The best books to help you get unstuck in your career…and life

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a human Venn diagram who has built a career at the intersection of business, technology, and the arts. A classically-trained musician and theater director, I pivoted from the arts into the world of entrepreneurship and technology after earning my MBA from Harvard and worked as a serial entrepreneur. I’m now on the faculty of Harvard Business School where I'm the course head for the first-year MBA entrepreneurship course, oversee HBS Startup Bootcamp, and coach and mentor students as they figure out what brings them joy. An author and frequent public speaker, my latest book offers a new model for work and life that upends the notion they should have ever been at odds.

I wrote...

The Portfolio Life: How to Future-Proof Your Career, Avoid Burnout, and Build a Life Bigger Than Your Business Card

By Christina Wallace,

Book cover of The Portfolio Life: How to Future-Proof Your Career, Avoid Burnout, and Build a Life Bigger Than Your Business Card

What is my book about?

In The Portfolio Life, Harvard professor, serial entrepreneur, and self-described "human Venn diagram" Christina Wallace adapts tried-and-true practices from entrepreneurs, creatives, and successful freelancers to help you eschew the cult of ambition and experience the freedom of building the flexible, fulfilling, and sustainable life you want. 

Whether you’re sick of being told your worth is inextricably tied to your work, or that setting boundaries and protecting your personal life means you aren’t “all in,” this book will walk you step-by-step through the process of designing a strategy for the long haul. Because you deserve rest, relationships, and a rewarding career—not someday, but today.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of How Will You Measure Your Life?

Christina Wallace Why did I love this book?

Clay Christensen was my mentor for over a decade and I had the honor of first hearing these ideas when I was a student in his HBS class.

His way of applying business frameworks to your personal life completely changed how I thought about investing in and managing my life. That class was so impactful I asked him to repeat it as a lecture for all 900 graduating MBAs that year… and that was so powerful it turned into the most-read article on HBR (ever!), which is how it then became this book.

Trust me: this is where you should start if you’re feeling stuck. Because it turns out that you can’t put together a plan to move forward until you are clear on what “forward” actually means for you. 

By Clayton M. Christensen, James Allworth, Karen Dillon

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked How Will You Measure Your Life? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How do you lead a fulfilling life? That profound question animates this book of inspiration and insight from world-class business strategist and bestselling author of The Innovator's Dilemma, Clayton Christensen.

After beating a heart attack, advanced-stage cancer and a stroke in three successive years, the world-renowned innovation expert and author of one of the best selling and most influential business books of all time - The Innovator's Dilemma - Clayton M. Christensen delivered a short but powerful speech to the Harvard Business School graduating class. He presented a set of personal guidelines that have helped him find meaning and happiness…

Book cover of The Anxious Achiever: Turn Your Biggest Fears into Your Leadership Superpower

Christina Wallace Why did I love this book?

Sometimes we feel stuck not because we don’t know what we care about or how we want to make an impact on the world… but because we haven’t made peace with our own psyche.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness and yet are often ignored in the literature about career choices, work/life balance, leadership, and more. This book is a brilliant blend of research, stories, and practical advice to help you take charge of your mental health.  

By Morra Aarons-Mele,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Anxious Achiever as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A timely and compelling guide to managing the anxiety that comes with succeeding and leading-from entrepreneur, mental health advocate, and top-rated podcaster Morra Aarons-Mele.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the world. But in our workplaces, anxiety has been a hidden problem-there in plain sight but ignored. Until now.

The Anxious Achiever is a book with a mission: to normalize anxiety and leadership. As leadership expert and self-proclaimed anxious achiever Morra Aarons-Mele argues, anxiety is built into the very nature of leadership. It can-and should-be harnessed into a force for good.

Inspired by the popular podcast of…

Book cover of Flux: 8 Superpowers for Thriving in Constant Change

Christina Wallace Why did I love this book?

The only constant you can count on in the world today is change. Yet for most people, change is incredibly uncomfortable at best and downright scary at worst.

Which is why this book by April Rinne is a godsend for navigating change and mitigating uncertainty. These eight mindsets are practical and research-based and offer the scaffolding to help you feel a little more in control as you meet change head-on.

It’s my go-to gift for anyone in transition, whether graduating from college, becoming a parent, considering retirement, or any of the other moments of change that cause us to take stock of our choices and investments and reconsider how we want to move forward from here. 

By April Rinne,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Flux as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Discover eight powerful mindset shifts that enable leaders and seekers of all ages to thrive in a time of unprecedented change and uncertainty.

