For the past year or so, I have been reading a lot more. I’ve always loved to read (I was an English major in college), but I stopped doing as much leisurely reading once I started working (I did a lot of reading for work). I started reading for myself again about a year or two ago, and I’ve been reading with a purpose. As I got closer to turning thirty, I realized there were things about myself that I wanted to change, and I’ve been reading books in an effort to help myself make those changes. I’m sharing a few of those life-changing books with you today because I can’t keep a good thing to myself! These books are making me a better person, and I recommend each and every one of them.
5 Books That Will Change Your Life
On Becoming Fearless by Arianna Huffington
Fear is universal. It touches everyone—but it clearly doesn’t stop everyone.
Fearlessness is not the absence of fear. Rather, it’s the mastery of fear. Courage is the knowledge of what is not to be feared.
I’ve spoken about Arianna Huffington’s book before and how it’s helped me with my own fear problems. This book has challenged me to take a hard look at my fears and determine whether or not I need to be afraid of certain things in the first place. What moves me most about this book is that Arianna Huffington provides her readers with the space to confront our fears and acknowledges that acting in spite of our fears is totally unnatural and takes practice. But she also reminds us over and over again that as women, we must become fearless if we truly want to accomplish the things we’re capable of doing. On Becoming Fearless provides readers with opportunities to practice fearlessness in several different areas of our lives: how we feel about our bodies and inherent physical imperfections, how we pursue love and intimacy, how we approach parenting and how we build our careers.
Arianna Huffington also does a wonderful job of linking a lot of our everyday behaviors to our fears and demonstrates how we may be making ourselves more fearful without even realizing it. A great example is when she links lack of physical activity to increased feelings of fear: “It’s so simple that it’s easy to miss: When we feel strong, when our bodies are healthy, we don’t feel as vulnerable as when we are weak and out of shape. It’s harder to feel fearless when we become breathless climbing up a flight of stairs.” I highly recommend reading this book while journaling so you can write down the things you start to learn about yourself and your fears as you read. If you have any sort of issues with fear and anxiety, and you feel those fear feelings may be holding you back from fulfilling your purpose, you definitely want to read this book.
The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8:00 AM) by Hal Elrod
The good news is that you have the ability to change—or create—anything in your life, starting right now.
When the author of The Miracle Morning was twenty years old, he was involved in a serious accident that gave him a new lease on life. Years later, after a full recovery, he endured an enormous financial setback that sent him into a deep depression. Out of this desperation the idea for the “miracle morning” was born. The idea is that you use your time in the morning to give yourself “intentional, focused and uninterrupted time each day to invest in achieving your most important goals and dreams.” In the book, Hal Elrod teaches you how to use the six Life SAVERS (Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading and Scribing—or Journaling) everyday in order to get the most out of your morning.
In order for you to understand just how life-changing this book has been for me, I have to tell you how I used to wake up each morning. There were days I rushed into work at 10:00 AM after waking up at 8:30 or 9:00 (mind you, I’m supposed to be in work each day at 9:30 the latest). It was so very difficult for me to wake up in the morning. It honestly felt as though I had nothing to wake up for—meaning, my only reason for waking up was so that I could go to work on time, which wasn’t a motivating reason. Every single one of my weekday mornings was rushed and hurried. I started every single day totally frantic and unprepared, and I spent so many hours at work making up for lost time that I was completely spent when I finally made it home, just to start the cycle all over again.
After reading The Miracle Morning, I go through life feeling more determined and more accomplished. I used to struggle to wake up before 9:00 AM. Now I wake up a few minutes to 6:00 AM on my own (as in, I wake up before my alarm goes off). I’m able to spend time with myself each day, focusing on my dreams, meditating and praying, and keeping track of my progress. I get to the office early and leave early, which leaves me more free time to spend on my creative and entrepreneurial goals. I’m starting to incorporate regular exercise into my “miracle morning” (something I could never do before), and the best part is even my husband has been waking up earlier so we can spend some time together before heading out to work each day. All because of one book! I’ve already read it three times, and I’m so amazed by how much I’ve grown personally since.
The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris
‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.
Hands-down, this is the one book that completely changed my mindset and made me believe that I could design my life to be anything I wanted it to be. Before reading The 4-Hour Work Week, I was feeling really trapped in my profession. I believed I had to continue to pursue a career in my field because it’s what I’d gone to school to do and what I’d done for years. I don’t even remember how I found out about this book, but I’m so glad that I did. It has set me on the path to discovering how I want to live the rest of my life and given me the inspiration I need to commit to pursuing entrepreneurship.
