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Summer of Social Distancing Reading Recommendations for Career Inspiration

Books from my shelf

If you are one of our amazing essential workers, you might be working overtime right now. We appreciate all you are doing on the front lines, and my family and I are doing our best to stay home to avoid further exacerbating this pandemic. If you are not an essential worker, you might find that you suddenly have a little more time on your hands since we are encouraged to stick close to home as much as possible. In this post, I am sharing some of my favorite great reads to help you enjoy these upcoming summer days, despite social distancing.

By the way, no one has paid me or encouraged me to post any of these. I am not getting any payment if you click on links or anything like that. These books are purely from my own personal bookshelf. I have scrambled around to collect them while my toddler was running circles around me. That reminds me--please excuse typos.

"If you don't prioritize your life, someone else will." (Greg McKeown)

"We can try to avoid the reality of trade-offs, but we can't escape them." (Greg McKeown)

These are some of my favorite quotes from what has become one of my favorite books of all time. I have it in both the hard copy and audiobook versions. I flip through the hard copy regularly. I listen to the audiobook periodically. It helps me to stay focused on what really matters in both my career and my personal life. I was always the poster child for overcommitment. This book has helped me to focus on what I REALLY want to do in terms of my personal and professional goals so that I can have greater impact rather than scattered efforts. I recommend it to everyone. There are several pages that feature highlighted quotes making the hard copy a nice one to flip through when you need to be re-energized.

I love all of the books in this series! I read the original when I was in college, and it helped to empower me to reach for professional goals that are truly consistent with my own personal values. I have since read the latest two, and I love them all. My favorite part about these books (and also the PBS documentary series by the same name) is that they allow you to hear stories from many different people. For me, learning about the various professional journeys of many different people reassured me that I could trust my own unique path.

While I love them all, my favorite is probably the latest one, Roadmap: The Get-it-Together Guide for Figuring Out What To Do with Your Life (2nd Edition). You can actually get a free chapter of the book here if you sign up for Roadtrip Nation's newsletter at the link. Choosing a favorite of the three is a hard choice, but I like Roadmap because it combines interviews with people who are highly engaged in their work with practical advice and interactive exercises to help you find your own path. It is also just a very visually-appealing book so that's always nice. My second favorite has got to be the original classic, Roadtrip Nation: A Guide to Discovering Your Path in Life (by Nathan Gebhard, Mike Marriner, and Joanne Gordon). It's hard to find now, but you can get a used copy online or at a resale shop. I let a student borrow mine and never got it back, but hopefully they are enjoying it. Finding the Open Road: A Guide to Self-Construction Rather than Mass Production (by Mike Marriner, Brian McAllister, and Nathan Gebhard) is also great but is also a little difficult to find now.

"Worthiness doesn't have prerequisites." (Brené Brown)

"Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we are." (Brené Brown)

It is difficult to sum this book up in a quick statement, but I will say that it is for anyone who has ever felt like they are not good enough. I revisit this book from time to time to get what I like to call a booster shot of courage. You can read the beginning of the book at this link.

"There are two paths in life: should and must. We arrive at this crossroads over and over again. And every day, we get to choose." (Elle Luna)

Okay, I consider this one to be a little more "woo woo" than some of the others on the list, but I like it a lot. If you have something that is persistently nagging at you, something that you are too afraid to do but desperately want to do, some dream that simply will not release its hold on you regardless of how you might try to free yourself from it, then this is the book for you. It is also a visually beautiful book that you can flip through often for inspiration.

7. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (by Elizabeth Gilbert)

"...if you can't learn to travel comfortably alongside your fear, then you'll never be able to go anywhere interesting or do anything interesting." (Elizabeth Gilbert)

"The fact that I am here at all is evidence that I have the right to be here." (Elizabeth Gilbert)

"Passion makes you get divorced and sell all your possessions and shave your head and move to Nepal. Curiosity doesn't ask nearly so much of you.

In fact, curiosity only ever asks one simple question. 'Is there anything you're interested in?'

...It's a clue. It might seem like nothing, but it's a clue. Follow that clue. Trust it. See where curiosity will like you next..." (Elizabeth Gilbert)

This one is also a little more "woo woo," but it is one of my all-time favorite books. I couldn't select just one quote, and I could have included many more. I love this book. I revisit it often. If you are pursuing a field that feels uncertain or if you are unsure about the next step to take or what you want to do, this book is for you.

8. Careers in Family Science (by the National Council on Family Relations)

This is a super practical book for anyone who wants to learn more about preparing for graduate school in the field of family science or for anyone who wants to learn more about becoming a Certified Family Life Educator through the National Council on Family Relations. It also includes brief profiles of professionals in the field at the bachelor-, master-, and doctoral-level. Best of all, it's free if you want only the online version!

Okay, back to juggling working from home with my spouse who is working from home and our toddler who is working hard to make sure we are not working from home. Just kidding. I am thankful we are able to work from home safely. I hope you all are safe and healthy as you read this, too.


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