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5 Books to Accelerate Designing Your Best Life

Where’s the manual for living your best life? Am I right?

I’d like to disclose that I am participating in an Amazon affiliate program to link my recommendations to their website. “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.” 

I’m grateful to anyone who writes a personal development book with the goal of helping others! That being said, it can be difficult to decide which ones to pick up and apply to your life. I’ve gotten discouraged many times hours into a book to discover the content isn’t quite what I was expecting, or I have a difficult time relating it to my life. I have also been fortunate enough to discover content that is pure gold! I’m sharing my top picks and why I love them. I hope it will save you time and allow you to progress more quickly in your journey.

Author tip: A personal development audiobook narrated by the author, is how the message was truly meant to be received. No one is more passionate about the topic, and the delivery of the content, than the person who lived those pages. I’m a huge advocate for audiobooks for this reason, and because with a career and family, who has time to read? If I can’t multi-task (audio book + getting ready, cleaning, walking, etc.), then it doesn’t feel like the best use of my time. I did read a couple of these books below due to a good deal I may have picked up on a physical copy, but it took me longer to fit it in.

P.S. These are in order of my current preference, so #1 is my favorite right now!

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

This book changed my life. That may seem dramatic, but here I am, sitting at my laptop before 5AM, living my dream. Let me give an example of what it will do for you.

Have you ever thought?

  • I should be further long, I’m not where I want to be
  • I’m not good enough
  • I’m not a good wife or mother
  • Tomorrow… I’ll start tomorrow

Let me share two important takeaways from this book:

  • You are not alone!
  • These statements are not true!

My life has gotten more complex over the years (married, moved 800 miles, successful dual careers, started a family, etc.). I began to feel like I couldn’t do it all, or at least do it all well. I sought out to prioritize my family, my job, and leave for myself what was left. However, if you don’t fill up your own cup, you won’t have anything to give anyone else. There is a much, much better, version of that statement, but I’ll let the author tell you about that.

This book helped me face these untruths (she calls them lies, but I’m a little sensitive so I’m going with untruths, ha!). You must be willing to be uncomfortable, because this book challenges the way you’ve been thinking your whole life. Do you know what comes from discomfort? Growth.

If you already love this, she’s coming out with a new book in mere weeks called Girl, Stop ApologizingI can’t wait to listen to it.

There’s also a documentary called Made For More that is available on Amazon. I enjoy following Rachel Hollis on social media as well. I’m so grateful for the impact she’s made on a complete stranger’s life. I truly hope you’ll take this recommendation to heart and be impacted as well.

Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job. Kill It in Your Career. Rock Social Media. By Aliza Licht

Q1: Do you have a personal brand?

A1:  Yes, everyone does.

Q2: Do you know what your brand is?

A2:  If not, you’re not controlling the narrative!

When I realized that I controlled my journey and overall success, this is one of the first books I read. The tone is very, The Devil Wears Prada, which makes it a fun and educational read.

Aliza Licht shares her story of leaving a well-laid path to become a plastic surgeon, to take a sharp left into fashion. Not only did she navigate a new industry but was also an early adopter of social media and the voice behind popular @DKNY PR Girl. I just looked down and I’m not wearing my DKNY PJs right now, BUT my wonderful husband got them for me for Christmas. They remind me to leave my mark!

Today Aliza Licht is a resounding success and bless her for sharing how she got in, got scrappy, and moved up in the industry. She describes how her life changed over the years and that she had to adapt to be successful but not solely focus on her career. The lessons learned are applicable in any industry, although it’s exciting to read out them as they relate to fashion.

I think about my personal brand every day. How do I want to show up, be seen, and leave my mark? How will you leave yours?

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

Have you ever had something to do and forgotten? Or had to remind yourself multiple times? Stressed that you’d forget? Then you forgot it? But then you remembered it? And then you did it, well almost, you got busy?

We don’t have too many things to do in our lives, we just haven’t organized them! When you have the same thought multiple times, your mind is not being used for its intended purpose. Your mind should be clear to have ideas, be creative, and be productive. This book will show you how!

