Book Buzz: What to Read When You Feel “Stuck.”

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I’ve done a lot that I’m proud of since graduating college. I’ve traveled to 10 countries. I’ve run my own business. I’ve always been self-employed. I have money in savings and no debt. I have great relationships with friends, family, and my man-friend. I have a fantastic dog that just gets me. Despite all this though, the past year or so, I’ve just felt “stuck.” I felt I wasn’t going anywhere (figuratively, professionally) and was lacking any and all motivation to get started on something new. To grow.

Although I loved my job, my city, my family, I felt I needed to leave it. Although I loved working, I felt I needed to stop for a while. Although I knew that I’d be better off financially if I just stayed put, I knew that I needed some sort of change. Something to get me unstuck. No small change would do. This had to be big! Life altering! Now, because I’m unmarried, have no kids, and took the time to plan the whole thing, I sold my business, shipped my things clear across the country to San Diego, and took three months off to travel. It was exactly what I needed to jostle me out of my rut. It didn’t completely “solve” the funk I was in, as I now am waiting on work to start, spending money without making any, and am miles and time zones away from my main support systems, creating new things to be worried about… But it’s gotten me to a place where I feel like I WANT to do more. Motivated to take action. I’ve been so completely inspired by what I’ve been reading and listening to lately, that I feel like I’m being propelled forward into something bigger.

Here are some books (and two podcasts) that may help you if you’re feeling like you’ve been on a merry-go-round that you can’t seem to get off of. (Probably 5 years ago I would have lumped all these into the ‘self-help bullshit’ category, but these totally helped my self, so I have a new, better perspective.) Enjoy!

{Playing Big}

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By Tara Sophia Mohr.

This book was recommended to me by my friend Kara Mohr (no relation) who was basically telling be me stop being scared, stop downplaying my abilities, and to start playing bigger. She’d read it and since I love her and trust her, I read it too. I almost threw this book across the room several times (I didn’t since it was actually an e-book on my iPad) because I was so pissed at myself for being guilty of ALL the behaviors the author mentions that holds us back from our more successful selves. Her chapter on fears, rational and irrational, I loved. This lady hits the nail on the head and does a great job of inspiring you to your own potential. It’s what really got me revved up to have the confidence to present at the conferences that I’ve spoken at so far this year.

Favorite Quote: “You can’t be what you can’t see. We can’t be what we can’t imagine. American women are liberated but not empowered.”

Book photo via.

{Wild}

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By Cheryl Strayed.

I think almost all the women have read this book or seen this movie since it’s been out, but in case you haven’t gotten around to it just yet, you really should. My former client and friend, Shannon recommended this book to me because of my outdoorsy-ness, but I declined it because I get annoyed reading stories of unprepared people “in search of themselves,” who usually end up dying or needing to be rescued because they did several unwise things, a la “Into The Wild” and “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”. I relented though, after hearing so many wonderful reviews. Cheryl was wildly unprepared to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone, but she actually tried to prep. She did her best, given the knowledge she had at that moment in her life… which is really what we’re all doing, right? We are doing the best we can, with what we have. Yes! I loved that she pressed on, even though everything went wrong. I love that she was proactive in finding a solution to all of her life’s difficulties. I love that she basically said “F*** it, I’m going.” AND JUST WENT. You, yourself don’t have to backpack the PCT for 3 months to get through a tough life spot, but you can read this book (from the comfort of your couch, with a glass of wine) and see what it means to do something extraordinary for yourself.

Favorite Quote: “I’m a free spirit who never had the balls to be free.”

Book photo via.

{Lean In}

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By Sheryl Sandberg

Gah. I know this one has been out for a while as well, but if you haven’t read it, get on it. Especially if you’re female and working. Or wish to work. Or will soon be working. The thing I love about this book is that it comes from somebody that works a high level job AND has children as well. There are so many things that women do, and don’t do, that cause us to lack growth in our professional lives. These days, working women are struggling to find a balance between home and family life, find equality in the workplace, or just find their own confidence to be able to get further down their career paths. Sheryl writes a lot about her own successes and failures (as well as others’) that led her to where she is now and it’s done in a way that isn’t condescending, which I appreciate. Even if you don’t aspire to be the CEO of a huge corporation, you may still want to give yourself a little “work boost” and this book will inspire you to make it happen.

Scariest quote: “A 2011 McKinsey report noted that men are promoted based on potential, while women are promoted based on past accomplisments.”

Favorite quote: Don’t leave before you leave. “Anyone lucky enough to have options should keep them open. Don’t enter the workforce already looking for the exit. Don’t put on the brakes. Accelerate. Keep a foot on the gas pedal until a decision must be made. That’s the only way to ensure that when that day comes, there will be a real decision to make.”

Book image via.

{Big Magic}

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By Elizabeth Gilbert

This book is currently in my queue, so I haven’t read it yet, but I’ve started listening to her podcast of the same name and it’s definitely winning the #thingsthataremyjam category. I loved “Eat Pray Love,” “Committed,” and her TED Talk about creativity, so I have no doubt that this book will be worthy of my time and attention. Her first podcast about ‘mom martyrdom’ and using your ‘runway’ to take off was refreshing. I’m excited to start this book later in the week, and listen to the remaining podcasts while Tango and I are walking in the meantime.

Favorite podcast quote on parents who love their jobs: “If you model martyrdom, you will raise martyrs. If you model creativity, you will raise creatives. You are doing the world and your children a disservice if you do not make time for your own creativity.”

{The Broad Experience}

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By Ashley Milne-Tyte

I mentioned this podcast one post back but I feel it’s necessary to mention it again for this topic. I listen to at least one of these episodes per day and it’s helped me feel like I’m back in the swing of things. There are 60+ episodes so far, so no shortage of great content to catch up on while I’m driving or walking Tang. Ashley does such a great job of interviewing the most qualified ladies to speak on the topics of women, the workplace, and success each week. She tackles a lot of subjects women think about often but may not necessarily bring up for discussion. And before you roll your eyes at the sound of  a “feminist” podcast, she also covers issues that men face as well. This podcast is beyond interesting and each episode brings up viewpoints I may not have considered before. The production is great, the content is fantastic, and each episode is around 20 minutes, so you’re not sacrificing time elsewhere. Little tidbits of information each day add up to big feelings of empowerment throughout the week.

Favorite Quote: “Stop fixing women.”

Are there any books you’d add to this list? What inspires you when you’re stuck?

I may have felt stuck this past year

but the little fire inside me just got a little oxygen to fuel it for bigger things.

Stay tuned…

 

 

 

 

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