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Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live Kindle Edition

249 customer reviews

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Length: 400 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Put the telescope away; the North Star mentioned here is a human body, not a heavenly one. And like Polaris, which has guided sailors for centuries, the human body's gut feelings and emotions can help guide a wayward soul back to his or her "essential self." In this absorbing combination of detailed self-awareness exercises and true stories from her own counseling experience (equal parts sobering and hysterically entertaining), Harvard-trained sociologist Martha Beck invites readers to explore their heart's desires and the vast social webs that keep such desires in check. The goal is not to forsake the "social self" and indulge every emotional impulse of the "essential self." Rather, Beck gives readers the tools and the encouragement to achieve maximum happiness by harmonizing these typically divergent voices.

Beck (author of Expecting Adam) admits that repairing a damaged emotional compass and setting out on such a vital journey--which often involves painful realizations and changes--"has all the combined attractions of suicide and childbirth." But the payoff, she concludes, is a love affair with real life. To that end, she walks readers through a lengthy exercise to evaluate their current lifestyle's pleasures and pains, teaches the process of listening to the body for directional cues, describes how to extract "soul shrapnel" (healing all those nasty, self-defeating emotional wounds), and provides an intriguing "Map of Change" to achieve an authentic life. Beck's impressive knowledge, her engaging (if somewhat irreverent) voice, and her ability to parse this scary process into achievable steps make her a new champion in the self-help arena. --Liane Thomas

From Publishers Weekly

A fixed point in the sky that helps mariners stay on course, the North Star emerges as a symbol for realizing one's true potential in this cheerful and perceptive but too-long book. Though her navigational metaphors lose force with repetition, Beck's voice is light, down-to-earth and refreshing. Having found her way on her own journey from academia (she was a professor and researcher at Harvard Business School) to becoming an author (of Expecting Adam, a warmly received memoir about the birth of her Down's syndrome baby), Beck currently consults with clients on redirecting their lives. She teaches that each individual has a core personality that encompasses one's desires, emotions and preferences, which is sometimes blocked by a social self that responds to external influences and cultivates survival skills. By far the most fascinating material is on how to read warnings from the essential self: low energy, lapses into illness, forgetfulness, addictions, Freudian slips and mood swings. She advises steering toward the correct path by eliminating negative influences and practicing elaborate self-esteem exercises. A section on navigating change weighs the book down while suggestions for dealing with serious emotions like grief and anger are somewhat breezy. In the end, however, the numerous self-quizzes, exercises and chances to laugh will allow many readers to overlook these weaknesses. (Mar.)Forecast: Given the success of Expecting Adam and Beck's freelance contributions to Mademoiselle, Real Simple and Redbook, the author is likely to shine in a constellation of media venues and has a solid shot at capturing the imaginations of self-help seekers.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


Product Details

  • File Size: 3132 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; Reprint edition (June 3, 2008)
  • Publication Date: May 19, 2008
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0019O6IXE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,742 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Martha Beck is a writer and "life coach" who specializes in helping people design satisfying and meaningful life experiences. She holds a bachelor's degree in East Asian Studies and master's and Ph.D. degrees in sociology, all from Harvard University.

She worked as a research associate at Harvard Business School, studying career paths and life-course changes in today's economic and social environment. Before becoming a life coach, Dr. Beck taught sociology, social psychology, organizational behaviour, and business management at Harvard and the American Graduate School of International Management. She has published academic books and articles on a variety of social science and business topics.

Her non-academic books include the New York Times bestsellers "Expecting Adam" and "Leaving the Saints", as well as "Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live", "Steering by Starlight", and her newest book, "Finding Your Way in a Wild New World: Reclaiming Your True Nature". Dr. Beck has also been a contributing editor for many popular magazines, including "Real Simple" and "Redbook", and is currently a columnist for "O, the Oprah Magazine".

More information can be found at marthabeck.com, including Dr. Beck's lively blog posts and video blogs, books, speaking appearances, and life coaching strategies and suggestions.

