5 Books to Read When Seeking Your Purpose

career mindset purpose Jul 12, 2021
Carol Parker Walsh reading purpose

Over the last 18 months, many of us have engaged in some deep soul-searching. We’ve been examining what matters to us, including the work we’re doing in the world. At times like this, it helps to have someone to help you find the answer to some of these questions. It is even better to have a committed community of support to share their ideas and wisdom and cheer you on. However, there are exceptional resources that can help you perform some of this introspective work in the interim.

There are so many fantastic books out there, and it can be confusing or even overwhelming to find a good one that leads you in the right direction and inform your next steps. With that in mind, I’ve decided to put together a list of just five of my favorites that you can use as a starting place.

5 Books to Read When Seeking Your Purpose in Life and Work

1. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene' Brown

In this book, Brene' teaches us that perfectionism is a trap that hampers success. It's self-destructive and keeps us embracing the truth of who we are and what we can be in the world. When we can free ourselves from this idea of who we should be and embrace who we are, a world of opportunities can open up to us. Now more than ever, we all need to cultivate feelings of self-worth, as well as acceptance and love for ourselves. We can find who we're meant to be and what we're meant to do in the world when we do that.


2. Mindset by Carol Dweck

You may have already read, or at least heard, about this book. Carol Dweck introduced us to fixed and growth mindsets. A fixed mindset believes intelligence is inherent, static, and fixed, and your potential is basically set at birth. This keeps you playing small, failing to reach your potential by just sticking to what you know, avoiding challenges or taking chances, and believing you can't change or improve.  On the other hand, a growth mindset lives in the land of potential. There's a desire for continuous learning and a belief that you can grow and develop over time because your true potential is unknown and unlimited. The book provides some great examples to prove the theory and demonstrate the results of living within either mindset.


3. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

I read this book almost 20 years ago, and over the years, I've re-read it again and again. The personal freedom that can be gained by reading this book is life-changing. When you can learn to honor yourself, focus on managing your thoughts and beliefs, ask for what you need, and agree to always work at your highest level, within your genius, you'll be well on your way to living your purpose.


4. The Seed by Jon Gordon

I'm a big fan of Jon Gordon's books. Each book uses a story or fable to teach key points on life, leadership, dealing with change, and in the case of The Seed, finding your purpose and your passion. While this prospect can seem daunting, this book is designed to help you ask the right questions that will lead you through the process of living your passion and finding your purpose. While the journey isn't easy and can often feel like you're in a maze, if you pay attention to the steps you take along the journey and don't consume yourself with reaching the destination, the truth of what you want to know will absolutely be revealed. 


5. Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken by Mike Robbins

For generations, women have been taught to be calm, quiet, not make a scene, and try to fit in. Whether that message was coming from family, school, or society at large, it's caused so many women to play small and struggle with sharing who they really are with the world. When we fail to honor those pieces of ourselves that authentically represent who we are, it inhibits our ability to find and step into our purpose. This was the focus of my TEDx Talk, Fit v. Belonging. This book helps you to learn to appreciate who you and stop people-pleasing so you can show up powerfully as you are and do the work you're meant to do in the world.


BONUS BOOK: Ain't I a Woman by bell hooks

This powerful book is a must-read for particularly for black women. Titled after Sojourner Truth's famous speech "Ain't I a Woman?" educator bell hooks (and she purposefully spells her name with lower case letters) is one of the first authors to examine the intersection of race and gender on the mental and emotional well-being of black women. She shares how the deleterious effect of intersectionality from and since slavery still impacts the psyche of black women today. A short, but powerful read, this book gives voice and context to the experiences of black women; and when seeking your purpose, it's important to understand this legacy may impact that journey.

Happy reading!

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