For someone who complains that I don’t read enough, I didn’t do too badly this year on the personal development front.
A lot of people turn their noses up at personal development books and resources. Many people believe that much of what is written in these “self-help” books is either common sense, hokey, or hogwash. And that’s fine; people are entitled to believe what they want. But for me, personal development is something that I have always felt is really important. And while some of the content from these books certainly is common sense, or perhaps even hokey (I wouldn’t necessarily go so far as to call it hogwash), sometimes the message is presented in such a way that it resonates so deeply in your bones that you can’t help but pay attention, even if you’ve heard the same message a thousand times before.
This past year, I lost my mum to cancer. Sometimes, when you lose control of one aspect of your life, you feel the need to gain control over other aspects of your life. I couldn’t control the cancer, but I could control myself, my actions and my reactions. I could control who I was and who I wanted to be. I think this is why I spent so much time on personal development this year; it was something I could control.
One of the ways I was able to get through so many books last year was by listening to the audiobook versions. I listened to about half of these books on my commutes to and from work last year (my commutes range anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours, each way! So I got a lot of solid audiobook listening done). I also use my Kindle a lot to house all my favourite reads, that way I can easily take them with me wherever I go.
(Pro tip: for the books I really enjoy/find helpful, I buy the ebook for Kindle and use my audible credit each month to buy the audiobook as well – that way I can listen on my commutes, AND I can go back and re-read sections I found important, or do the work required if there is an activity or a prompt in the book).
The following are my top personal development reads from this year*:
*Some of these books were published prior to 2018, I just read them all in 2018).
You Are a Badass – Jen Sincero
Why I liked it: I really enjoyed this book! It’s a great option for people who aren’t really into touchy-feely self-help books. The author takes a really no-nonsense, realistic, and funny approach to her writing, and her advice is broken into 27 bite-sized chapters that are easily digestible. It isn’t really overly deep or thought provoking, but I really liked the prompts she used throughout the book to get the reader using her advice immediately. I found it both entertaining and uplifting, and plan to read it again this year!
You Are a Badass at Making Money – Jen Sincero
Why I liked it: As soon as I had finished You are a badass, I started reading Jen Sincero’s next book: You are a badass at making money. She takes the same candid, conversational approach to her writing, and although there is some overlap between the two, it’s very little, and worth reading again anyway. This book is great for helping people change their mindsets around money. Again, I enjoyed the exercises at the end of each chapter – I’ll update once I’m a self-made millionaire 😉
Girl, Wash Your Face – Rachel Hollis
Why I liked it: I follow Rachel Hollis on social media, which is the primary reason for reading this book. It’s a really, really easy read (i.e. not overly deep or researched – I think I read it in one sitting), but it was inspiring and kept my attention throughout an entire sitting. Each chapter is based on all the lies she has told herself throughout her life (like “I’ll start tomorrow”), which most women can relate to. Each chapter also includes a personal story and some tangible advice, which worked for her.
The 5 Second Rule – Mel Robbins
Why I liked it: I listened to this on audiobook, and loved the author’s narration of the book. Just like Jen Sincero, she comes across as really no-nonsense. The entire book is based on the premise that it takes only 5 seconds to doubt yourself, make excuses or change your mind. The author explains how her 5-second rule can help you stop procrastinating and move past those excuses. I found it really helpful, since I am known for being a procrastinator, and her 5-second rule, although extremely simple, actually really helped me do some of the things I always end up putting off (like getting up when my alarm goes off, or going to the gym, or washing the dishes). I also really enjoyed all the success stories peppered throughout the book – these made the advice more relatable and real.
The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg
Why I liked it: This book was not like most of the others on my list – it is rooted in theory and research, rather than personal opinion and experience. Yet, I still found it to be very accessible because of the author’s storytelling style. There were also lots of interesting examples throughout the book, which helped me understand the theory. Overall, I found it to be very informative and interesting!
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
Why I liked it: This book was another non-touchy-feely kind of self-help book, which is pretty obvious based on the title alone. As someone who has always been a people-pleaser, a perfectionist and perpetually positive person (alliteration anyone???), this book forced me step back and prioritize what was important. I had to get past the author’s somewhat arrogant attitude, but once I did, I was able to appreciate the refreshing perspective on the whole concept of finding happiness. Plus, it was an entertaining read!
Braving the Wilderness – Brené Brown
Why I liked it: This book was different from the rest, in that it was less focused on how to be successful and happy in life, and more focused on how to belong in a world where people are increasingly disconnected and polarized. I didn’t find this one as inspirational, motivational or entertaining as some of the others, but instead, I found it challenged me to think differently and become more a more authentic and vulnerable version of myself. Her research and stories were both interesting and informative, and I plan on reading more of her work in the near future!
High Performance Habits – Brendan Burchard
Why I liked it: I listened to the audiobook version of High Performance Habits (it’s available for FREE on Brendan Burchard’s podcast!), and am planning on getting a physical copy as well because I liked it so much. The author focuses on the six habits everyone should adopt if they want to become high performers in their field. It is full of practical advice, which is based on extensive research, and includes lots of thought-provoking exercises and prompts to help readers get started right away. I found this book to be both practical and inspirational, and will definitely read it again!
What are some of your favourite personal development books? What’s on your list for this year? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!
With love and gratitude,