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5 Books You Need To Read To Feel Inspired To Go After Your Ambitions

Updated: Aug 3

by Cindy S |


Down in a slump, having self-doubts, and in need of motivation? Here are 5 books that will inspire you and show you no dream is too big. Whoever you are, and whatever your goal is, I hope these stories will fuel you to go further.


1. Inventing Joy: Dare to Build a Brave & Creative Life (304 pages)

Source: ABC News


Inventing Joy is for all the entrepreneurs-wanna-be out there, and all the ladies who ever doubt their abilities to make a mark in this world.


This is the real-life story about a divorced, beaten down mother of two who went on to defy the odds and founded a business empire based around home goods. Joy calls herself ordinary, but her resilience is extraordinary. Being a single mom and a female inventor, people did not treat her seriously. How did she overcome the adversaries? As Joy puts it, to be brave. More often than not, we choose to stay behind our fears, but it would not get us anywhere. I hope Joy’s story will inspire you to gather up your courage and go after your dreams.


Fun Fact: Her story also inspired the 2015 movie Joy starring Jennifer Lawrence.


“It is common for people to start questioning themselves. As a female, I’m going to offer the advice I gave myself: You look at your strengths, you look at your goals, and accept that you are who you are. Be true to that.” - Joy Mangano


I love Joy’s story and message, and it is especially applicable to women. Self-doubt is our biggest enemy, but it does not have to be. Entrepreneurship knows no gender or background. If there is something you want to do, don’t let your past or where you come from become a deterrent and just go for it!


2. Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds (364 pages)

Image: Proper Trends


It is almost always too easy to beat yourself down, to think you are not deserving of any success because of your past. If you have ever wondered about whether you can ever achieve your full potential, this book is for you.


David’s story is an unusual one. He had a nightmarish childhood ⁠— stricken with poverty, prejudice, and physical abuse. He carried these dysfunctions into his adult life until the opportunity to join the military became an olive branch. He had another problem ⁠— he was extremely overweight, of which the number stood at 136kg. Astonishingly, he lost 48kg in 3 months. The book detailed how he became the 36th African-American SEAL and later an elite ultra-marathoner (100km). To him, perhaps the most important part is fighting the demon in his head.


Source: Instagram


“We are all great. No matter if you think you’re dumb, fat, been bullied, we all have greatness. You gotta find the courage. It is going to be hard work, discipline, and non-cognitive skills - dedication, sacrifice - that will set you apart.” - David Goggins


I don’t know about you, but after reading David’s story, I feel like I want to go for a run and pump iron right now.


Of course, not all of us have the same aspiration as David (to become a top athlete and to constantly push himself beyond the limit), but David, just like Joy, is telling us about how hardship in life does not define us. We define our destiny.


I love underdog’s stories too much.


3. On the Shortness of Life (111 pages)


Procrastination often got the best of us. Can we be blamed? It is simply Newton’s First Law — Inertia: an object at rest would like to stay at rest. Being a couch potato is so much easier.


Now, that is why I am including this book.


“On the Shortness of Life” is an essay written by Seneca, chronicling the tale of how we squander time, the most precious resource we have, away. It is a call-to-action book. It is time to drop the things that are stealing your time and preventing you from living to your fullest potential. Whether it is a job you hate or a toxic relationship, remember, the time is ticking and it will never be replenished.


“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it.” - Seneca


I remember reading this book when I was waiting for my friends who were late. Ah, Seneca would have condemned me for allowing people to waste my time like that. Fortunately, it was not time wasted because I had Seneca as my company.


Tips: always have an e-book with you when you are meeting your friends, so that you won’t be wasting time waiting idly for those who are late.


4. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (192 pages)

Image: Books on the 747


You know the saying, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’


In the age of social media, we are constantly being reminded about other people’s success. To be considered successful, you need to get a house, an imported car, a 6-figure income, get married, and have kids all before a certain age. Forbes 30 under 30, anyone? It is downright depressing, but I hope this book can help you see the light.


Part memoir, this book covers 3 key themes: running, writing, and growing old.

Don’t put it off because even if you are not a runner. The truth is, you need the same attitude in completing the marathon called life. In this race, there are no winners or losers, only those who manage to stay the course. You pile in on the effort, bit by bit, day by day. The journey might seem long, but it will be worth it. It does not matter how long it takes for you to finish the race, as long as you stay the course.


Stay the course.


“Of course it was painful, and there were times when, emotionally, I just wanted to chuck it all. But pain seems to be a precondition for this kind of sport. If pain weren't involved, who in the world would ever go to the trouble of taking part in sports like the triathlon or the marathon, which demands such an investment of time and energy? It's precisely because of the pain, and because we want to overcome that pain, that we can get the feeling, through this process, of really being alive—or at least a partial sense of it. Your quality of experience is based not on standards such as time or ranking, but on finally awakening to an awareness of the fluidity within action itself.” - Haruki Murakami


Conciseness is not exactly a Murakami trait, but his strength (or the translator’s) lies in his descriptive prose. In the quote above, he talked about how life isn’t, and shouldn’t be about the ranking. You try your best every day, and you improve a little bit every day. Enjoy the fact that you are in motion. You are progressing daily, and that is what matters. It might be painful, but it is better than getting stuck at the starting line. As long as you keep running, you will always one-up your past self.


5. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (56 pages)


Ending this article with a light-hearted read, but no doubt an inspiring one. While the passage to reaching your dream will not be an easy one, remember that life is a great balancing act. Remember to celebrate the small wins, and to enjoy the voyage. May you never lose the hopeful, starry-eyed kid that resides in all of us.


Congratulations!

Today is your day.

You're off to Great Places!

You're off and away!


Today is your day and the mountain is waiting!


I hope these five books will help you move mountains. This journey called life can be a daunting one, but reading these stories, and reading about those who have come before us can help ease our anxiety. We will face a lot of challenges in life, but as the teaching goes, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” How you deal with the pain matters more than the pain itself.


Reading has been a lifelong hobby of mine. I love how it opens my eyes and shows me the horizon beyond my current life. After getting out of university (yes, you will have more time to read when you leave school!), I have set the target to read 52 books a year. A 52-time-a-year sort of adventure.


You can learn more about the writer on Instagram.

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