Being adaptable and flexible have always been hallmarks of effective leadership and a fulfilling life. But in a world of so much—and faster-paced—change, and an ever-faster pace of change, flexibility and resilience can be stretched to their breaking points. The quest becomes how to find calm and lasting meaning in the midst of enduring chaos.
A world in flux calls for a new mindset, one that treats constant change and uncertainty as a feature, not a bug.…

Book cover of The Artist's Way

Christina Wallace Why did I love this book?

I know this probably wasn’t what you were expecting on a list about careers and life but stay with me here: The Artist’s Way is basically the bible for (re)sparking your creativity.

Whether you are a professional creative (musician, writer, graphic designer, etc.) or you insist you “aren’t the creative type” there’s something for you in this book. If nothing else, read the part on “morning pages” for a daily ritual to get your ideas flowing.

I cannot tell you what a difference you’ll see once you have a way to get your fears, your dreams, your ideas, your frustrations, your plans, and so much more out of your head and onto paper where you can decide what to do with them. 

By Julia Cameron,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked The Artist's Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"With its gentle affirmations, inspirational quotes, fill-in-the-blank lists and tasks — write yourself a thank-you letter, describe yourself at 80, for example — The Artist’s Way proposes an egalitarian view of creativity: Everyone’s got it."—The New York Times 
"Morning Pages have become a household name, a shorthand for unlocking your creative potential"—Vogue

Over four million copies sold!

Since its first publication, The Artist's Way phenomena has inspired the genius of Elizabeth Gilbert and millions of readers to embark on a creative journey and find a deeper connection to process and purpose. Julia Cameron's novel approach guides readers in uncovering problems…

Book cover of Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life

Christina Wallace Why did I love this book?

“Design thinking” is a phrase that’s become more common over the last ten years but it’s still mostly the domain of innovation and the startup world.

So when designers Bill Burnett and Dave Evans brought this way of thinking to tackle the question of designing a life of fulfillment and joy, it offered a truly fresh perspective. Experimentation, prototyping, constant iteration. These are the tools that allow you to learn and tinker and adjust as you go, ensuring the only true failure is settling for unhappiness. 

By Bill Burnett, Dave Evans,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Designing Your Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • At last, a book that shows you how to build—design—a life you can thrive in, at any age or stage • “Life has questions. They have answers.” —The New York Times

Designers create worlds and solve problems using design thinking. Look around your office or home—at the tablet or smartphone you may be holding or the chair you are sitting in. Everything in our lives was designed by someone. And every design starts with a problem that a designer or team of designers seeks to solve.

In this book, Bill Burnett and Dave…

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Free Your Joy: The Twelve Keys to Sustainable Happiness

By Lisa McCourt,

Book cover of Free Your Joy: The Twelve Keys to Sustainable Happiness

Lisa McCourt Author Of Free Your Joy: The Twelve Keys to Sustainable Happiness

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I wasn’t always a joyful person. But today I’m freaking sunshine, and full-out committed to being an effective member of the team that’s elevating the level of love and joy in the world! My positions on that team have included writing dozens of mega-selling books (my own, and as a ghostwriter), founding my online Joy School at, hosting my Do Joy! podcast, and collaborating on projects with many other popular teachers of consciousness and joyful living. My books have sold over 9 million copies, earned 7 publishing industry awards, and garnered over 9,000 glowing Amazon reviews. Joy is my jam. I know a joyful book when I read one! 

Lisa's book list on igniting joy despite all the crap in your life

What is my book about?

We all want peace. We all want a life of joy and meaning. We want to feel blissfully comfortable in our own skin, moving through the world with grace and ease. But how many of us are actively taking the steps to create such a life? 

In Free Your Joy, millions-selling author and podcaster Lisa McCourt takes readers through the life-altering principles of vibration elevation that she has taught for 20 years through her online Joy School, sharing her unique formula for raising your “joy setpoint” to cultivate authentic, lasting peace and fulfillment in your daily life. Joy is…

Free Your Joy: The Twelve Keys to Sustainable Happiness

By Lisa McCourt,

What is this book about?

Bestselling author and creator of Joy School Lisa McCourt outlines her unique formula for sustainable happiness, offering a year's worth of activities, prompts, and techniques that raise your "joy setpoint" so you can cultivate authentic, lasting peace and fulfillment in your daily life.

Unprecedented global events have left many of us feeling depleted, depressed, isolated, and disconnected from many of the things that made us happy. Lisa McCourt, host of the Do Joy! podcast and founder of Joy School, helps people raise their joy setpoints regardless of what is happening around them.

Learning about joy is one thing, but it's…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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