5 Books Which Helped Me Build the Courage to Take 12 Months Off Work.

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I didn’t make the decision to resign and take a year off work on impulse.

It was 2 years in the making.

During this time, I was often confused, scared and anxious.

Thankfully, I wasn’t alone.

I was able to lean on the wisdom of many others to figure out the why, what and how to keep going forward.

These five books were some of the most important in guiding me towards crucial insights, as well as providing advice and inspiration.

1. Atomic Habits, James Clear

Key take away:

It is our daily routines that make the most impact overtime and help us attain our goals. 

I started practicing “habit stacking”: Start with one habit, then lay on another, until I have a whole routine that triggers when the first action is done.

The benefit of having a habit stack is that these habits become an effortless sequence, freeing up mind space for other things. 

Even 1% every day will make a huge difference!

This is my everyday motto now. 

Get the book from Book Depository here

2. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson

Key takeaway:

Which problems do I want to struggle for everyday?

If you accept that life is suffering and is just going to be more suffering, then the question isn’t about pursuing happiness, but rather pursuing the suffering you can live with.

Sounds pessimistic but in truth I’m a lot happier by accepting that pain is part of life, rather than something to be avoided at all costs.

With that starting point, I’m much more realistic in my expectations and not looking for “greener grass” all the time.

Get the book from Book Depository here

3. Stop Self Sabotage, Judy Ho 

Key takeaway:

How I’m getting in my own way.

This was quite a hard book to read for the many painful self realisations it provoked.

According to the author, the 4 main tendencies for self sabotaging behaviour are:

  1. Low or Shaky Self-Concept 
  2. Internalized Beliefs 
  3. Fear of Change of the Unknown 
  4. Excessive Need for Control 

Here’s an online quiz if you’d like to learn more about your own self-sabotaging tendencies.

She also offers up some useful exercises to gain deeper insights, some of which I’ll share in later posts.

Get the book from Book Depository here

4. The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin

Key takeaway:

A 12 month framework on how to make the best use of my year. 

The framework I’m using for my one year off work almost completely mirrors that proposed by the author.

Having a monthly theme with resolutions appealed very much to the avid lover of to-do lists in me.

I randomly started listening to her audiobook two weeks before resigning, and it was as if the universe had handed me the plan I was seeking.

Get the book from Book Depository here

5. The Courage to be Disliked, Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

Key takeaway:

The reactions of others is not my task.

“Separation of tasks” is a concept that really struck me whilst reading this book.

A task that is ‘mine’ is that which directly impacts my outcome.

For example, school exams impact the future of the student taking them, not the teacher. Yes both are involved and can influence the task, but it is ultimately the student’s task to study for these exams and do his best.

For a long time, I stopped writing about personal things because I was absolutely terrified of readers responding negatively.

It was extremely liberating to recognize that I can offer my writing up, but I cannot make a reader like it. 

I do not write to make you like what I write.

My task is simply to write as honestly as I can. How you respond is your task.

Get the book from Book Depository here

What are some of your favourite books?

I’d love to hear from you.

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