Books to read to figure out your career path

We all know that person who declared at the age of four that they were going to be a doctor or a firefighter or a ballerina — and actually ended up doing just that.

A few lucky folks among us know what they want to be when they grow up. But for the rest of us, it’s not that simple. And for many, it’s a long, confusing, doubt-ridden path with lots of stops and starts.

If you find yourself at the beginning of your career, trying to figure out which direction to head, reading some books on finding your career path is a great place to start. The same goes if you’re mid-career but needing a change.

Below are some helpful reads to guide you in your search for the right career.

What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles

This is one of the ultimate (perhaps the ultimate) books when it comes to career path advice. Many a career counselor keeps this book around as a resource. It explores not only how to find a suitable career path for yourself, but also how to make that trajectory happen once you’ve decided on it. A true must-read for anyone wanting to change — and improve — their career.

Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey

This classic book on the Myers-Briggs personality types is not focused specifically around career. However, to find the right career, we have to first find out who we are and what makes us tick. This book will help you do just that.

Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

This book takes an active approach to designing your life and career with intentionality. Burnett and Evans ask us to discover what kind of a life will give us the most meaning and fulfillment. It provides a great way to explore, brainstorm, and organize our intentions and desires in life on the whole — and in our careers specifically.

Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type by Paul D. Tieger

If you’d like to use your personality type to help you through the process of finding the right career, Tieger’s book is a great pick. It includes advice and workbook exercises that use personality types as the foundation for exploring what’s best for us when it comes to our working selves.

Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams by Barbara Sher

If you’re the kind of person who’s always had tons of different interests, passions, and pursuits, this is the book for you. Sher encourages readers to not force themselves into choosing just one path. She firmly believes that we can — and should — chase and do all the things we love. For the multi-passionate person, this is the perfect guide.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

This book explores the approaching change in general. But it can be extremely helpful for anyone in the process of changing careers. It can help us understand what holds us back when it comes to making changes, and it can send us on our way to making the necessary changes for a happy life and career.

You Majored in What?: Designing Your Path from College to Career by Katharine Brooks

Brooks’s book is specifically designed for twenty-somethings. She encourages readers to not assume that what you major in equals what your career will be. She offers strategies for not only figuring out a career but also creating the right opportunities and insights. An excellent read for current college students or young-ish adults starting off in their careers.

The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success by Nicholas Lore

This is a great book no matter whether you’re starting off or looking for a career change. Lore shares advice, self-tests, and diagnostic tools for choosing a career and/or changing a career. It’s the perfect action-oriented and practical guide for career path searchers.

Roadmap: The Get-It-Together Guide for Figuring Out What To Do with Your Life by Brian McAllister, Mike Marriner, and Nathan Gebhard

Roadmap will help figure out what the heck you want to do with your life. It’s interactive, prompt-filled, and practical. Its advice and wisdom act as helpful guides for finding answers to all your career path questions.