Good Reads for a Better You
Good Reads for a Better You

Coaching people toward achieving their goals is part of my job — and a passion of mine. So in this season of fresh starts and New Year’s resolutions, it seems fitting to put that passion to work for you.

With that in mind, here are a few of my favorite resources to help you increase your work and life satisfaction in the year ahead.

Refreshing Your Career

If your career needs a jump start in the coming year, check out this Forbes interview with Jenny Blake, entrepreneur, author and former career development program manager at Google, called How to Pivot Your Way to Your Dream Career.

In this interview, Blake encourages focusing more on your strengths than weaknesses, especially when moving toward a career change. She shares practical advice for making a move, while examples from her own career powerfully demonstrate the concepts she advocates.

If you experience uncertainty and are risk-averse when contemplating career changes, Blake’s concept of pivoting can give you a framework for less stressful, more incremental changes leading to greater satisfaction at work. For more on this topic, I’d also recommend checking out her book Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One.

Managing Your Emotions

Just published in 2016 is Susan David’s book Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life. Here, David uses a science-based approach that helps you navigate your thoughts, feelings and self-talk for ultimate success both at work and in your personal life.

I like her emphasis on developing the critical skill of being in charge of your actions and not getting “hooked” by negative emotions. If you step back, David points out, you’re more able to see your own role in a situation and take the opportunity presented to deal with what’s happening.

While the author isn’t suggesting we shut down negative emotions (far from it, really), she makes the point that when you get hooked by negative emotions, default behaviors take over. Behaviors such as bottling, where you ignore what’s happening, or brooding, when you dwell on a situation to the point you become paralyzed by indecision and unable to act.

Happily, David offers advice to help you get unhooked, so you can see your emotions for what they are and remember you have choices when it comes to how you act.

Pursuing Happiness

If you’re looking to find more happiness in the new year, I’d recommend Jonathan Fields’ How to Live a Good Life: Soulful Stories, Surprising Science, and Practical Wisdom. This book, a mix of science, spirituality and life-learned lessons, provides a refreshing perspective on finding satisfaction.

Recent research, Fields notes in his book, shows that a large percentage of happiness is genetically based. With this in mind, the author talks about how focusing specifically on trying to make yourself happy or force a more positive outlook is often ineffective. But what do you do instead?

Fields recommends thinking of your life as having three buckets: vitality, connection and contribution. He goes on to share a variety of practical ways you can cultivate happiness as a side effect of what you do to fill each of these buckets — activities as simple as giving and getting moving.

Letting Go of Perfectionism

In The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, Brene Brown, research professor at the University of Houston, outlines 10 guideposts on how to engage with the world from a place of worthiness, releasing the stress of overdoing and overworking.

Throughout the book, Brown focuses on self-compassion as an important component of living an emotionally healthy life. She poses questions like, “How do we cultivate the courage, compassion and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough — that we are worthy of love, belonging and joy?” — and shares her insights into the answers.

My favorite guidepost she offers is “letting go of perfectionism” and cultivating self-compassion, which means offering ourselves the same kindness we would give to others rather than being self-critical and judgmental. Instead of focusing on perfection, she advocates “wholehearted living” as a healthier goal.

So there you have it. A list to help you start your new year off right! I hope you find something here that strikes your fancy or comes along at just the right time for your next step in life or at work.

My parting advice for you this year would be this: Aim to strike a balance between acceptance of who you already are and your desire to reach your greatest potential. As the well-known late Carl R. Rogers said, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

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Bonnie Hovel

Guest writer Bonnie Hovel, a licensed social worker, is owner and principal consultant at GroupWyse, an organizational development firm dedicated to helping people find significance in their lives and their work. She provides practical coaching and training to leadership and teams, inspiring and guiding her clients toward achieving their goals.

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