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9 Books to Read for Motivation

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If you had told me 2 years ago that at this stage in life I would be on the constant look out for a good self-help book or motivational guide, I would have given you major side-eye and assumed you had confused me with some other Sandy. A year and a half into working for myself, I understand that half the battle is staying motivated enough to call that person, respond to that email and make that pitch. 

I love what I do and getting paid to take photos feels absolutely absurd to me. To do what I love for a living is incredible. Not everyday of work is going out and taking photos though, there are a lot of other components that I occasionally enjoy but definitely don’t love with the fire of a thousand burning suns. Logistics, taxes, emails and pitches are all a really large component of my life as a photographer and occasionally I just don’t want to look at anymore shoot details or at an expense spreadsheet. Every now and again I need a emotional and motivational boost to do the the parts of being a photographer that I sometimes like but definitely don’t love in order to get to the good stuff. 

You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

It all began with this cheerful, yellow book. I was going through a creative slump and a work drought all at the same time. The worse my work drought got the less I motivated I felt to do anything about it or really do anything at all. It was not an awesome time. One day I noticed this book tucked into one of the shelves in my office nook. Apparently, my husband bought it to read at some point and it found me in the perfect moment.

This book is like a pep talk and a kick in the butt all in a little package. It got me out of my funk and moving towards my goals again. 6 months later, I revisited the book and was surprised to find how many of the exercises had a really deep impact on me. At the moment, this is my most frequently gifted book. It can be a little woo-woo at times but it’s totally worth it

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative and Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered by Austin Kleon

If I’m being honest, this is properly the first set of self-help books I ever read a few years ago when I was first becoming a creative. They're sort of cleverly disguised as creative motivation. For years these were my favorite books to gift and I literally keep a few extra copies handy for whenever a friend laments to me about feeling like creative fraud. 

Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling by Micheal Port 

As I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of “YOU CAN DO IT” books, I’ve also started to discover that it’s helpful to read books about running a business, investing, accounting, sales and all the other aspects of running Sandy Noto Photography that don’t involve a camera. Sales has historically not been my cup of tea but I’ve been working to improve because it’s hard to have a business without customers. Anyway, this book has lots of great ideas that felt realistic and approachable and I historically really hated selling. 

Also, it helped me reframe the process of saying no and moving away from difficult clients. I used to jump at any opportunity and occasionally got bogged down in work that I wasn’t always thrilled to be doing. These days, I make sure to work with people, publications and brands that I’m excited about so that I’m always pushing to produce my best work. 

Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield and Janet Switzer 

I had to admit to myself that I was swimming in the deep end of the self-help pool when I decided to chug through this 500+ page behemoth. Written by Jack Canfield, the Chicken Soup for the Soul guy, it’s like every tip and piece of success advice you could ever think of. With any piece of advice, it’s important to be selective with what you take to heart. Considering the number of tips and anecdotes, I wasn’t entirely onboard with every suggestion here but I did revisit a few tips and try out a few of the exercise. 

One of my favorite exercises has been filling up a notebook by writing out my ideal scenarios and days. At first, I felt extremely sheepish but after about 2 weeks I noticed myself consistently feeling much more optimistic about plans, pitches and life in general. 

Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money - That The Poor And Middle Class Do Not! by Robert Kiyosaki

This was another Eli find. It’s one of those classic books that has been around for forever and seems a little cheesy but is actually a pretty good read. I took a wealth management class in college that really helped me understand the importance of wise spending, saving, insurance and the possibility of early retirement if you get most of those things lined up accurately. This book is like that class without the spreadsheets. 

The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by Chip Heath

If you are side-eyeing this whole post, start with this book. It’s more in the realm of pop science. While it’s not particularly motivational, it is really informative and gave me a number of ideas for projects and how I approach certain events in life. Also, there’s a whole section about being unreasonably excessive in order to truly create a moment that I bookmarked to use as justification for the next time I want to run around town with 50 helium filled balloons. 

You are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero

We’ve come full circle to another Jen Sincero book!  This is very similar to You are a Badass but focused on money. After months of trying to nag all my friends to read this, I stumbled across a digital book club that was kicking off with this book. Things have a crazy way of working themselves out. Give this book a try, it'll have you digging through all of your childhood memories of money and reassessing your attitude or perhaps baditude.

Almost fin

Sometimes, life gets really messy and complicated. There have been moments during the past couple of months where I'm plugging away and doing all the right things and suddenly a letter from the IRS arrives (never fun) or my lens decides to give out on me. Things happen that burst my motivation, leave me feeling surly and tempted to hide in bed with Gertie for week. Instead of snapping at the people I love or hiding in bed for day, I take a deep breath, read some words of encouragement for 30 minutes and face the latest crisis calmly. Sometimes your spirit just needs some positive encouragement.