The self-help section of the bookstore gets a bad rap.

Nobody wants to admit they need a little guidance, but considering the $11 billion Americans spend on personal development annually, many of us do. Over the past four decades, self-help has gone from a niche genre to an integral part of our culture. From carving out your dream career to finding love and changing the way you think, self-help authors have cornered the market on promises, and sold millions of books in the process. In 2019 alone, there are a host of new titles hitting the shelves—from Jen Sincero's latest self-esteem booster, You Are a Badass Every Day, to tech guru Reshma Saujani's business empowerment journey Brave, Not Perfect and happiness proponent Gretchen Rubin's Outer Order, Inner Calm.

If you're a fan of the genre, this year promises to deliver more inspiration, wisdom and Instagram quotes than ever before. But sometimes too many choices can be overwhelming, and with self-help making up nearly 6 percent of all book sales, it's hard to decide what to buy, especially if indecisiveness is one of those annoying habits you're looking to change.

While there are literally hundreds of books designed to make you a boss in your professional and personal life, there are a few that have stood the test of time. We're talking about books that have changed the self-help genre, and altered the lives of their readers. We can't promise they'll change yours, but they might just set you up on the right track.

If You're Looking To Find Your Purpose

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron

Since it was first published in 1992, Cameron's creativity workbook has sold over 4 million copies and spawned "Artist Way" meetup groups around the country. Everyone from The Four Hour Work Week's Tim Ferriss to Eat Pray Love's Elizabeth Gilbert have followed Cameron's guidance. The former journalist founded her "path to higher creativity" after her divorce from director Martin Scorsese and a long battle with addiction. In creating a template for resetting her life's course and finding her own creative path, she ended up helping countless others do the same.

Cameron's book is less about bombarding you with advice than about ushering out the internal voice you may have been drowning out. While reading her book, you're required to write morning pages—essentially, stream-of-conscious journaling each morning—and to take yourself out on weekly artist dates designed to inspire your creativity. The "12-week course" is filled with opportunities to answer questions about your interests, your memories and what drives you. The goal is to unblock you from whatever fears are holding you back from pursuing your creative passions.

If you're the kind of person who needs one-size-fits-all concrete answers, this isn't going to give you that—on the surface—but after a few weeks of Cameron's workbook, you might just discover you've had the answers inside you all along, you just weren't listening to yourself. It may sound hokey, but it does work for a lot people. "When I teach, it's like watching the lights come on," Cameron said in a recent interview with the New York Times. "My students don't get lectured to. I think they feel safe. Rather than try and fix themselves, they learn to accept themselves. I think my work makes people autonomous. I feel like people fall in love with themselves."

If You Want to Be a Better Leader

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

One of the top-selling self help books of all time with over 25 million copies sold, 7 Habits was first published in 1989. Less than a decade later, Time Magazine named the businessman and public speaker one of the most influential figures in America. Covey's insights into self-improvement and leadership are founded on breaking those perpetual habits that get in our way—procrastination, self-criticism and impatience, to name a few. Part of his philosophy is rooted in retraining the mind to put off immediate gratification in favor of long-term goals. "Happiness can be defined, in part at least, as the fruit of the desire and ability to sacrifice what we want now for what we want eventually." Through this overriding principle, Covey provides a kind of map to leadership, providing tools for readers to take control of their financial, professional and interpersonal destinies.

If You Want to Build a Better Life Outside Your Work

Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into The Mystery and Art of Living by Krista Tippett

As the host of NPR's long-running interview series, On Being, Tippett has spent her career gleaning wisdom from philosophers, poets, scientists and spiritual leaders. In her 2016 book, she compiles what she's learned into a meditation on self-worth, hope and, most notably, love. Unlike other romance-centric self-help books, Tippett's view of love isn't prescriptive, heteronormative or tactical. Instead, she ruminates on the many incarnations of love and its ability to impact the lives around us as well as our own. "What is love?" she asks. "Answer the question through the story of your life." From here, she takes the reader on an introspective journey that challenges each of us to reconsider our stagnant notions of romantic love and embrace a wider understanding of the word, refuting the idealized notions that perpetuate self-doubt, impatience and unfulfilled desires. "Love doesn't always work as we want it to, or look like something intimate and beautiful," Tippett writes. "There are times and places in human existence when love means life on the line, but most of us need not live that way most of the time. . . . Sometimes love, in public as in private, means stepping back." Whether you're stuck in a romantic rut or questioning the path to self-love, Tippett's book is a holistic journey that will make you rethink all those "rules," and remind you that there is only one: love.

