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

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  3,830 Ratings  ·  237 Reviews
“Explorers depend on the North Star when there are no other landmarks in sight. The same relationship exists between you and your right life, the ultimate realization of your potential for happiness. I believe that a knowledge of that perfect life sits inside you just as the North Star sits in its unaltering spot.”

Martha Beck has helped hundreds of clients find their own N
Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 29th 2002 by Harmony (first published 1997)
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Kimberly Calderon
Dec 17, 2009 Kimberly Calderon rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: ANYONE!
This book is amazing!

I started reading this book because I couldn't figure out why I wasn't happier in my life. This book offers simple exercises and steps to figure out your best direction. There's nothing earth shattering in here, but the way Martha Beck has written the book makes the information very easy to digest and use.

A few months after I first read this book I was hospitalized with a life-threatening condition and that, combined with the soul searching I'd done in connection with read
Susan Howson
Aug 10, 2013 Susan Howson rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: the world
Shelves: improvement
Thaaat's right! Five stars, jokers! I read this thing so dang slowly but it's because every page made me have so many THOUGHTS and also a few FEELINGS (but mostly THOUGHTS).

Important points:

1. This book will be most useful to you if you feel a little lost, unsatisfied, or discontented. If you're banging along, being awesome and joyful all the time, that is great. Write a book and I will read it or possibly throw it at you. But you should read this one anyway, because it will be useful when you a
Jan 18, 2014 Kat rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This book saved my life. I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say that. I was deep in the grip of depression when my onii-san, David, let me borrow his copy of "Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live" by Martha Beck. I was in pain, confused, and trying desperately to claw my way out of a hole I had only recently realized I was in. I needed to make sense of what was happening to me, why I was so unhappy, and what to do about it. Listening to other people doesn’t ...more
Zach A.
Jun 17, 2009 Zach A. rated it liked it
This book pleasantly surprised me. It was recommended on, one of the blogs I like, but I was afraid it was going to be formless and non-specific. To the contrary, Ms. Beck is highly pragmatic and the book is focused on concrete steps you can take to make real changes in your life and try to ensure they are the right changes for you.

Also, Martha blew me away with her intelligence and wit on every page.

I have to deduct one star because I get the feeling that
Jan 07, 2014 Jessica rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, home-love
I have this book 2 stars because I started out liking it, and I did make it 240 pages in. It was after the chapter on trusting your intuition that I stopped- I'm all for learning to trust my gut, but a bunch of how-tos on how to get in touch with my psychic side evidentially wasn't what I was in the mood for.

I really want to find my passion in life. But I don't think I'm going to search and search and then realize "oh, duh, I've been woodworking all along- THAT'S my passion that I should turn in
Oct 18, 2010 Sharon rated it it was amazing
Sociologist and life coach Martha Beck, PhD, presents some fascinating information on finding out your life purpose.

Beck's premise is that our "social self," the face we present to the world, that does the things Everybody (some generalized other) tells us to do in order to succeed, takes us too far away from our "essential self," the one that knows what things really make us shine from within.

Recognizing that self-improvement is hard work, and can bring up some painful issues, Beck talks about
Aug 26, 2008 Jen rated it it was amazing
This book is inspiring, funny, and overall has been wonderful for me. Great for those that are somewhat restless or unhappy with their current path and wondering about their life's direction.
Nancy Schober
May 13, 2011 Nancy Schober rated it liked it
I bought this book a few years ago and scanned it at the time. For some reason I knew then wasn't the right time. Someone mentioned it so I picked it up again.[return][return]Here are some of my favorite passages:[return][return]...when you relax the thinking mind, the rule-bound, anxiety-ridden social self, you are not simply stopping everything. Taoists believe that there is an immense benevolent force flowing through all reality, and that each of us at least our essences are part of that forc ...more
Araminta Matthews
Jun 13, 2016 Araminta Matthews rated it it was ok
I found some of the strategies of this book helpful. I was turned onto it by a search that spiraled out of an issue of Spirituality & Health magazine about using intuition to pilot your own internal compass (or north star). This book was not the one referenced, but I got it anyway. Generally, I find everythingeverythingeverything boils down to mindfulness and meditation...

Anyway, Beck has some good ideas, but she is woefully privileged and blissfully unaware of her privileged stance. She wri
I am starting to learn more about my essential self (it's slowly coming out from my social self!)

This is a GREAT book! I really like her approach in discovering yourself. You have two selves: the essential self (who you really are inside) and the social self (who society expect you to be). As we grow older our social self becomes so dominant, that we need to do a lot of "surgery" to find our essential self.
I liked the last third of the book, where she discusses the change cycle. Change follows
Kate McDowell
Jul 27, 2012 Kate McDowell rated it it was amazing
So much of my work, as a teacher, is helping people to locate that drive inside of them that will lead them to their dreams. Sometimes people know for sure they want to work with children, and other times it's a more mysterious process of exploration. I'm glad to recommend this book for those times when there's a sense that more is possible but uncertainty about what, exactly, that possibility might mean. This is also a good book to revisit for those youth services librarians who have been ...more
Jul 31, 2008 Marisa rated it it was amazing
I'll be the first to admit that I'm not much of a self-help person... but i saw Martha Beck on Oprah and decided to read her book. This book gave me the courage to quit my awful job. Martha Beck also writes in a really relatable, funny way.
Oct 16, 2016 Kris rated it liked it
Such a mixed bag. There is a lot of good info in here, mixed with some things about ESP and psychic abilities that don't seem to have anything to do with the rest of the book. I was annoyed by the author's privilege, assuming that everyone has a quiet, calm place where they can be alone for at least an hour a day to do these exercises.

