There comes a moment in everyone’s lives where we experience a pivotal moment. We get married and start a family. We have a particularly difficult time at work. Our family needs us and we drop everything to be with them. A close friend or family member passes away. These moments, I think, are ones where we really have to stop and examine what we are doing with our lives and make sure that we are really doing what we love and enjoy. It tells us that life is too short and our time is not to be wasted doing things just for a paycheque or because someone tells us to.

When these moments happen to me, I turn to some seminal books in my life that have provided me with personal advice, wisdom and direction and suffice to say, these books have never failed me in providing what I need, when I need it.

Choose yourself by James Altucher

The title says it all. Imagine that you want to publish a book or create a TV show or start your own radio station. You do not have to wait to be chosen any more. Maybe before you did. You had to wait for a publisher to notice your writing and give you a shot. Or a producer to see that you can host or bring something interesting to the masses. With advances in technology and the accessibility of smartphones and mobile devices, you do not need to rely on other people to choose you. You can choose yourself. You can self-publish and keep the majority of the royalties for yourself. You can launch a Youtube channel or a podcast and not have to churn out content that you do not want to because someone pays you to or because someone told you to.

The Joy of Not Working by Ernie Zelinski

While this book seems like it is about retirement, it really is not only about retirement. It is really about what to do when you are not working and how to find things that you really enjoy. Maybe you enjoy not working so much that you actually do that for a living! Why is it important to find things that you really enjoy outside of work? It actually makes your work much more enjoyable (you will bring the passion and energy you have for your hobbies into work). You might even do less work because your hobbies can be ways to get paid. Reading this book has made me re-evaluate the role that money has in my life. Do I really need six, seven or eight figures to live an amazing life? What if I could live off of a low five figure salary and not have to work at all? In a way, this is the four hour work week, but reframed in a different way (from living life rather than from optimizing work).

Becoming an Idea Machine by Claudia Altucher and James Altucher

This is a book and it isn’t. It’s a book that challenges you to think of ten ideas every day on a variety of topics. What kind of topics? Well that’s where this book comes in – each page has a different topic for you to follow and generate ten ideas every day. Why ten ideas? You want to make your brain ‘sweat’. Ideas are the currency of the 21st century and the best thing to do when you are trying to evaluate your options is to first generate many, many ideas and options for what you could do. This book will help you do that.

The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman

Every single day, I read a passage from this book. Each page has a quote or a passage that helps me reflect on life in some way. I am often pleasantly surprised at how useful or timely the passage or quote is in my life and this book helps me realize that there are often things that I cannot control and that I should and need to focus on the things that I can control. I can’t control whether customers like me or not. I can’t control whether I can get people to buy my books. But I can control the amount of work I put in. And I can control how much effort and research and energy I put into creating a book.

The 5 second rule by Mel Robbins

Sorry, this isn’t the rule about food dropping on the floor. Instead, this rule is one that will change your life! Basically, at any point in your life where you are unsure if you should be taking action, count down 5-4-3-2-1 and do it! 5 seconds is just the right amount of time before your brain starts throwing up excuses, rationalizing your way out of something uncomfortable, and your fears really start to cry out loud. If you are considering what to do and don’t really have a good idea of what to do, well, do something uncomfortable to break yourself out of routines.

See you at the top by Zig Ziglar

Rather than trying to do an in-depth review and summary of the notes in See you at the top, I’ll just share one quote that has really helped change my life in these pivotal moments: your attitude, not your aptitude, determines your altitude. If you are positive, happy and optimistic, those exact things will come into your life. If you are negative, sad, angry, life will only throw more things your way to make you more negative, sad or angry. What do you want more in your life?

The Brand You by Tom Peters

This book is more about how you are going to build and develop your brand, but it is certainly a very good book that helps you evaluate what your brand is, whether you want to change it, and what you are going to do to change it. Your brand transcends your company (or at least it should). Your brand is what helps get customers to talk to you, stay with you or even connect with you. The time has come for individuals to be their own companies and your brand is now more important than ever.

You are awesome by Neil Pasricha

No matter what life throws your way, don’t be so hard on yourself. We are often harder on ourselves than others are on us and when life throws you curveballs, you can’t help but knock yourself down a bit. But Neil’s book has a positive message for all of us – we will get through it and we will come out the other side even better than before.

7 strategies for wealth and happiness by Jim Rohn

“Income rarely exceeds personal development.” How are you growing personally? What are you reading? Listening to? Watching? Who are you talking to and learning from? These are all questions that we should be asking ourselves on a regular basis, but most importantly when we are thinking about what we want to really do. Another strategy for wealth and happiness? Surround yourself with successful people. That means finding people that are positive, encouraging and have successful careers themselves that can provide you with the ‘been there, done that’ advice that you may need or that can challenge you to think and dream big.

Discipline equals Freedom by Jocko Willinck

How do you get freedom? How do you get more time in your day and life? Through discipline. Waking up early. Doing the things that you know you have to do without wasting time. Eating healthy (or not eating if you don’t have healthy options). Easier said than done right? Jocko practices what he preaches though. He wakes up every day at 4:30 AM to get in an intense workout. One thing that I really liked was when Jocko was asked why he wakes up at 4:30 AM every day, he says that when he was in the Army, he would often think about the enemy and what they were doing, what they were thinking about, and he was actively looking for ways to work harder than his enemies and be better prepared. In this way, we can all have enemies that we can actively work towards beating (even if they are not actually enemies).

How many books on this list have you read? What do you do when you need to find direction in your life? What resources do you use?