Of course, we're just scratching the surface of the self-help genre. There are seemingly endless amounts of options—but if you're looking for an entry point into changing your life over the course of a few hundred pages, these three books are the best places to start.

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Over two years into the most momentous event in our lives the world has changed forever … Some of us have PTSD from being locked up at home, some are living like everything’s going to end tomorrow, and the rest of us are merely trying to get by. When the pandemic hit we entered a perpetual state of vulnerability, but now we’re supposed to return to normal and just get on with our lives.

What does that mean? Packed bars, concerts, and grocery shopping without a mask feel totally strange. We got used to having more rules over our everyday life, considering if we really had to go out or keeping Zooming from our living rooms in threadbare pajama bottoms.

The work-from-home culture changed it all. Initially, companies were skeptical about letting employees work remotely, automatically assuming work output would fall and so would the quality. To the contrary, since March of 2020 productivity has risen by 47%, which says it all. Employees can work from home and still deliver results.

There are a number of reasons why everyone loves the work from home culture. We gained hours weekly that were wasted on public transport, people saved a ton of money, and could work from anywhere in the world. Then there were the obvious reasons like wearing sweats or loungewear all week long and having your pets close by. Come on, whose cat hasn’t done a tap dance on your keyboard in the middle of that All Hands Call!

Working from home grants the freedom to decorate your ‘office’ any way you want. But then people needed a change of environment. Companies began requesting their employees' RTO, thus generating the Hybrid Work Model — a blend of in-person and virtual work arrangements. Prior to 2020, about 20% of employees worked from home, but in the midst of the pandemic, it exploded to around 70%.

Although the number of people working from home increased and people enjoyed their flexibility, politicians started calling for a harder RTW policy. President Joe Biden urges us with, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”

While Boris Johnson said, “Mother Nature does not like working from home.'' It wasn’t surprising that politicians wanted people back at their desks due to the financial impact of working from the office. According to a report in the BBC, US workers spent between $2,000 - $5,000 each year on transport to work before the pandemic.

That’s where the problem lies. The majority of us stopped planning for public transport, takeaway coffee, and fresh work-appropriate outfits. We must reconsider these things now, and our wallets are paying

the price. Gas costs are at an all-time high, making public transport increase their fees; food and clothes are all on a steep incline. A simple iced latte from Dunkin’ went from $3.70 to $3.99 (which doesn’t seem like much but 2-3 coffees a day with the extra flavors and shots add up to a lot), while sandwiches soared by 14% and salads by 11%.

This contributes to the pressure employees feel about heading into the office. Remote work may have begun as a safety measure, but it’s now a savings measure for employees around the world.

Bloomberg are offering its US staff a $75 daily commuting stipend that they can spend however they want. And other companies are doing the best they can. This still lends credence to ‘the great resignation.’ Initially starting with the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors which were hard hit during the pandemic, it has since spread to other industries. By September 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4.4 million resignations.

That’s where the most critical question lies…work from home, work from the office or stick to this new hybrid world culture?

Borris Johnson thinks, “We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office.” Because his experience of working from home “is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”

While New York City Mayor Eric Adams says you “can't stay home in your pajamas all day."

In the end, does it really matter where we work if efficiency and productivity are great? We’ve proven that companies can trust us to achieve the same results — or better! — and on time with this hybrid model. Employees can be more flexible, which boosts satisfaction, improves both productivity and retention, and improves diversity in the workplace because corporations can hire through the US and indeed all over the world.

We’ve seen companies make this work in many ways, through virtual lunches, breakout rooms, paint and prosecco parties, and — the most popular — trivia nights.

As much as we strive for normalcy, the last two years cannot simply be erased. So instead of wiping out this era, it's time to embrace the change and find the right world culture for you.

What would get you into the office? Free lunch? A gym membership? Permission to hang out with your dog? Some employers are trying just that.

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Did you hear about the Great Resignation? It isn’t over. Just over two years of pandemic living, many offices are finally returning to full-time or hybrid experiences. This is causing employees to totally reconsider their positions.

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