5 Life-Changing Books to Catapult Your Career

Whether you’re a career-hardened veteran or a fresh face ready to conquer the world, borrowing the wisdom of others will save you from earning your knowledge the old-fashioned way. The school of hard knocks isn’t the only way to win the rat race: these five amazing books will help you become happier and more successful in your career.

The Happiness Advantage (Shawn Achor)

Apparently, we’ve all been doing it backward. We keep trying to find the right job, the right spouse, the right hobby, the right body. And when we find it, we’ll finally be happy. But Achor suggests that’s wrong: we need to find happiness first and the other things will follow. In this book that relies on scientific research, anecdotal storytelling, and corporate wisdom, Achor reveals fundamental life-changing principles, such as how to train our brains to identify possibility, how to prioritize small goals that snowball into larger ones, and how to build a social support network.

Thinking, Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman)

It turns out you can’t always trust your intuition. And not because your intuition needs work–but because some situations call for applying a different kind of thinking. In this book, psychologist Daniel Kahneman explains the differences between fast and slow thinking, and under which conditions to apply each. He walks us through how our brains make choices and why we sometimes get ourselves into trouble.

What I love about this book is that it isn’t about delivering a packaged-up portfolio of specific advice: it’s about how to master your brain to figure out for yourself, in everyday situations, how to make smarter choices.

Start With Why (Simon Sinek)

Have you ever noticed that the world’s greatest leaders, innovators, and culture creators all share something in common? And no, it’s not huge bank accounts, and it’s not (necessarily!) charisma. It has to do with bringing others into their vision not by command–but by creating an environment where others want to participate. In Start with Why, Sinek walks us through the stories of great leaders and indicates how their actions are counter to what we tend to believe about great leaders.

Originals (Adam Grant)

Not everybody can be a visionary genius. But we can all train our brains to think outside the box. In Originals, social scientist Adam Grant explores how visionary thinkers differ from the rest of us–from seemingly innocuous things (like which web browses they use and why) to life-changing tendencies (like the kids who risked everything to found Warby Parker).

Grant’s book is a fascinating read that spans sports, business, and family life. He shows us how to recognize our good ideas and how to nurture their spark–especially in the face of diversity. This is an amazing read for anyone who has ever suffered a modicum of self-doubt. (PS–that’s pretty much all of us.)

The Creative Habit (Twyla Tharp)

Every once in a while, someone will gift me a good that, on the surface, doesn’t seem written for me. But I’ll read it anyway, and it changes my life. This was one of those books.

Seemingly written for creative people, Tharpe’s book is about the discipline of creating. She says that ideas like “writer’s block” and “lack of inspiration” are not reasons not to work–they’re excuses. Being creative is something you work for every day. And the keyword here is “Work.”

If you’re thinking, “Well, that’s not for me. I’m not a writer, dancer, choreographer, painter, whatever”, I’ve got news for you. Almost all of us create. We bring something into the world that wasn’t there before. Even something as mundane as an email is a creation. And if part of your job entails creating something for nothing (pro tip: it does) then understanding how to bring discipline into your acts of creation will change how productive you are, and how satisfied you are with what you create.

Read it. You won’t be sorry.