I don’t think I had ever picked up a personal development book before 2018. Formally known as “self-help books”, it was a section of Waterstones I had never explored, put off by the strange stigma that surrounded the kind of people who sought improvement in this way. Maybe I thought these books were for those with a specific vice – smoking, say – but I never considered they were for me. 

When I joined a business mentoring group in April 2018, my peers were big fans of motivational quotes and The Greatest Showman soundtrack. I was sceptical, on both counts. There was a shortlist of recommended reads, and, having decided I was all in on this course, I willingly dug into “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert (author of “Eat, Pray, Love” – another book/movie I had also ignored). It was a ground-breaking read for me, showing me there was a new way to study. At home, alone, where there’s no exam, no pass and fail, no triumph or humiliation. There is one passage from this book that has really lingered with me, and it genuinely pops into my mind when I’m about to bottle out of doing something uncomfortable in my business:

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Big Magic, accompanied by a Wedding Bouquet Illustration Service drawing in progress


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“Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously. Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting—and, may I say, you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring.”

“There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still—your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.” 

At the dawn of the New Year, I thought I’d challenge a few of my entrepreneurial friends to share the personal development book that made a massive impact on them. 

A New Earth: Create a Better Life by Echkart Tolle 

as recommended by stationer Natalie Drage of Flamboyant Invites

Natalie Drage, Flamboyant Invites on Charlotte Argyrou Blog

Natalie Drage, Flamboyant Invites

“As a student of philosophy for many years, I have always been drawn to personal development books. Once I discovered Eckhart Tolle, I was hooked!  “A New Earth” is the one that speaks to me the most and I keep going back to it.”

“Life is a constant rush and often we think too much and seek too much and we forget about the joy of just BEING. We worry about what people think of us, we compare ourselves to others, and deep down we worry that we’re not good enough.  This book was a game changer for me because it taught me to let go of fear and start living life with greater openness and freedom, and to find my true self which is ultimately where happiness lies.”


Clarity in Everyday Life by Balanced View Team 
as recommended by Maddy Jones, Making Your Business Shine


Maddy Jones, Making Your Business Shine on Charlotte Argyrou blog

Maddy Jones, Making Your Business Shine

“I recommend this book because when I first read it seven years ago, it had a significant effect on me, changing my entire outlook and perspective on my life. I started to make changes in my life to look after me in a radically improved way. I love that in the book there are chapters on every area of life – money, relationship, work, etc and I have bookmarked and saved bits of it as screensavers, reminders on my phone and even written out little sections of it as a sort of meditation practice. I find the book comforting as well as motivating, plus there are lots of free YouTube videos to accompany the book here.”


Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola-Estes

as recommended by writer for authentic brands Jess Collins

Jess Collins on botanical artist Charlotte Argyrou blog

Jess Collins

“My favourite book of all time has to be Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, it’s one that I think no woman should be without.  Full of inspiring stories and life lessons, I bought a copy for my daughter the moment she was born, ready for her when she is older.  It can be a bit of a heavy read but I love dipping in and out and seeing what wisdom each page has to share whenever I need a message from the universe.  I truly believe that this book is for every woman but only when the time is right for them to read it, so I often think that if someone finds it too full on, it’s simply not the right time for her to read it, but that time always arrives.  If I could only have one book for the rest of my life it would be my much loved, dog-eared, underlined and over-read copy of Women Who Run With the Wolves.”


The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale

as recommended by Yvonne Cassidy, Creative Director, Yvonne Cassidy Weddings

Yvonne Cassidy, Yvonne Cassidy Weddings on Charlotte Argyrou blog

Yvonne Cassidy, Yvonne Cassidy Weddings

“It’s such an old, out of date book that I actually struggled with for years but one book that has gotten me through one of the darkest times in my life was The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. I don’t even know where I got the book, as the edition I have was published in 1952. He’s an American pastor, so when I first got the book I was a semi-goth late teenager and hated him, hated every reference to faith, hated his chauvinism. But I hung onto it and kept going back to it over the years and now I dip in and out of it every so often, I understand the times it was written in so apply the good stuff to now and ignore the stuff that isn’t relevant and it is one of my treasures. I turned to it a few years ago when we had trouble conceiving and it actually really helped. It’s a book I treasure.”


The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

as recommended by life coach for overwhelmed entrepreneurs Julia Davies

Julia Davies, Julia Davies Coaching on botanical illustrator Charlotte Argyrou blog

Julia Davies, Julia Davies Coaching

The Happiness Project was a game changer for me as it awoke a sense of being able to quite radically upgrade your sense of happiness with relatively simple, but well thought through, tweaks to your daily life. Creating a new habit each month – aided by gold stars and a wall chart… hello Type A personality (!) – Rubin stopped doing things she felt she “should” and went about adding more joy to her life in various guises. I’ll freely admit that it was a little hard to warm to the rigid and ever so slightly smug tone of the book, but it’s a light read and a good reminder that it’s up to you to craft a life that makes you happy, catering to your wants and whims, and continually re-evaluating and tweaking as you go.”


So that’s five recommended reads to enhance your 2019. I’d love to know if you have an additional suggestion or if you try out any of these. And if you are perhaps looking to free up more hours in your day to have more fun/creative time, please come and join my new Facebook group…Creative Living for the Stressed-Out Soul. It’s a small, friendly community of creatives seeking to smash through feelings of overwhelm and live a more contented, creative life. You’d be so welcome to join us. Here’s the link.


In the meantime, here are the links to all my fabulous contributors:

Modern, botanically-inspired stationery by Natalie Drage, Flamboyant Invites

SEO solutions with plenty of sparkle by Maddy Jones, Making Your Business Shine

Dublin-based wedding styling and celebrant Yvonne Cassidy, Yvonne Cassidy Weddings

Cut through overwhelm with the simplicity strategist Julia Davies, Julia Davies Coaching

Wondrous words from the feral writer Jess Collins

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