My top reads for personal growth

Would you like to develop yourself?

Do you want to grow as a person?

Do you believe that you have untapped potential and do you want to unlock it?

If you’re anything like me, personal growth (or personal development) is one of the keys to a happy life. Sometimes I wonder whether personal growth is in fact the most important value for me. I don’t think I could be happy without continuous improvement.

Personal growth comes from learning new concepts and then applying those concepts to your life. Theory plus practice. Where do you get the theory from, though?

Here are the books and articles that have made the biggest impact on my personal growth. They are what I recommend you read first if you want to develop yourself.

(But I did not list these in any particular order.)

  • Ernie Zelinski’s The Joy of Not WorkingErnie explains why and how you could be very happy without doing “work” as we traditionally define it. You know how you can’t have a good romantic/sexual relationship unless you are first comfortable being single? The same thing applies to work. Get comfortable not working and you’ll have a much healthier relationship with your work afterwards.
  • Harry Browne’s The Secret of Selling Anything. Harry teaches you what mindset you should have when you sell something. He shows you that selling is an exchange of value, in which both parties get something they want. He explains why you can become good at selling, without stress, simply by paying attention to what other people want. (Note: the book is very male-focused, which I don’t like. The insights remain extraordinarily valuable, though.)
  • J.L. Collins’s Stock Series, or The Simple Path to Wealth. Jim teaches you how to think about money and investing. He explains how anyone can invest simply for the long term and how you can grow wealthy over time by following a simple formula that produces steady (but not flashy) returns. (Money is such an important part of your life. If you’re not good at managing your money, this series or the book is a great place to start your growth journey.)
  • Cal Newport’s Deep Work. Cal explains why the age we live in is so filled with distractions and how those distractions ruin our productivity. Meanwhile, Cal tells us, the world increasingly values people who can focus for long periods of time. Finally, he shows you how to work “deeply”—producing the best work you’re capable of.
  • Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep. Developing yourself requires a healthy body and mind. One sure way to ruin your body and mind is to sleep poorly, or not to sleep enough. Read Why We Sleep and you’ll learn why prioritizing sleep is important for pretty much everything you do.
  • Mark Manson’s Models. In Models, Mark explains to men what makes them attractive to women. That might sound like a narrow focus. Perhaps you are a woman, or you are a man not looking to attract women (not now or not ever). Still, this book is immensely valuable. You see, the crux of Models is that it explains the concept of neediness and why it can be the number one obstacle to getting the results you want. Yes, the book is about dating, but the lessons on neediness apply equally to other domains in life, such as business. 

Read one of these books, then put the theory into practice. You have to do after learning. Without doing, you will not internalize the theory, and you will not grow.

I repeat: read one and then practice. When you can tell that you’ve made progress, move on to the next materials and practice its concepts. Rinse and repeat.

Enjoy the ride.


— Peter

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