Following years of career success, Rachel O’Meara hit a wall after taking on a new role at Google. Her relationship with her boyfriend grew stuck, and she began receiving poor reviews at work. Consumed by stress, she took advantage of a sabbatical offering at Google and discovered the importance of a pause button. Though not everyone is in a position to go on sabbatical, O’Meara’s journey is one anyone who’s fallen into a rut or grown overwhelmed can relate to. She provides tools, like breathing exercises and tips for discovering what “lights you up,” that can help you find your own pause button and reconnect with your purpose.
The Algebra of Happiness
Scott Galloway teaches brand strategy at NYU’s Stern School of Business, but his most popular lectures deal with life strategy. In the classroom and YouTube videos garnering millions of views, he offers answers to the big questions: What’s the formula for a life well-lived? How can you have a meaningful career, not just a lucrative one? Is work-life balance possible? What are the elements of a successful relationship? Through a mix of anecdotes and hard-won wisdom about life’s challenges, Galloway’s no-BS insight is brash, funny, and surprisingly moving—a refreshing perspective on our need for both professional success and personal fulfillment.
Gabriel Weinberg and Lauren McCann
Mental models can be a lifesaver. The greatest problem-solvers and decision-makers all rely on a set of frameworks and shortcuts to help them cut through complexity and separate good ideas from bad ones. Skip the dense textbooks and read this fun, illustrated guide to every mental model you can possibly need. They can help you prioritize a to-do list, understand people’s motivations, or get to the root cause of a problem—and most importantly, implement change in your life.
Jeffrey Hull, PhD
Leadership expert Jeffrey Hull opens Flex with reflections on why things may go wrong in life-or-death situations, like on the operating table or in a plane accident. In some cases, hierarchy plays a role: members of the team don’t feel empowered to speak up to the leader, even when they recognize an issue. From there, Hull interweaves real-life stories with practical tips and the latest evidence-based research to show readers what it means to lead in today’s world. Based on his popular classes at Harvard Medical School and NYU, Hull identifies six key elements that leaders in today’s workplace need to succeed, known as F.I.E.R.C.E.: Flexibility, Intentionality, Emotional Intelligence, Realness, Collaboration, and Engagement.
Professor Richard Wiseman
Not only was the moon landing a great scientific achievement for humankind, its success was filled with powerful life lessons in succeeding against the odds. Renowned psychologist Richard Wiseman explores how you can apply the same secrets used in that astronomical success to accomplish your impossible in work and life. The result of intensive research, including interviews with surviving members of the Apollo mission control team, Moonshot delivers eight key lessons on teamwork, leadership, persistence, creativity, and more, shedding new light on the science of success.
Own Your Everyday
Jordan Lee Dooley
With an authentic voice that makes you feel like you’re talking to a close friend, Dooley tackles the scary questions: How do I find my purpose? How do I figure out what to do with my life? There are no easy answers, but Dooley assures readers they aren’t alone, even if they might feel that way scrolling through their social media feeds. With compassion and wisdom, she equips readers to tackle disappointment, perfectionism, comparison, and distraction; identify and eliminate unnecessary stress over an unknown future; and break out of expectations. If you ever feel you need to shift your mindset but don’t know how, this book will help you overcome shame, practice gratitude, and redefine success.
How to See
Thich Nhat Hanh
More and more, experts recommend mindfulness as a way to not only manage stress but to transform your way of thinking, and thus your life. In this pocket-sized how-to book, renowned Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh introduces readers to the essentials of mindfulness practice. Profound and approachable, he teaches the art of looking deeply into our knee-jerk assumptions and runaway thoughts so we can recognize the true meaning of our lives. This easy-to-digest read will help any reader slow down, breathe, and reconnect with themselves.
This novel is less about how to find balance and more a warning about what can go wrong when a company grows too powerful, and the line between work and life is lost. Paxton is a former prison guard who’s reluctantly taken a security job with Cloud, a giant tech company that’s eaten much of the American economy. He never thought he’d work there, much less move into one of the company’s sprawling live-work facilities. Zinnia, meanwhile, never thought she’d be infiltrating the company. But now that she’s undercover, she’s determined to ferret out the company’s darkest secrets.
Maybe we’re approaching this all wrong. In Off Balance, Kelly argues that work-life balance is a myth—that our personal and professional lives are inevitably and irrevocably intertwined. He provides an example: if his wife is home sick, he may be distracted at work—but if he completes a big project, he’ll bring home more energy and be more positive for her. He shares how to cultivate energy for everything we need and want to do, and how to establish and honor our biggest priorities. He argues that a satisfying life, period, is what we should strive for.
With demanding schedules, long commutes, and devices that make it next to impossible to leave work at the office, striving for a work-life balance is more important than ever. Depending on your line of work, there are times when putting in the hours is unavoidable. But when work becomes consuming, it can lead to burnout, damage your physical and mental health, and make you less productive at work, leading to more stress. The World Health Organization has called stress the “health epidemic of the 21st century.”
The good news is there are steps you can take to improve your work-life balance, find more meaning in your work, and take more control of your happiness—or maybe just help you let go a little. We’ve rounded up books that can help.
Featured Image: Sofya Bolotina via Twenty20