too.
Whether you’ve decided to beat that bad habit or you’re heading back to grad school (or moving across the country), these books will help streamline your focus. They’re inspiring and thought provoking, and I hope you’ll benefit from them as much as I have.
Confession: I listened to most of these on audiobook (Read earlier confession).
1. Grit by Angela Duckworth
I probably wouldn’t have picked this book up if it hadn’t been available for free at my workplace (what kind of person says no to a free book??). But I’m so glad I did!
This book was both convicting and encouraging.
In Grit, Angela Duckworth debunks the myth that talent is a better predictor of success than effort. She argues that determination, purpose, and endurance are key to achieving long-term success.
In high school, I was successful because I worked hard, not because I was naturally talented in math or chemistry. I was determined to succeed and I was comfortable with failure. But something changed in college. I started thinking that because other students were “naturally smarter” than me, I couldn’t measure up. This book was a much-needed wakeup call. It helped me regain some confidence and perspective I lost in college.
Recommended if you feel a bit lost in your career and you wonder if you have what it takes to achieve your goals. Be warned, there are long passages describing her scientific methods, and some parts are repetitive. Be strong and stick around for the good stuff!
2. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
The Power of Habit is a seriously fascinating book.
I’m a how-to junkie and I’m also fascinated by the way things (and people) work. I love tips for becoming more efficient and productive. I also love the How Stuff Works podcast and the TV show How It’s Made.
If that sounds like you, this is your book.
The Power of Habit explains the brain forms habits and how you can retake control of your own habits. Duhigg also talks about the history of habit science and how habits impact the way we live, work, and make decisions.
I especially enjoyed the sections on habit formation in the workplace and how marketers use the basic principles of habits to influence consumers. I swear I’m not a science junkie (AT ALL), but I still enjoyed this book all the same. (However, I do have a sneaky suspicion I would have had a harder time finishing it if I hadn’t listened on audiobook.)
The only part I didn’t like was the last section covering Angie Bachmann — I thought it was a bit weak, didn’t give any satisfactory conclusions, and wasn’t as interesting as the rest of the book.
Recommended if you want to adjust bad habits, cultivate good habits, and want to be more aware of how your subconscious impacts your decision making.
3. The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron & Suzanne Stabile
I used to love the Myers-Briggs personality test, but I always felt like the half of my results described me, and the other half didn’t.
Then I discovered the Enneagram, and my whole personality-test loving world was shattered … in the best possible way.
The Enneagram described me so perfectly, it was a little creepy. I learned about my basic fears, my unique contribution to the world, and why I react to certain situations the way I do.
If you’re curious about learning more about yourself to improve your relationships, self-doubt, and workplace habits, The Road Back to You is a great place to start. As a primer for the Enneagram, it takes you through all nine personality types and explains how the enneagram works. It also offers plenty of helpful tips for overcoming your core “deadly sin,” learning to interact more productively with others, and using your unique strengths to contribute to the flourishing of others.
Knowing that I’m an Enneagram 6 helped me recognize how fear is always holding me back. For the first time in my life, I realized that most of my unhealthy beliefs, habits, and attitudes are based in fear. This is game-changing stuff.
Recommended if you want to understand yourself better so you can start relating to others better. (Aka: why certain things make you mad, how you can get along with that annoying coworker, and why your parents are so weird.)
4. Liturgy of the Ordinary Tish Harrison Warren
Confession: I find the pressure to “live every day like your last” exhausting and overwhelming.
But in this cultural moment, there’s a pervading idea that your life — filled with the unglamorous tasks of laundry, 9-to-5 jobs, and doctor’s appointments — is being wasted unless you’re doing big, exciting, and audacious things.
If we’re not carpe diem-ing every moment, we must be doing something wrong.
Liturgy of the Ordinary offers a different vision: Although many years of our lives will be spent doing everyday, ordinary tasks, that’s ok.
In fact, it’s during these seemingly unimportant moments that we are forming spiritual (and unspiritual) habits that shape who we are. We are being sanctified through ordinariness.
Warren also points out that Jesus Christ was a humble carpenter for 30 years before He changed the world. If ordinary life was embraced by God Himself, then there must be deep spiritual value in the formative work He is doing in our rhythms and routines.
Recommended if you’re ready to start paying attention to how your habits and routines are molding and shaping you spiritually. Maybe you’re at a place in life where you need to stay planted, grow roots, and purposefully commit to endurance and ordinariness. This book will help you not let that time go to waste.
What books inspire you? Leave a comment and let me know!