I’ve banged my head against the wall often enough to know two things. First, it hurts your head more than the wall. Second, there’s always a door you can walk through instead. You just need to find it.
Hitting a barrier in your job or relationship is frustrating. No matter what you do, you can’t seem to get past it.
Sometimes your whole life feels jammed, like you’re caught in a maze of dead ends – and you’ve got no idea how to get unstuck and move forward.
Seeing others ball on social media doesn’t help. It only creates self-doubt and makes you feel like you’re wasting your efforts. But running in circles doesn’t help, just like wheel-spinning in the sand won’t get your car out.
Instead, you need a different approach.
You need to do what you haven’t done before, even if you think you’ve tried it all.
Here are seven books that have changed the lives of thousands of men – and will help you get unstuck, too.
If You Have Too Much To Do and Don’t Know Where To Start
“Success demands singleness of purpose. You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects. It is those who concentrate on but one thing at a time who advance in this world.” – G. Keller / J. Papasan – The One Thing
Where focus goes, energy flows – and compounds.
A little bit of liquid can accomplish a lot. Water cutting machines slice through hard materials like titanium and steel up to 30cm thick, using only a few liters of water per minute. If you pour that same water over your dinner table, it will get you nothing but a wet surface and angry cries from your spouse.
The difference? Focus and pressure.
As someone who’s got a keen interest in just about anything, I know how hard it can be to zoom in on one thing.
Sometimes, it seems impossible because you’re so overwhelmed with everything on your plate.
- Performing well at work
- Spending enough time with your family
- Nurturing your friendships
- Paying the bills
- Quality time with your partner
- Watching your kids grow up
- Hitting the gym a few times a week
When there are a million things to do, it’s hard to find what will move you forward and get you unstuck.
But like in a ball of yarn, there’s always one thread – The One Thing – that marks the start.
The One Thing by Gary Keller & J. Papasan provides a purely logical process for finding it, starting with the question:
“What’s the One Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
From then on, you just have to keep toppling the dominoes.
Who this is for:
You’ve got too much on your plate and taking new things on, even if they’re probably life-changing things, feels overwhelming. You spread your efforts too thin, spinning your wheels without results. You finally want to make meaningful progress.
If Your Path Doesn’t Feel Right and Your Purpose Seems Far Away
“You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice—well, then you’re going to get fucked.” – Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
There’s no point running faster if you’re headed in the wrong direction.
Have you ever caught yourself putting in the work, crushing your goals, having everything you ever wanted – yet you’re still not happy?
The perfect job.
The happy relationship.
The beautiful picket-fence house or suburban apartment complete with a new car and fancy barbecue.
Or maybe all of that does make you happy, but something else doesn’t feel right – a suppressed dream, a never-lived adventure, a path you chose that wasn’t yours.
If you don’t live up to your values, you won’t be happy. I love traveling, being free, and enjoying the sunshine. No matter how much money, achievements, or booty you give me – I’ll never be happy living through a cold German winter.
So I decided to become a location-independent writer.
Your values govern everything you do, from your relationships over your attitude towards work to what you do on the weekend.
But if you’re brainwashed by society to follow a path that isn’t yours, you deny your authentic self.
No wonder you get stuck – you were never supposed to walk this road.
In The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson leads you on a fun – and sometimes painful – journey of self-discovery.
With lighthearted but touching stories, mind-blowing insights, actionable questions, and deliberate use of the four-letter f-word, he opens your eyes to what you’ve been blind to.
What you’ll see will explain a lot – and help you find the right path.
Who this is for:
You live a decent life and by all standards, you’re “successful.” Yet, you’ve got the slight feeling that the path you’re following doesn’t lead to the promised land. You want to focus on what matters, discovering your purpose and authentic self in the process.
If You’re a Professional Procrastinator
“The hardest part of any important task is getting started on it in the first place. Once you actually begin work on a valuable task, you seem to be naturally motivated to continue.” ― Brian Tracy
Procrastination is a silent killer.
Its victims? Billions of ambitious goals, amazing lives, and never-lived dreams. Slowly suffocated by a never-ending series of “I’ll do it tomorrow.”
Procrastination makes you feel bad because you know you should be doing something else.
But you don’t.
Then, you look back with regret.
- “I wish I started my business earlier.”
- “I wish I had not put it off.”
- “I wish I had a better body.”
- “I wish I spent more quality time with my wife.”
Imagine where you could be today if you just did the work.
But if you procrastinate, you stay stuck – no matter how many insights, thoughts, or ideas you have.
You need to get started.
Not next week.
Eat That Frog will help you do exactly that. With 21 procrastination-busting techniques, Brian Tracy will get your ass out of bed and into the driver’s seat. So get to work – life’s short and you’ve got no time to waste.
Who this is for:
You know what you should do. You’re great at planning, dreaming, and coming up with life-changing ideas – but you rarely follow up on them. Instead, you find excuses to push things off until tomorrow or when the time is right.
If You Feel Like You Hold Yourself Back
“Much of your self-esteem doesn’t come from what happens to you on a given day or what somebody says, but what you know about yourself on the inside.” – Dr. Judy Ho, Stop Self-Sabotage
You are often your own biggest enemy.
You could already have a lot of the things you desperately crave. The promotion. More free time. A better relationship. A deeper connection with your kids. Instead, you hold yourself back.
You procrastinate, tell yourself you’re not good enough, and hang with the wrong people because you crave their validation.
You also find a million reasons why this or that won’t work.