So, if there was so much I didn't like, why three stars? The sections that start with the change cycle are valuable. Really, really good information with practical
Feb 06, 2016 Helynne rated it it was amazing
I really like self-help books in general, and I have gleaned at least a small amount of wisdom and useful advice from every one I have read. I think Martha Beck’s Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life Your were Meant to Live merits all five stars I am giving it because of its straightforward, honest, and usable advice and its sheer readability. I always enjoy Martha Beck—her books and her monthly column in O magazine. Beck is wise, funny and has a no-holds-barred writing style that rea ...more
Oct 07, 2013 Hope rated it it was amazing
I'm not finished with "Finding Your Own North Star" yet, but I hadn't intended to even start on it before I finished some other reading, anyway! Picking it up, I skimmed a little and found myself completely engrossed. I've read some of Beck's O and columns and found them interesting, but this book is far better than I'd imagined it would be. If you're interested in this subject, go get yourself a copy. Really!

For one thing, Beck is specific and practical about life changes--these aren
Feb 06, 2016 Jane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Yes, five stars. I SO wish I had this book in my hands when it was new, and not the dozen or more years later. It really takes you through all the stages a normal (and even abnormal) human being must go through to deal with all the crap and the obstacles that they own, whether thrust upon them or embraced and adopted like neurotic little pets. Having been through many of the stages - prolonged, in my case, for many - and learning by rote, hearsay, and osmosis the wisdom/testimony cobbled from ...more
Apr 21, 2016 Lauri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this book right after getting my acceptance letter into an MSW graduate program that involves 18 months of intensive study along with an internship, followed by 3200 hours of supervised work before even getting a license. (Oh, and I'm 62 and no longer need to work!) I picked the book up as part of a final quest to see if I actually, really, truly wanted to do it. I guess it's a tribute to either the book or my own insanity that I have in fact decided to do it, and moreover I ...more
I was right in my decision to purchase this title. I knew if I used the library's copy, I would not do the exercises. And with this book there is no point in reading it without using the tests. The point of this is to work through the ideas for yourself.

Several years ago, I read Beck's book Expecting Adam. I found Beck to be a fascinating woman - too type A for me, but really articulate.

This book is very different from her memoir, but Beck's personality shines through this book. She is very posi
Mar 19, 2009 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Finding Your Own North Star, by Martha Beck has also been on my book shelf for a few years now. An insightful book with some thought-provoking exercises, designed to help you to explore your inner thoughts for true happiness. The goal of this book seems to be to help the reader to recognize their internal desires, and to leave behind boredom and discontent, heal old emotional wounds and to gain a whole new appreciation and zest for life, i.e.: "Finding Your Own North Star, and Leading the Life
Apr 29, 2011 Roxann rated it really liked it
Fantastic book. Read it maybe back in '03. I was quite lost and a bit paralyzed emotionally. Shook me out of the rut I was in and got me breathing and living again. She has lots of great client examples/stories, exercises, and questionnaires. But what I enjoyed most - what kept me reading and opening up - was her warmth and wit. She's so dead on. It feels like she knows you.
May 01, 2011 Stefanie rated it really liked it
If Mary Roach or Sara Vowel wrote self-help it would read like this. Funny, furiously fast read filled with anecdotes both personal and professional. The main thesis: our inner voice is often in conflict with our socialized public voice. Learn to recognize each voice and not live in a war against your personal ethic.
Dec 10, 2007 Brian rated it liked it
Pretty insightful self-diagnosis book, full of useful if not slightly basic exercises designed to get one thinking about personal hang-ups (for lack of a more precise term). It's all about what's holding you back, or more accurately, why you're holding yourself back. I'd give it 4 stars, but I had a hard time focusing on myself for 400+ pages, so I graded it 3 stars.
Nov 07, 2007 Karen rated it it was amazing
I love Martha Beck so much! If you've ever wondered if you can make your life more fulfilling or wish you could embark on your dream project, Martha can inspire you to be your best. Full of writing exercises to give you concrete ideas and answers, this book is a must for anyone who wants more from their life.
May 10, 2009 Lea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the first half of this book better than the last half. You have to be ready to think and work through some exercises during the last half. One tip from the book: when you are working on something that is your passion, it won't feel like work. "Doing without doing" is a phrase that stock out for me from the book.
Oct 31, 2008 Nedra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I probably would have given this 4 stars if Martha hadn't been brilliant enough to write her next self-help book, Steering By Starlight. Finding Your North Star is good. Steering By Starlight is brilliant. Just go straight to that one. Sorry Martha, you know I love you.
Rachel Knaak
Jan 28, 2016 Rachel Knaak rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The author's funny and entertaining sense of humor keeps the reader amused as well as engaged.
Dec 13, 2014 Kate rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A collection of essays, some very good. I enjoy her spunky voice.
Micah Grant
Nov 21, 2016 Micah Grant rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-improvement
She uses a variety of techniques and methods to help find ways to recognize your true self. Very comprehensive information to discovering what you really want to do, and how to deal with the challenges and changes it will require.
Lindy MacLaine
Dec 06, 2016 Lindy MacLaine rated it it was amazing
This is a really dense book-- it has SO many insights and helpful assignments. It's a book to work through slowly, so as not to feel overwhelmed. I absolutely LOVED Martha's 4 Squares of Change: on the nuts and bolts of navigating change successfully.
Oct 14, 2016 Julie rated it liked it
I gave up on finishing this one about 2/3 of the way through. Useful and occasionally humorous but didn't make me want to read more.
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I grew up wanting to be an ecologist or a professor. However, after bearing three children while acquiring three Harvard degrees, I decided I’d rather just lie down for a few decades. During that time I became an author and life coach. My books include Expecting Adam, Leaving the Saints, Finding Your Own North Star, The Joy Diet, Steering By Starlight, Finding Your Way in Wild New World, and The M ...more
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