Yes, Tim Ferris does outline how to create an automated business (a “muse” as it’s called in the book) that can bring in passive income and allow you to work only four hours a week. But that’s not the part of the book that really excited me. Instead it was example after example of people who were living lives that they had designed for themselves. They weren’t letting life just happen to them—they had decided how they wanted to live, they had eliminated things from their life that kept them from living how they wanted, and they had liberated themselves from the 9-to-5, Monday-through-Friday work week. This book will make you believe that freedom is possible. Once you know it’s possible, the rest is up to you. Anytime I started feeling too comfortable with my job (like when I received a promotion a year and a half ago), I would pick up The 4-Hour Work Week and read it again. It reminded me that I have something bigger in mind for my life than to be tied to a desk from 9-to-5 every Monday through Friday.
Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi
The most important thing is to get to know people as friends, not potential customers.
In other words, the currently of real networking is not greed but generosity.
I started reading Keith Ferrazzi’s book last year because I have introverted tendencies and it’s always been difficult for me to “network.” I spent my first year in New York tucked away in Brooklyn and didn’t really take the time to meet anyone new. Getting out and meeting people is really hard for me because I don’t like to initiate the conversation and I’m not a fan of small talk. I needed help, or my social circle in New York was destined to be made up of Quentin and my grandma! I wanted to meet new people and build meaningful personal and professional relationships, but I didn’t have a clue how to start. I started reading Never Eat Alone because of the title: I thought it was going to teach me how to always have lunch dates. After reading the book, I realized that the title isn’t a promise—it’s a rule. It means whenever you have the opportunity to connect with someone face-to-face, you should take it.
Never Eat Alone is a book about how to grow and manage your social circle in a way that feels genuine (not forced like the networking we may be used to) and improves the lives of the people who become a part of your social circle. This is not a book about “networking” in the classic “Here, take my business card” sense. Instead, this is a book about creating genuine relationships based on generosity. Giving. Connecting. This book has really changed the way I think about what it means to network. I don’t even use that word anymore. Now my goal is to connect with people who I think could be interesting and who are doing interesting things, and find some common ground. Reading Never Eat Alone has allowed me to think of “networking” as nothing more than building meaningful relationships, and that makes it a lot easier to casually talk to strangers at conferences, or reach out to people I don’t know to ask them to be featured on The Feisty House. As a result, I’ve been able to start creating an enriching circle of trusted relationships that are way more meaningful than an address book full of random contacts.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg Mckeown
If an answer isn’t a definite yes, then it should be a no.
I’m only halfway done with Essentialism, and I’ve already started going back and re-reading certain sections (which is what I do when I find a book has been really helpful—I don’t want to forget what I’m learning, so I go back and re-read certain sections over and over until they stick). I started reading Essentialism after my husband suggested it. Because he knows that I am always doing the absolute most! I always have a ton of ideas. I don’t have one to-do list—I have several. I want to do it all, but I have limited time and limited resources, so I get really frustrated when I can’t figure out how to get it all done. My head is constantly spinning out of control. I can’t focus on any one thing because everything is equally important.
In Essentialism, Greg Mckeown helps readers through exercises that get us to the point where we can tell the differences between the essential and the nonessential. The purpose of these exercises is to ensure that we only end up doing those things that are truly essential to our goals and say no to everything else. By saying no to these nonessential tasks and activities, we give ourselves the space to think creatively and concentrate effectively on the things that are truly important to us. So far this book has been helpful for me at work. I just said no to a project that was going to take up a lot of my time and wasn’t essential in order to accomplish the things I already have going on. And I did feel a little guilty at first, but now I’m so happy I said no! Now I have the time to focus on my essential tasks, and because I’m not wasting my time on anything extra, I’m actually able to leave the office by 5:00 PM, giving me more time to pursue my creative endeavors while at home in the evenings.
If you have the time to read five books this year, these are the five I would recommend. They are seriously life-changing. I’ve never been a fan of the “self-help book,” but there is real value in learning from others’ experiences and being inspired by the things they’ve learned. Interested in reading of the books above? Let me know which ones! And if you have other life-changing books you’d like to recommend, please do so in the comments! Let’s help each other grow!
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