My Favorite Books to Help Discover a New Path

Over the last few weeks, I've been trying to gain as many different perspectives on big changes in life as possible. As I start my own company, there's a lot to do.

The five books below have provided a key perspective in this moment of change. I'm sharing here, in case they help inspire you during your own time of transition, whether that's changing jobs or just starting out after graduation...

1. Pivot: The Only Move That Matters is Your Next One by Jenny Blake

Jenny Blake left an amazing job at Google to become a personal career coach (and more). In the eyes of her family, this was a questionable move. One of the great things about this book is that while it's geared to those considering a significant career move, it's applicable to anyone in transition. As Jenny writes, in today's economy...

Careers are not linear, predictable ladders any longer; they are fluid trajectories. No matter our age, life stage, bank account balance, or seniority, we are all being asked to navigate career changes much more frequently than in years past. The average employee tenure in America is just four to five years, and even those roles change dramatically within that time. 


2. The Startup of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha

Continuing the idea of treating your life like a company, Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha share insights from founding LinkedIn. This book is full of ideas on how to treat your life like it's a scrappy company.

...for many people 'twenty years of experience' is really one year of experience repeated twenty times.” 

The book's site also has a ton of resources.


3. Radical Careering: 100 Truths to Jumpstart Your Job, Your Career, and Your Life by Sally Hogshead

When I finished up graduate school at UT-Austin, I stumbled upon this quick read to help me get a handle on what lies ahead. Twelve years later, it's just as inspiring. These are two of my favorite simple truths inside:

# 31: You can be comfortable, or outstanding, but not both
# 67: Mistakes are tuition

4. How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth, Karen Dillon

Is it possible to have incredible success in life and business? Innovator Clayton Christensen and friends have a lot to say on this topic. Their quick read will help readers approach life with a mindset of imagination... answering the question, did I make a difference that mattered?

“In your life, there are going to be constant demands for your time and attention. How are you going to decide which of those demands gets resources? The trap many people fall into is to allocate their time to whoever screams loudest, and their talent to whatever offers them the fastest reward. That’s a dangerous way to build a strategy.” 

5. The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing by Jeff Goins

It's so easy to get stressed out during times of transition. Jeff Goins wants us to slow down during these moments, offering a reminder of how those "down times" are often not down times at all. They are opportunities in disguise.

“Watching a tree grow will likely drive you crazy. It’s a boring process if you stand there, impatiently tapping your foot, waiting for it to do something. But if you step away and come back later, you’ll be surprised to see something beautiful emerge. The fact is the plant is doing something: it’s growing. Just not as quickly as you might like. Our culture has conditioned us to expect instant results and overnight success; this impatience runs so rampant that we dress it up in terms like 'efficiency' and 'productivity.' But really what’s happening is we are conditioning ourselves to get what we want now, all the time. This mindset robs us of the lessons that waiting can teach us, causing us to miss out on the slow but important stuff of life.” 

This article also appears on LinkedIn, where commenters suggested two additions: 

7 Habits of Highly Effective People (especially Chapter 2) 

Designing Your Life

Josh Carlton is the Principal of 500THz, a boutique marketing strategy and research firm that delights in using creativity to solve marketing problems. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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