I recommend strongly the audiobook for this read and there’s a lot of great content, and you’ll want to take notes as he’s talking. One of my favorite parts is when he walks you through getting all the clutter in your mind, out! Whether you write the tasks down or use an electronic system, you will have everything important to you in one place. That alone creates such a sense of peace. You no longer need to “remember” specific tasks, you simply need to know and trust your method of collecting them.

Collection is just the first step, of many life changing steps outlined in this book. You’ll learn how to efficiently get through your task list and keep it at a manageable level.

Life Design Example:

I had an 11-hour drive to San Antonio this past May because my sister was graduating from the Air Force basic training (you go girl!). If you’ve read my About Me, you’ll know that I moved 800 miles away from every friend and family member I had in 2015. Dropping the ball on maintaining my relationships was a constant worry. When is the last time I called Dad? How’s Nana?

When I began my journey, I pulled out my “Car List”. These were tasks I could specifically do while I was in the car. I called my Dad, Nana, Papa, best friend, and had the funniest 2-hour chat with my little sister. I made doctor appointments for myself and my daughter. I then listened to an audiobook called The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst (it was okay, not on this list!) I had some quiet reflection time and sang loudly to country music. That trip felt like a vacation for my mind, until I got to San Antonio traffic, YIKES.

This book will make you feel like the CEO of your own life. The kind of CEO that shows up on magazine covers and articles on your social media feed.

Secrets of Six-Figure Women: Surprising Strategies to Up Your Earnings and Change Your Life by Barbara Stanny

Have you ever heard of Imposter Syndrome? I found this book shortly after I accepted a role with earning potential just over $100K. I remember calling my husband on the way home after accepting the offer and saying this can’t be real life.

It didn’t take more than a few minutes for the doubts to start pouring in:

·         Are they over estimating my experience?

·         Did I mislead them about my qualifications?

·         Does this job require 80 hours a week?

·         Does this job require more travel than I thought?

·         Do I even understand the requirements?

·         What if they find out?!

That, my friends, is Imposter Syndrome.

The Secrets of Six-Figure Women is a study of over 150 individuals who earn between $100K and $7M (yes, million!) I had to know what the secrets were, because I wanted to be just like them, so no one realized I didn’t belong.

This book talked me off the ledge. Whether you make six figures yet or not, this book describes that those who earn at that income level are real women like you and I. They have lives outside of work, enjoy family time, and have fulfilling jobs. The book is filled with practical advice and real-life stories of women who have cracked the code on high earning potential.

Many people believe that high income is directly tied to an awful stressful job, no time with your family, no time for yourself, and a lonely existence. That’s simply not true, thank goodness! For a while I thought I couldn’t earn that kind of living because I didn’t want to sacrifice other parts of myself. It took some internal reflection to realize, no one was asking me to sacrifice anything. Those were my own thoughts about how the system had to work.

I’m happy to report that you have much more control than you think!

Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins

Could you dedicate 92 minutes to changing your life?

That’s how long my eBook account tells me it took to listen to this gem by Tony Robbins. I wasn’t sure about using an audiobook credit ($10) on an hour and a half of content, but I have no regrets.

I was all pumped up on personal development the year I read this. I was ready to take charge of my life, ready to shoot for the… hmm… what was I aiming for?

This book gives 3 lessons to unlock your motivation, alter your perception, and live your happiest life. Thank goodness it also has a section on how to identify what you truly want.

If you had no barriers, what would you do? I’ve heard that question a hundred times but can never get to the other side of “no barriers”. How about when it’s phrased, if you had $10 million dollars in the bank, what would you spend your days doing? THAT is what it took for me to get to the other end of the question. Money is my biggest source of stress because… well that is deeply rooted in my childhood and probably best for another post! But you get the point.

This book will help you build the life you want. When he says pause the book and do the work, please do the work. At least promise me you’ll go back and do it! Consuming content is motivating and fun, but life doesn’t change unless you do.

Conclusion and honorable mentions:

I hope you’ve found value in these recommendations. I had a lot of fun going through all the books I’ve read and listened to and really thinking about the ones that moved my life forward. There were a few I wanted to call out below that didn’t make the list but were still good reads.

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Love Your Life, Not Theirs – Rachel Cruze

You Are A Badass – Jen Sincero

What are your favorite development books? Leave them in the comments below or send a message. I’d love to add them to my reading list if I haven’t read them yet.


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