As the New Year approaches, there’s no better area of life in which to take stock than one’s career. Published just in time for reassessment and reflection are four new books that cover a range of professional concerns, from resettling for a new career to finding deeper fulfillment at work. Whether you’re miserable at your 9-to-5 or just looking to improve your output, these books have something for everyone.
Even skeptics of mindfulness-based techniques and meditation practice will find worthwhile material in Sharon Salzberg’s Real Happiness at Work. Beautifully structured into clear and concisely written chapters on topics like “Balance,” “Resilience” and “Communication and Connection,” Salzberg’s guide moves through various work-related stresses and common scenarios using real life examples and stories, and offers concrete solutions for relieving work-related anxiety and discontent. Using detailed experiences from an impressive array of workers—from CEOs of major organizations, to freelance writers and artists, to waitresses, secretaries and book editors—Real Happiness at Work offers something for everyone. From short suggestions on increasing mindfulness in the office, to clearly laid-out exercises and questions and answers at the end of each chapter, Salzberg has written a short and helpful handbook for anyone looking to re-center themselves in an era where most work and life mantras are, “Go, go, go.”
Richard Koch’s The 80/20 Manager purports to be the solution for those managers, executives and employees overwhelmed by their job and a lack of time, and in many ways it fulfills its lofty promise. The book is a follow-up to Koch’s 1997 bestseller, The 80/20 Principle, which asserts that 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of effort. In a working world where the response to “How are you doing?” is almost universally, “Busy,” The 80/20 Manager offers workable and realistic solutions for managers and employees who want to maximize their time and output without overwhelming themselves. Koch provides numerous paths to becoming an “80/20 Manager,” moving (as he states) from the easier routes to the harder. But readers would do well not to view each section—including instructions on how to be a superconnecting manager, a mentoring manager and a leveraging manager—in isolation, but rather in conjunction. There are lessons to be learned in each chapter, and Koch clearly and efficiently ties his core lessons together at the book’s conclusion.
For anyone who has gone through the experience of losing or searching for a job during the economic downturn, Dwain Schenck’s Reset: How to Beat the Job-Loss Blues and Get Ready for Your Next Act provides a lot of familiar moments. That, at its core, is its greatest strength—having gone through a layoff in 2012, Schenck intertwines his own story with seasoned advice from friends and colleagues on how to go about job-hunting in one of the worst economies in the last 100 years. Reset starts off on strong footing, as Schenck describes his own layoff and his conversations with others about the best ways to go about resetting yourself for the economy and the career ahead of you. His advice on networking, reassessing your career and professional goals and adapting to social media in an increasingly tech-savvy market are also valuable. Toward its conclusion, the book strays into less helpful territory (for instance, while job-searchers may be prone to overeating and taking poor care of themselves, an entire chapter on diet advice seems strangely out of place). Despite these detours, the recently unemployed will find Reset a sympathetic and reassuring pep talk that’s well worth their time.
Future entrepreneurs, or anyone looking to earn a little extra cash doing something they love, will find a lot of worthwhile advice and anecdotal experience in Kimberly Palmer’s The Economy of You. A mother of two with a few side gigs, Palmer lays out in easy-to-read path to starting your own side business or monetizing a hobby. Featuring stories from other entrepreneurs who have made a name for themselves and found success in a wide variety of formats—from selling items on Etsy, to starting their own websites to taking on freelance baking assignments and writing columns—The Economy of You is well written and organized for the novice side-gigger. Replete with “Top Takeaways” at the end of each chapter and a comprehensive workbook to get readers started on their own journey, Palmer’s book provides a great starting point for anyone interested in taking what they love and using it to earn a little (or a lot) of extra cash.