Dr. Beck lives in Central California with her family.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

495 of 504 people found the following review helpful By P. Lozar on October 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
There are shelves and shelves of books on "making your dreams come true," but remarkably few that deal with identifying WHAT your dream is. My own background is similar to Beck's: I bought into my parents' dream that I would have an academic career, went all the way through a Ph.D., found a teaching job -- and discovered that I felt like a fish out of water. I was lucky enough to turn my skills into another career, but it's never engaged my heart, and if I could afford to abandon it I'd do so tomorrow without a single pang of regret. What to do with the rest of my life? I've been grappling with that question for several years now, and, after working through Beck's exercises, I feel for the first time that I'm approaching an answer.
The second part of the book deals with the change process and making your newly found dream into reality. Other writers have dealt with this (notably Barbara Sher), but I found Beck's approach more compelling for two reasons: (1) She doesn't gloss over the difficulties of creating a new life for yourself -- while she points out (as do many other authors) that the mere act of goal-setting can be very powerful, she also emphasizes that achieving those goals will be a long, difficult job. (2) She sees life changes as cyclic. Some books seem to imply that, once you've created a new life for yourself, you'll be settled for the rest of your days. That's just not true, and I felt that she did a good job of preparing readers for the inevitable NEXT series of changes in their lives. (Recommended supplementary reading: William Bridges' books on transitions.) All in all, I feel this is the best book of its type that I've read, and I recommend it highly to anyone who's grappling with these same issues in their own life.
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276 of 288 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Cathy Goodwin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 6, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a career/life coach who works with clients in midlife transition, I recommend this book to just about every client.
This is the ONE book to buy -- and I mean buy, not borrow! --
if you are undergoing a life transition.
Actually, despite the title, Martha Beck is a career counselor and the book focuses on career change. However, as Beck points out, relationships and personal questions can influence career change. Wisely she encourages readers to seek help from qualified therapists if personal issues cloud their careers -- but she is not afraid to tackle the tough emotional questions.
And her analysis of emotions would do credit to any personality or social psychologist. Fear, for instance, may not be fear at all.
Perhaps the best parts of the book are the chapter on intuition (a gem) and the five chapters that address the four stages of career change. Beck's view of intuition is sensible -- not New Age woo-woo but a way to gain deeper insight into our own motives. And describing the stages of transition, Beck gives us realistic indicators (those in phase 2 typically change their appearance!) as well as warnings about what to expect.
It's easy to miss the message between the lines, but Beck does hint that the path of change will not be an easy one. Unlike many authors, she dispenses with false cheer and hints of pain and sacrifice along the way. Change isn't magical. It can happen -- but you have to be realistic about yourself and your objectives.
That's a message I try to share with all my clients -- and I've sold so many copies of this book by word of mouth, I've been tempted to claim a share of the royalties. Don't miss it.
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195 of 205 people found the following review helpful By "mittstamp" on July 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Okay, maybe I've gone a bit overboard. But only a very little. I had previously read "Expecting Adam," which I thought was good although it brought my own grad-student days in Boston way too close too home :( This book, however, is more than "self-help." It's a blueprint for learning how to make your own choices, accept responsibility for making things better, and a PhD course in the "life lessons" that are so obvious, we've forgotten them. As in "If it brings you joy, do it. No, seriously, if it brings you joy, do it." Martha (I can't call her Mrs. Beck, because after my husband and I formed a "study group" to work through the exercises in this book together, she's become the fairy godmother I never had!) might have gotten a PhD in sociology, but thank God her North Star steered her towards writing. This book is better than years of powerful Freudian therapy (which heaven knows I've had, as well as Adlerian.) It's difficult to speak in specifics, since the book covers issues from psychosomatic illness, decision-making, visualization, and so forth, but the plan she lays out is simple: Figure out what you love. Do it--and she'll tell what land mines you may encounter along the way, the various false starts, opposition from within/without, and offers concrete strategies (and I mean REALLY concrete--this is definitely an interactive book, so get ready to start writing, thinking, and loving your life.) Martha, please keep writing! Here's a big electronic hug ....
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74 of 76 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 5, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the best book I have found on helping one discover what kind of work/career will truly bring them fulfillment. I've been looking for something like this for over 20 years, starting with "What Color is Your Parachute?", and followed by many more.
The book is great in that it not only provides a solid foundation and methods for helping this discovery, it also goes into the psychology that may hinder one's ability to do this, and offers real suggestions on what to do.
So many times I read what another reviewer calls "feel good books". I hate them too. They are a waste of time. This is the only book I've found that really offers something useful.
I read Po Bronson's "What Should I Do With My Life?", and loved it, because I saw how so many others also struggle with this issue, but was very disappointed that it didn't provide any thoughts or guidance to answer that question.
Until I read this book, I was coming to the conclusion that all of these self-help books are so much BS; now I have the atlas for my journey.
Thank you Martha Beck!
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