In 2010, Americans spent $11 billion on self-improvement products and services, up 13.6 percent from 2005, according to Marketdata Enterprises, an independent Tampa-based research firm. Marketdata’s John LaRosa notes that it’s an especially popular industry among affluent women on the coasts. “There’s a changing of the guard going on. As many older gurus are nearing retirement, younger, more Web-savvy gurus are emerging—ones who know how to connect with their followers on a more personal level,” he says.
Evidence is mounting that workplace factors (such as high job demands, low job control, and lack of social support) contribute to depression. One U.K. study of 972 32-year-olds published in the journal Psychological Medicine found that work stress appears to precipitate diagnosable depression and anxiety in healthy young people. Another study published in 2012 in the American Journal of Epidemiology surveyed 2,700 men and women living in Alberta from 2008 to 2011 who were not depressed. After a year, 4.5 percent of the women had developed depression, vs. 2.9 percent of men. Women who worked 35 to 40 hours per week and reported job insecurity, a high effort-reward imbalance, and work-family conflict were at a higher risk of developing depression.
For a lot of these high-achieving women, their bucket list is already becoming a reality, but they look at their life and think, ‘This isn’t what I thought it was going to be.’ 'Do I like who I am?' 'Am I happy with the person I am becoming?'
To answer honestly, we need to have crystal-clear insight into the person who bears our name and Social Security number. Let’s face it: you are the most interesting and important subject in the entire world. You will always be at or near the center of your world. It’s a comfortable place to be!
So, one of the most exciting—and, often, one of the most intimidating—experiences lies in gaining a fuller understanding of just who you are. Life is a perpetual process of becoming. To truly understand ourselves, we need to understand how we view ourselves, how others view us, and how we truly interact with others, not how we think we interact. Self-understanding means knowing what we need and how we desire to grow.
Since our entire lives are controlled by our attitudes, we must recognize the fact that our perceptions are involved in everything we think and do. A person cannot think negatively about another person and then feel good about their relationship. So, if we want successful relationships and successful lives, it is our responsibility to control what goes on in our minds.
Self-awareness requires us to recognize our personal energy fluctuations because they determine how we respond physically and mentally. Here are some self-improvement books that can help you get the life you want to live:
Sources: Bloomberg BusinessWeek, December 23, 2012 along with the books listed above.