When you’re stuck in a work or career rut, it can be so difficult to pull yourself out if it. Whether it’s time to leave your job or you just need some perspective before making your next move, it can be beneficial to turn to some career and communications experts to get a better sense of what you may need to change internally before making the external switch.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes a bad job is a bad job, no matter how much soul-searching you do. But if you’re having a difficult time identifying what about your job you dislike or how to avoid a repeat pattern at your next post, it can be really important to look inward and do some self-learning before pulling the plug—it may even help you overcome some workplace challenges like working with clashing personalities.
We’ve rounded up 7 work books that can help you gain a little bit of perspective—both for yourself and those around you—to help guide you to take the next step. Whether that’s handing in your resignation or giving you a newfound understanding that the grass isn’t always greener.
How We Work by Leah Weiss
So many books, articles and podcasts herald the idea of quitting your job and the daily grind and pursuing your passion. While life should absolutely be full of passion, this isn’t a reality or a goal for everyone and can feel like a really negative narrative given to those who are still working their way up the ranks, figuring their lives out or a are pursuing careers that require that hustle.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t live in harmony between the grind and being in-tune with yourself. What How We Work proffers is a perspective based on “living your purpose, reclaiming your sanity, and embracing the daily grind.” Using mindfulness Weiss argues that the path to productivity and success is to feel and understand our feelings. She further articulates that understanding (and practicing) the difference between compassion and empathy can be a lifesaver when it comes to pulling yourself out from under the negativity pile and offers advice and scenarios from successful people in the world of business.
Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
I challenge you to find someone who hasn’t tapped into the wisdom of Brené Brown, however there’s a reason that she’s so regarded. Her latest book Dare to Lead challenges readers to understand what leadership means in uncommon terms—and how to cultivate both a life and career where you can lead without coming from a place of fear.
What Dare to Lead offers is advice on embracing vulnerability and understanding that some of the best leaders aren’t those who wield power mercilessly (though we’ve all experienced those bosses), but rather those that understand empathy and connection, constantly ask questions and are always willing to learn from those around them. In a world and career climate where we’re waiting for people to unlearn toxic, dated behaviour, this book will give you the pep talk you need (in a way that only Brené Brown can give) to become the leader that you want to see in your future.
The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin
You might recognize Gretchen Rubin from her book The Happiness Project and Happier podcast, her book The Four Tendencies offers a bit of a different perspective than her previous works. Rubin puts people into four different personality types or tendencies and gives real, digestible advice on how to work, live and coexist with each type, depending on what your tendency is as well.
So often we work with people that we don’t vibe with (and occasionally some we just flat out can’t stand) but understanding how to work with those people can be tough to navigate. While there is a certain threshold to this understanding (and, you know, if this person is just not doing their job correctly or is toxic to the work environment, a larger conversation has to be had with the correct parties), it can be so helpful to understand why your tendency and theirs might not be working under the status quo and how you can do your part to create some harmony in the dynamic.
Darling, You Can’t Do Both by Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk
In the vein of “you do anything, but not everything,” Darling, You Can’t Do Both challenges women to look past all of the things they’re told they can’t do in business—whether that’s having a thriving a career and being a mother, networking, being a nice person and a shark when it comes to business. So many women are told they can’t have it all—and while that “having it all” looks different for each woman and that dream should be taken with a dose of reality (as in, some days your work-life balance is going to be a little more work and a little less life, or vice versa), it’s nice to be given a non-nonsense and practical advice on how to overcome this narrative and change your reality, in your career and beyond.
The Myth of the Nice Girl by Fran Hauser
Nice girls, unite! This short but effective read breaks the stereotypes that so many “nice girls” face when it comes to business and career advancement. In The Myth of the Nice Girl, Hauser argues that you can live in a state of balance between being “nice” and having other qualities, such as being decisive, assertive and ambitious, that are often reserved for those who don’t fall into the “nice” trap.
There are sections on everything from navigating a negotiation, offering feedback (and getting it), standing up to bullies, setting boundaries, making decisions and even crying at work (something some of us know all too well). If you’ve ever been pegged as “nice” (with a bit of a condescending sneer), this is a must-read.
The New Rules of Work by Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew
Career isn’t what it was 20, 10 or even five years ago. With technology changing constantly and so many industries experiencing significant job cuts, it can be difficult to wade through the job market and figure out what you want and what sets you apart.
The founders of the career-minded set The Muse wrote this book, The New Rules of Work, to help you navigate what this new world of work looks like, whether you’re just starting out, looking to make a mid-career change (both in your current industry or a complete shift) and all of the moments in between.
Thrive by Arianna Huffington
It would be irresponsible to write a piece on furthering your career without acknowledging something that sets so many people back: burnout. Career is so important and, for some, a defining piece of our lives, but Huffington argues that success doesn’t have to mean burnout.
Part personal memoir and part life advice, in her book Thrive, Huffington advocates for all of the aspects that make our lives “successful” that go beyond the office or climbing the career ladder. She advocates for all of the aspects that bring “life” to the work-life balance and encourages people to understand that wellness isn’t just another buzzword, but a necessity to living.
(Story by Contributing Editor, Ashley Kowalewski-Pizzi)