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5 Must-Read Books for Renewed Motivation

Nisha Kumar Kulkarni profile image

Nisha Kumar Kulkarni

A woman in a hijab reads a book.

As we move toward the homestretch of 2018, now is the perfect time to find renewed sources of motivation to evaluate, redefine, and pursue your goals.

Here are five motivating reads with inspiring ideas that are compelling enough to start practicing right now.

Simon Sinek’s Start With Why

It’s easy to describe what you are doing, but how clearly can you articulate why you are doing it? This is the basic premise of Simon Sinek’s Start With Why. Using examples like Martin Luther King Jr. and Steve Jobs, Sinek describes the importance of knowing your “why,” “how,” and “what,” and how this knowledge can make you a stronger, more influential leader.

You can think of your “why” as your north star motivation, the constant which demonstrates your values. Knowing what motivates you will help you figure out how and what you can do to enact and live by your values.

For example, your goal may be to work for a nonprofit. But why is this important to you? Perhaps your motivation is to do impactful work in your community. In knowing this, you can then think more strategically about which nonprofits you might want to work for (the “how”) and what to do to enhance your candidacy (the “what”).

Notable quote: “You have to know why you do what you do… If you don’t know why you do what you do, how will anyone else?”

Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map

In such an achievement-oriented world, Danielle LaPorte’s thesis can feel like a bombshell: we’re not chasing goals themselves; we’re chasing the feelings we believe goal achievement will give us.

The Desire Map is a guide and workbook to help you identify and understand your core desired feelings (CDGs) so that you can set intentional goals and make fulfilling decisions accordingly.

One of LaPorte’s most powerful insights is that knowing your CDGs will also help you find gratification outside of simply chasing your goals. For example, if one of your CDGs is generosity, you can honor that in different ways:

  • Making a monthly charitable donation
  • Volunteering
  • Treating a friend to lunch

Notable quote: “Small, deliberate actions inspired by your true desires create a life you love.”

Ed Catmull’s Creativity, Inc. 

Pixar Animation Studios is ranked among the best in business when it comes to delivering creativity, authenticity, and storytelling. But what does it really take to make something great? In Creativity, Inc., Ed Catmull offers readers a behind-the-scenes look at what makes Pixar tick. 

Catmull discusses the importance of an open, collaborative, and experimental environment. He highlights the struggles and failures that even the most successful and innovative people must work through in order to create real value. His stories and insights are relevant for anyone who wants to tap into the very best of our ideas and capabilities.

Notable quote: “Paying attention to the present moment without letting your thoughts and ideas about the past and the future get in the way is essential. Why? Because it makes room for the views of others. It allows us to begin to trust them—and, more important, to hear them. It makes us willing to experiment, and it makes it safe to try something that may fail.”

Brene Brown’s Rising Strong

In Rising Strong, Brene Brown, a shame and vulnerability researcher, digs deeper into her subject matter to investigate how we can “lean into” the discomfort of different challenges and live more wholehearted lives.

Brown maps out the Rising Strong Process to help us through our struggles. The process involves:

  • The Reckoning, or acknowledging our feelings about our struggle and how they affect our thoughts
  • The Rumble, or recognizing the stories we’re telling ourselves about our struggle and separating fact from fiction
  • The Revolution, or learning from our Rumble to change the way we work through and overcome our struggle. Brown posits that if we apply this process to any struggle we’re facing, we can develop greater grit, resilience, and perseverance.

Notable quote: “If you don’t put value on your work, no one is going to do that for you.”

Todd Henry’s Die Empty

What does it take to be and do your best? This is the question at the center of Todd Henry's book. This isn’t a book about exhausting yourself with to-do lists or routines; on the contrary, it’s about making sure you do your best work every day.

Henry focuses on creating the right conditions to do your best, both personally and professionally. He’s most interested in the contributions you can make to the world and strongly believes that it is our best work that allows us to make our biggest positive impact on society. With a high-level of self-awareness, curiosity, and gumption, you can make sure you do work that matters.

Notable quote: “The most fulfilled people I’ve encountered in the marketplace approach their work, in any context, with the question ‘What can I add?’ rather than ‘What can I get?’ They choose worthy battles, then engage in them with everything they have.”

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Nisha Kumar Kulkarni profile image

Nisha Kumar Kulkarni

Nisha Kumar Kulkarni is a writer and creative coach in New York City. She helps women living with chronic illness and mental health challenges to pursue their passion projects without compromising their health.

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