If you want to be happier you can follow all the best advice out there — exercising, meditating, investing time in relationships and hobbies — and if you still have to get up every day and go to a job you loathe, joy is going to beyond your reach. Becoming fully self-actualized depends on finding work that’s enjoyable and meaningful to you.
Understanding this truth isn’t hard. Putting it into practice, however, can be maddeningly difficult.
Books can help, insists author , podcaster and career expert Emma Gannon on Five Booksrecently. The site, which is among my all-time favorite sources of book recommendations, has a dead simple premise — leading thinkers suggest five titles in their area of expertise — but the result is anything but basic. The book suggestions are just the starting point for a long, illuminating conversations about the topic under discussion. Gannon’s fascinating interview is no exception.
But for those just looking to get in and out with the book recommendations, here are the titles she prescribes for those desperate for a new career but overwhelmed by what such a change might entail.
1. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin
Gannon recommends this one for anyone who is feeling “overwhelmed and confused,” which, she confesses, is her a lot of the time.
“We are so overwhelmed at the moment with possibility and choice and options. Because the internet has opened our world up so much,” she explains. Godin helps you get “back to basics” and figure out “what do you want to make, why do you want to make it, who do you want to reach, and what is this for?”
2. Artist’s Way: A Course in Discovering and Recovering Your Creative Self by Julia Cameron
Why include a book for artists on a list for folks confused about their careers? Because before you can build a career you love, you have to figure out what you love, and Cameron offers concrete practices that can help with that. “The Artist’s Way is for anyone who thinks: ‘I want to have a side project, but I wonder what that would be.’ It’s a really good starting point to discover what lights you up,” Gannon claims.
3. The Decision Book: Fifty Models for Strategic Thinking by Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschäppeler
Building a career you love will almost certainly involve taking on new projects, trying stuff out, and testing the waters in many different areas. How do you fit that all in to your already busy life without completely losing your mind? Gannon promises this book will help you find the answer. “It’s an amazing book. If you are confused by how to get through the day with your multiple projects, it tells you how to prioritize your day,” she says.
4. How to Not Always Be Working by Marlee Grace
Finding work you love is a huge blessing, but it also presents dangers. One of the biggest is being so passionate you end up working all the time and burning yourself out. This little book blends memoir and practical exercises to help you avoid that fate.
The book “taps into this weird problem we’ve got at the moment. Maybe it’s millennials, maybe it’s everyone, but we feel so guilty when we’re not working,” she explains. “Young people want to be activists; they want to do things for the world. And it feels like there’s a nervous energy around taking time off.” We need to get a handle on that feeling, and this title will help.
5. My Creative (Side) Business: The Insightful Guide to Turning Side Projects into a Full-Time Creative Business by Monika Kanokova
Gannon’s special expertise is how to build your own “portfolio career” out of side hustles or passion projects (or whatever you’d like to call them). This book, which is the result of a Kickstarter project, speaks most directly to that subject, digging into the nuts and bolts of how normal, everyday people manage to start their own things.
“What I like about this book is that has lots of interviews with people who have made their side businesses into their main business. They’re not famous people,” Gannon says. “There are so many lessons to be learnt from people who aren’t always shouting about it, or sitting on social media every day. This book has really opened my eyes, and I’ve discovered so many interesting people who do interesting jobs. It’s full of tips.”