These thoughts and patterns often take place on a subconscious level without you even being aware of them.
If you have the skills, knowledge, drive, and just about everything else to move forward but you don’t, the problem is likely between your own ears.
Changing your thought patterns is like fighting three Dark Souls bosses at once while being blindfolded because you’ll constantly get in your own way.
That’s why you need a clear and proven battle plan.
In Stop Self-Sabotage, Judy Ho provides a detailed six-step process to identify self-sabotaging patterns, deactivate the triggers, and replace your toxic behaviors with healthy ones.
You are the only one who stands between the life you have and the life you want – so stop holding yourself back.
Who this is for:
You stand in your own way, so despite having what it takes on paper, you’re still not moving forward as you should. You’re your own worst critic and your thoughts and behaviors stop you from taking the action you want to take.
If You’re Afraid of Finally Making the Move
“Be the weirdo who dares to enjoy.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert
Why is it so hard to turn ideas into action sometimes?
The reason is simple.
Even if you know exactly what you should do – or at least have a hunch – new endeavors are still scary, especially if you stray off the beaten path society has laid out for you with things like:
- Starting a side hustle
- Creating a movement to follow your purpose
- Living in another country
- Following an alternative relationship model
- Quitting your job and changing careers
All that shit is fucking scary.
As a creative writer, I feel that fear every day. I pour my heart and soul into my writing, sometimes telling stories I rarely tell in person. Every time I hit publish, I’m a little scared of others judging me.
But as Tim Ferriss said: “The things we’re afraid of most are often the ones we most need to do.”
As a lauded writing professional, Elizabeth Gilbert knows what it’s like to have great ideas but hold back out of fear.
In Big Magic, she not only tells heart-touching stories but also gives actionable suggestions on how to finally get unstuck and bring your big ideas to life. One of the mental models she proposes is the road trip.
You’re in the car, you and your creativity in the front while your fear is sitting in the back. It will always be there, nagging and screaming at you – but it doesn’t get a say in the route you choose because you’re the one behind the wheel.
This is only one of Gilbert’s ideas that will inspire you to seek out creative solutions to your problems without getting stuck in fear.
Because if you want to get unstuck, you have to act despite it.
Who this is for:
You’re holding back your creative side out of fear. You have ideas but they just seem too crazy to come true. You don’t allow yourself to chase your dreams, often because you’re afraid of failure and others might be judging you.
If Your Career Is Your Main Pain Point
“It doesn’t matter where you come from, where you think you are going, what job or career you have had or think you should have. You are not too late, and you’re not too early.” ― Bill Burnett
Life can be a thick jungle that’s hard to navigate – unless you have a map.
Without it, you’ll have great ideas but quickly get disillusioned, especially when it comes to finding your dream job.
Most men dream of work they’re passionate about – work that excites them, makes a difference in the world, and pays not only the bills but also a fun family vacation.
But the reality?
A soul-crushing 9-to-5 routine instead of meaningful pursuits, an underpaid grind. At first, you brush it off because “to get to the top, you have to start at the bottom.” But day by day, you realize that your passion both for your life and work is slowly fading away.
You’re officially stuck, but the right process can get you back on track.
In business and product development, the concept of Design Thinking puts you – the human – at the core. This methodology is how some of the greatest product innovations came to be.
Bill Burnett & Dave Evans, Stanford professors and founders of the Life Design Lab, show you how to apply this technique to your life and work, helping you get unstuck and making your dreams a reality.
Who this is for:
You feel like you’re stuck in your career and don’t know what you want. You may have a few ideas for improving it, but no clear process to put them together. You’re ready to improve your work and with it, your life.
If You Think You’ve Tried Everything
“Understand that reducing risk to zero is not possible. Living with uncertainty is always part of skipping the line. Because the entire idea is that nobody has ever attempted to do what you are now doing. That is why success can be found there.” – James Altucher, Skip The Line
It can take years to achieve your dreams – unless you find a shortcut.
Common advice and the well-beaten path don’t always work. Each situation is unique and what everyone tells you to do doesn’t always work for you. Hearing the same tips over and over is frustrating.
If you want unconventional results, you have to take the unconventional route.
This is what James Altucher tells you in Skip The Line.
He speaks from experience. Not only has he founded multiple million-dollar businesses, but he also has gone bankrupt several times. He knows the ups and downs of life – and how to navigate them best.
With his real, pragmatic, and actionable advice he shows you how to get unstuck by thinking outside of the box.
Instead of following the 10,000-hour rule for getting good at something, he gives you the rule of 10,000 experiments. Move fast, fail fast, learn fast. It’s the ideal approach for today’s fast-paced and opportunity-rich world.
If conventional doesn’t work, try unconventional.
Who this is for:
You’ve tried most advice there is but are still stuck. Mainstream tips don’t seem to work for you. You want to improve yourself, your business, or your work. You’re open to new, unconventional approaches and thinking outside of the box.
Summary To Help You Get Unstuck
Sometimes, a fresh perspective is all it takes to get out of your rut. These are the seven books that will change your view:
- The One Thing (G. Keller & J. Papasan)
- The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (Mark Manson)
- Eat That Frog (Brian Tracy)
- Stop Self-Sabotage (Judy Ho)
- Big Magic (Elizabeth Gilbert)
- Designing Your Life (Bill Burnett & Dave Evans)
- Skip The Line (James Altucher)
Whatever you do, don’t wait. Choose the one that speaks most to you – and finally get unstuck.