Shelf-help: 7 Must Read Books for Personal Growth

by Jan 5, 2015

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As an introvert, I have a tendency to get lost in books.

It’s one of my greatest pleasures to spend a couple hours reading.

In fact, during a recent four-day cruise, I read six books cover to cover.

While I’m a huge fan of legal and crime thrillers, I almost always have a self-improvement or career advice book in rotation as well.

I have absorbed a lot of knowledge through books, but I’ve recently realized that I’m not likely to share this knowledge outside of a directed conversation.

And I want to change that.

Because what’s the point of having knowledge if you keep it to yourself?

I believe the trick to most self-help books is timing and personal receptivity, but maybe one of these books will change your life, or at least your perspective.

The Artist’s Way

The Artist’s Way contains a number of activities and insights aimed at getting “unstuck” creatively by letting go… of negative self-talk, of preconceived notions about talent, of excuses for not creating or doing or living my dreams. 

I’m only on week 7 and have already seen incredible results. The quality of my work has increased ten-fold and I’m spending more time than ever living a creative life.
It’s doubtful I would have started this blog without this book, or be participating in a Project 52.

This book was recommended to me multiple-times and I always dismissed it. Ultimately, I’m glad I did, because as mentioned above, I believe receptivity is the key to any self-help book. If I had read The Artist’s Way 5-years ago, I probably would have written it off it a new age, hippy, touchy-feely book. It totally is, but it’s also life altering.

The 4-Hour Workweek

I’ll be honest – Timothy Ferriss strikes me as kind of of dick, and this book sometimes feels like a pyramid marketing scheme. It’s also one of the best resources I’ve come across for setting life goals, defining personal values and reframing my definition of wealth.

I’ve implemented a number of incremental changes from this book during the last 6 months and have seen excellent results in my overall happiness and a reduction in hours worked. I absolutely love my job and have no intentions to quit, but thanks to this book, I will be testing “location-independence” by spending February in Savannah.

In a nutshell, 4HWW is a guide to defining what you want from life, setting clear goals and applying The Pareto Principle to everything that you do. I’ve been revisiting this one as I set my intentions for 2015.

Happy Dreamlining.

I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough”

I have a stage-5 girl crush on Dr. Brene Brown. If you haven’t seen her TED Talks on Vulnerability, watch them now. I’m serious. This book list will be here when you get back.

I am a recovering perfectionist who spent a lot of my life avoiding things out of shame and fear. Brown’s talks, and this book, were turning points in my ability to let things go and believe that I am Enough. I’ve read every one of her books but this one hit me the hardest.
Daring GreatlyShelf-help: 7 Must Read Books for Personal Growth 1 is a great 2nd choice, as it is a culmination of her previous books.

Secrets of Six-Figure Women: Surprising Strategies to Up Your Earnings and Change Your Life

I stumbled on this book during a on trip to Boston a few years ago. I was between jobs at the time, and considering my next steps.

Did I want to be a designer or a product manager?

Did I want to work for a non-profit and serve the greater good, or go corporate and serve my wallet?

This book didn’t answer any of those questions, but instead opened me up to valuing my worth as an employee, changing my attitude about money and helped me realize that I didn’t have to make a choice between doing what I love and making money – I could do both.

I now have a job a love, building a product that serves educators, and am a stones throw away from reaching the income goals I set.

Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman: What Men Know About Success that Women Need to Learn

This book was recommended to me by a highly-successful (male) manager and I feel this should be required reading for any woman that feels undervalued, stalled or confused about their career & any man that works with women. So, umm, basically anyone with a job.

I read this one in conjunction with Secrets of Six-Figure Women and my confidence immediately increased. I still have regular attacks of Impostor Syndrome, but they are shorter lasting since I learned the rules of the (Business) game.

The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice

I read this little gem on a plane, and while geared towards creative professionals, I believe anyone that wants to feel more inspired or less overwhelmed can learn from this book. If you fail to change the oil in your car, would you be surprised if it stops running? What about your creativity? Happiness? Energy? I used to think creative or mental blockers were natural (or because I wasn’t good enough – that’s shame talking), but now I see that my “not feeling it” is usually because I’ve stopped taking care of myself and stopped doing the things that energize me.

I chose to highlight the Accidental Creative because I think it’s a great foundation for reframing views on nurturing ‘natural talents,’ but the authors second book, Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every DayShelf-help: 7 Must Read Books for Personal Growth 2 is arguably more inspiring for me.

After reading this, I’ve started every day by asking “What’s the single most important thing I need to do today to create value?” Try it sometime.

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind

I think I actually read this on the same flight as The Accidental Creative.

I don’t remember where I was going, but clearly that was a great flight. Manage Your Day is a super fast and fun read, with contributions from all sorts of creative and successful people, and is mainly focused on increasing productivity by clarifying priorities and reducing overwhelm.

A theme in my life was “busy” for a very long time, and this book really helped me to start seeing the power of minimizing distractions and doing important things first.

Honorable Mention

  • Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia Mentioned because I pretty much plagiarized the title for my last Blog. I picked up EPL while traveling in Korea and it planted a seed in my mind about the possibility of transforming my life & travel as a lifestyle, as well as piquing my interest in Bali. It only took me six-years to get there.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous I couldn’t very well talk about life changing books without mentioning The Big Book. If you are even remotely concerned you might have a drinking problem, read the first six paragraphs of “More About Alcoholism”. If you relate, well, I have some bad news for you…

What are your most influential books?

I’m learning that everyone has a completely unique set of skills, knowledge and experience and we all view things through different lenses – if you’ve read any of the above, I’d love to hear about your experience.

Need a new book for personal growth? Get your copy of my Ebook where I share top tips on becoming a Six-Figure Freelancer and transforming mindset.


Photo graphic of Books and Code- Personal Growth Books

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Hey, I’m Kate! I’m a designer, digital nomad and founder of Six Figure Freelancers – I love to help talented tech pros start businesses.

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