The 5 books I'm reading after a wellness retreat

Sep 19, 2023
2023-09-19 Intentional Productivity blog image - Books 2023

I had the pleasure of being part of a women’s wellness retreat this past weekend, which was a great opportunity for connection, restoration, and engaging discussion.

One theme that came up repeatedly was the importance of listening to how you feel versus pushing through, switching off, and burning out.

Now, back in May, I wrote about the 7 types of rest we need and how to practice each one. And today I want to explore this question:

How do you continually show up in your work, relationships, and creative pursuits with energy and intention?

After an especially demanding spring and summer, I keep coming back to this question. To be honest, I think we’re always re-learning and remembering how to rest and restore ourselves while also cultivating consistency in healthy, sustainable ways.

As a starting point, and in the spirit of connection and collaboration, I thought I’d share some of the resources I’m turning to. Maybe they can help guide your (re-)learning as well.

Let’s dive in.



1. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

by Elizabeth Gilbert

This guide to living a creative life shows how to overcome fear and self-doubt to fully embrace your creative potential.

Quote: “It’s a simple and generous rule of life that whatever you practice, you will improve at.”


2. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

by Anne Lamott 

An entertaining and honest look at the realities of writing that provides strategies and inspiration for tackling projects one piece at a time.

Quote: “Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere.”


3. Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead

by Tara Mohr 

Real, practical tools to quiet self-doubt, “unhook” from praise and criticism, unlearn counterproductive habits, and take bold action.

Quote: “Playing big doesn't come from working more, pushing harder, or finding confidence. It comes from listening to the most powerful and secure part of you, not the voice of self-doubt.”


4. The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World

by Dorie Clark 

How to achieve long-term career goals through consistency, social capital (aka relationships), strategic action, and steady progress.

Quote: “What few realize is that with small, methodical steps taken day after day, almost anything is attainable, and frequently sooner than you might imagine.”


5. Self Care at Work: How to Reduce Stress, Boost Productivity, and Do More of What Matters

by Melissa Steginus 

It’s important to me to revisit tools and practices I share with others. This short, practical book continues to impact my work and health by reminding me of simple ways to invest time and energy into my health, hobbies, values, and priorities. (The same is true for Everyday Mindfulness, which I also revisit regularly.)

Quote: “If what you’re doing lacks purpose or intention—if you don’t know why you’re working so hard to move in a certain direction—then all you’re doing is losing energy.”



Conclusion: It's easy (and normal) to lose enthusiasm when faced with self-doubt, fear, and everyday obstacles and obligations. Seeking out new voices, approaches, and resources can provide both creative momentum and practical strategies to overcome these hurdles.

Exposure to new ideas*—in addition to taking small, methodical steps to apply these ideas—can reinvigorate your drive and equip you with tools so you can show up consistently for the work you care about.

*Other critical parts of the equation include: intentional rest, checking in with yourself, saying no, and working with your energy levels.


Your time and energy are precious. Invest in the people, approaches, and resources that empower you to spend yours on what you value. And, as always, thank you for sharing some with me today.

— Melissa


PS. Interested in checking out any of the books on this list? Here are the links:

  1. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
  2. Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott
  3. Playing Big by Tara Mohr
  4. The Long Game by Dorie Clark
  5. Self Care at Work by Melissa Steginus


This list contains links that are part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This means I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase using these links (at no additional cost to you.)  Please know that I only link to items I've used and found beneficial. I've personally purchased (or written!) and benefitted from each of these books; they are included here because I honestly believe they will be useful to you.



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