8 Books That Helped Me Chase Big Dreams

Like all great books, each one of these stories came into my life at the right moment. Maybe that's why they're so unforgettable. From a birthday present to a mysterious package on my doorstep to a book falling off the shelf in Joshua Tree, each story jumped out at me both literally and figuratively.

From a birds-eye view, these stories shaped the way I look at the adventure of entrepreneurship by showing me the tools I already have. In different ways, each book gave me a map to find the courage, creativity, permission, wildness, imagination, and resilience to begin the journey of discovering my dreams.

And by helping me navigate the unknown, they taught me to let go and enjoy the process.

If you're looking for permission to chase your dreams, these stories are like treasure maps, giving you clues and tips along the way. With persistence and curiosity, you'll eventually find your way down the path to following big dreams. 

These books are not about "how to start a business". They're better than that.

Instead, they ask questions and dig deep into who YOU are. They reinforce why you're exactly where you need to be to begin the transformation you crave. Lastly, each story underlines how you have everything you need, no nest-egg, partner, or degree required. 

These books are not just about achieving, but about fulfillment. They are not just about strategy, but about honing lifelong tools. 

Some may not be right for you. This is my tonic of wisdom at the moment, a toolkit I return to often when my mind, soul, or inner compass needs a jumpstart. 

 

The one that started it all:

You Are A Badass, Jen Sincero

I was in an airport, on my way to a work meeting, and this blazing yellow book was staring at me. I felt silly picking it up. I felt SUPER self conscious even paging through it. Then I realized, maybe that's my problem, and maybe this book could help me get over it.

It did that and so much more. I've sent this book to a handful of people in the last 2 years. If you need a reminder, "stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life." 

 

Mysteriously arrived on my doorstep and changed my life forever:

Dare Greatly, Brene Brown

This book arrived unannounced and very surprisingly at my door. It took me weeks to discover who sent it. I was going through an especially difficult time in my life, and how my friend knew to send this book still gives me chills. 

From relationships to creativity, Brene Brown unlocks vulnerability, giving you the greatest gift yet- how to live wholeheartedly and courageously. This reframed my perspective on relationships friends, lovers, and coworkers. Better yet, it deepened the relationship I have with myself. I'll reread this one till I'm old and grey.  

 

Spoke to me in a way I didn’t realize I needed:

I am her tribe

I AM HER TRIBE, Danielle Doby

The voice you need to hear, and eventually discover on your own. I've followed Danielle Doby for years. In a sea of instagram overload, her squares of poems and self-love somehow stood out. When she released a book of poetry, it felt refreshing to have a tangible, no-screen-required version of the words I love so much. Simple phrases can kick off entire chapters of reflection in my journal.

She is an unexpected storyteller, but her lived experiences are familiar. They ask a question and prompt reflection. It sits by my bed, and if I don't know where to begin journaling, I pick it up to read an entry. Within minutes, the words flow out.

 

The wisdom my great grandmothers hoped I'd receive: 

Women who run with the wolves

Women Who Run With the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D.

My dear friend Katie gifted me this book on my birthday last year. In a matter of months, it's brimming with notes and underlined words. Many pages earmarked, folded, or soft from all the visits. I read the intro and started crying. I felt seen.

This book is not for everyone. Many people page through it, totally unaffected and not at all moved or interested in the stories. That's ok! But I'd urge anyone who is even a little bit curious about a woman's intuition to read this book.

It holds myths, stories, fairytales, and legends passed down through generations of oral storytellers, gathered and interpreted by Jungian scholar Dr. Estes. She takes us around the globe and into the dark. She weaves in stories of skeletons, the sea, wild dance, and terrifying traps to illuminate how women are wild but taught to be tame.

It's made a profound impact on my life, and it's my favorite storybook, one I hope to pass down.  

 

Can you tell this is the one I found in Joshua Tree?

You are a dream

You Are a Dream, Guillaume Wolf, “Prof. G”

At first, I didn't totally understand this book, which is why I love it. Prof G created this as a workbook to guide you through discovering your creative life and learning to make your dreams come true. If that sounds absurd, well, try it. 

He takes you way outside your comfort zone and at moments, I felt like throwing this book away (I'm glad I didn't). Using mini-workshops and prompts, Prof G breaks down the Creative Dreaming Method, helping you not only imagine what's possible, but showing how to take action.

I'll revisit this book when I feel lost in a creative process or unsure of what to do next. I get something new from it everytime I read it. 

 

Is it even a list of great books if we don’t have:

The alchemist

The Alchemist, Paulo Coehlo

If you don't already know, this book is about following your heart. It's short but unforgettable. In case you need another person telling you to read it... 

 

For the Virgo in me who still considers getting an MBA:

Designing your life

Designing your Life, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

A friend of a friend gave me this book after a quick chat over coffee. Like me, she was starting a business and craved a more detailed guide of how to start. Instead of seeking out the top 10 entrepreneurship titles, she turned to this book. What a brilliant move. 

Designing Your Life is not a 5 year plan. Bill and Dave, two Stanford professors, walk through design thinking, laying out the fundamentals behind how to innovate and build truly original solutions. But instead of products, they zoom out and apply these same methods to your life, providing a syllabus of how to build a joyful, fulfilled, creative, successful life. 

This has been an incredible resource that not only impacts the way I'm charting entrepreneurship, but is a toolkit for how to approach all kinds of problems (and opportunities) in life. 

Because there's a rebel in all of us:

Originals

Originals, Adam Grant

Full disclosure, I'm still reading this one. I'm a huge fan of Malcolm Gladwell and this books echoes that kind of brilliant, concise storytelling. Giving many examples of original thinkers, Adam Grant breaks down their process and uncovers the gems at the heart of those examples. 

Of my many underlined sentences, this one I visited often in 2019 and it's in the first 50 pages, "Many people fail to achieve originality because they generate a few ideas and then obsess about refining them to perfection... our first ideas are often the most conventional --the closest to the default that already exists. It's only after we've ruled out the obvious that we have the greatest freedom to consider the more remote possibilities." 

Originality isn't about being some gifted, next-level genius. It's about not being afraid to get it wrong, often and to think of 25 [enter creative idea] instead of 3.  

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