Reading List: For When You’re Thinking About Change

By Emma Hickey

Are you considering transitioning to a new job? How about a new career? The mere thought of making such a big change to your life can be overwhelming. Sometimes, it can even lead to feeling out of control in other, if not all, aspects of your life. It can also really exciting! Times of transition are times of promise, and you don’t want to deprive yourself of that. You just have to learn to manage the parts of it that scare you. Luckily, a lot of very smart people have written some pretty great books on the topic. From psychology books, to self help books, memoirs, and everything in between, the reading list below will guide you, inspire you, and educate you on taking control of your life and wading through transitional times. And if you read a few of these books and want to talk through what you learned, discuss in depth how to apply it to your own life, or you need some more guidance than what the books can provide, shoot us a note. Your initial consultation is free and we’d love to talk to you about your career.  

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

When thinking about making a change in your life, it helps to first take stock of what you have—literally. Marie Kondo is an organizing consultant from Japan and in addition to her New York Times bestseller, she also has a television show on Netflix called Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Her organizing approach is called the KonMari method and though there are several aspects to it, it all boils down to a simple question: does it spark joy? She believes when you touch an item that sparks joy, it makes every cell of your body lift up. If it doesn’t spark joy, then when you touch the object every cell of you body feels weighed down. Kondo argues that using her method to declutter your space can completely change your way of thinking. Read this book to learn more about how to choose what you want to keep, rather than choosing what you want to discard. Apply the KonMari method to your home, your car, your desk, or even your job, in order to get a fresh perspective before making any big professional changes.

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay

Clinical psychologist Dr. Meg Jay works primarily with clients in their twenties, and she was motivated to write this book in response to the phrase “30 is the new 20.” Dr. Jay rejects that idea. She believes that the twentysomething years are the most formative in a person’s life and weaves together science and anecdotes from her work with clients to make her case. Whether you’re in your twenties, thirties, forties or fifties, this book will help you understand how the decisions made in your twentysomething years shape the rest of your life. This book will teach you a lot about how the brain develops over time and how many of the choices we make are influenced by the internal rather than the external. It’s important to point out that while this book is informative, it’s also extraordinarily practical and has something of a blind spot when it comes to the squishy, emotional stuff that makes us human.  As long as you keep that in mind as you read, you’ll certainly learn a lot about yourself.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

If Dr. Jay’s work tends to ignore the emotional, then Elizabeth Gilbert’s dives right into it head first. Gilbert’s book is usually categorized in the “Religion & Spirituality” section of the library, but it also contains elements of a self help book and a career guide. She writes about the magic of creativity, the benefits of living a creative life, and how to live a creative life even if you don’t consider yourself an artist. Gilbert may be best known for her blockbuster book Eat, Pray, Love, which is about a spiritual and physical journey she took following her divorce, but Big Magic is about your journey, and it will help guide you through it. The tagline says it all—who doesn’t want to live beyond fear?

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brené Brown

Elizabeth Gilbert writes about her friend Dr. Brené Brown’s creative process, and in Daring Greatly you get to see the result of Brown’s creative struggles. This book is all about the surprise power that comes from vulnerability. Making a big change in our lives can lead some of us to put up our defenses. When we feel like the sky is falling, we cut ourselves off to protect our heads and hearts. You may even be doing that now. Some of us live our whole lives this way. Dr. Brown has a different sort of message: be vulnerable. Dr. Brown’s book explains that vulnerability is not a weakness, it’s a strength core to who we are as humans, and we should lean into it.

She says:

“When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make. Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience.”

This book will help you fight your instincts to be the best you you can be.

The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer

Equal parts kooky and genius, Amanda Palmer is a punk rock cabaret musician, artist, author and professional asker. Asking for help when you need it is a core belief of Palmer’s, and something we all need to be reminded of every now and then. She writes about how asking for help used to be quite difficult for her, but now she asks for help all the time, from all kinds of people, and often develops meaningful relationships from the interactions. While the book ignores the intersection of race, gender and class when it comes to who can and cannot easily ask for help, the message is still a useful one to remember in times of change. It also has an insightful foreword written by none other than Dr. Brené Brown. Check out Palmer’s TED Talk speech on the topic to understand the crux of her belief.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

It’s right there in the title—Cheryl Strayed’s novel is about going from lost to found, and what more could you hope for when making a change in your life? Strayed’s memoir takes a look at her infamous 1,100 mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail through California, Oregon and Washington. For Strayed, this hike was her way of making a change in her life. Her mother passed away, her marriage dissolved, and she’d started using heroin. She used the long, arduous hike to steady herself in the wake of her changed life, and it’s written with the perspective and hindsight of Cheryl nearly 20 years later. You’ll finish reading this book believing that if Cheryl could could find peace at the end of all that change, so can you.

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