31 Best Motivational Books to Inspire Your Reading in 2021
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Motivation. When you have it, anything seems achievable. When it is lacking, it's tough to do even the simplest of things. Fortunately, one of the easiest ways to get motivated is to read a great book.
When you read the right book, you want to go out and conquer the world. The book motivates you to succeed. It is a good motivational book that hands you the tools you need to help you succeed. That is what makes great life-changing books.
Motivation is all about what drives you. There is a combination of external and internal motivating factors in our lives, but the internal motivations have proven time and time again to be far more effective. What motivates one person may not be what motivates the next because we are all unique, and that is the biggest thing to remember when understanding the internal motivation and trying to change your life. (Learn more about motivation theories here.)
For example, if you are a quiet person that tends to stay to themselves, you may not find much motivation visiting a networking event (or through other ways to meet people). However, maybe you can motivate yourself to attend this kind of function if you change the way you think about it. Maybe find a reason to go by understanding the purpose of the networking session, to begin with.
When looking for motivation, we need to look at both our strengths and weaknesses and think more positively about how we can change. Self-awareness is a vital key to success, and the following list of books will help you understand this a bit more and see what drives you.
And that is what this list is all about. It is a list of the 31 best motivational books to help you take charge of your life.
These books are all nonfiction. Fiction books may be motivational, but they often are short on details for achieving transformational life changes.
To make this list, a book needed to have something important to say. The book needed to provide solid ideas about how to make the changes it proposed in your life, and above all, the book needed to be motivational.
It needed to grab the reader by the wrist and pull them through the book, making them desire, more than anything, to take action and make changes in their lives.
That’s what it takes to be one of the top-flight motivational books. So, without further ado, let’s dig-in and uncover the list of the best motivational books to take charge of your life.
What You Will Learn
- 31 Best Motivational Books to Take Charge of Your Life (2021 Edition)
- 1. The Only Skill That Matters by Jonathan A. Levi
- 2. You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
- 3. Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg
- 4. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
- 5. Choose Yourself by James Altucher
- 6. High-Hanging Fruit by Mark Rampolla
- 7. Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton
- 8. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
- 9. Illuminate by Nancy Duarte & Patti Sanchez
- 10. Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink
- 11. Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
- 12. The Power of Broke by Daymond John
- 13. Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins
- 14. Hustle by Neil Patel
- 15. The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
- 16. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris
- 17. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and It's All Small Stuff by Richard Carlson
- 18. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
- 19. The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz
- 20. The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins
- 21. The Mindfulness Journal: Daily Practices, Writing Prompts, and Reflections for Living in the Present Moment by Steve Scott and Barrie Davenport
- 22. Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis
- 23. Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo
- 24. Becoming by Michelle Obama
- 25. Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins
- 26. Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
- 27. Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
- 28. Crushing It! by Gary Vaynerchuk
- 29. Fail Until You Don’t by Bobby Bones
- 30. Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven (Ret.)
- 31. Gmorning, Gnight! by Lin-Manuel Miranda
- Final Thoughts on Motivational Books for Personal Development
31 Best Motivational Books to Take Charge of Your Life (2021 Edition)
1. The Only Skill That Matters by Jonathan A. Levi
The sheer amount of information bombarding us every day is overwhelming. How do we stay on top of everything in order to keep our jobs or adapt to the new demands of modern life?
This book equips you with what you need to take on the challenges of the future – whether in your professional or personal life. And it’s offered for free. All you need to pay for is shipping and handling.
In the book, Jonathan Levi shares an approach that promises to help you become a super learner. This approach is anchored in neuroscience. Athletes and top performers have used the techniques to propel them to success.
Within the pages, you’ll learn the techniques for reading faster and improving your ability to recall information.
People who have already read this book call it a game changer. If you’re ready to unlock your potential greatness, get the free book.
3 Lessons from The Only Skill That Matters
- Learning is our gateway to everything we experience in life.
- Possessing information and applying it in the right context brings us to transformation.
- The idea of becoming a “superlearner” is not a thing of fiction, but is actually a skill that we can all cultivate.
2. You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero
This refreshing must-read inspirational book provides the reader with a guide to creating a life that you love.
Jen Sincero offers the reader 27 short chapters that are packed with captivating stories, humor, sound advice, and simple exercises to help people identify and get rid of their self-sabotaging thoughts and habits that prohibit people from achieving the success that they want.
After reading this book, you will have a better understanding of why you act the way you do and how to accept the things that you cannot change.
Readers have found that Jen Sincero is a talented writer who offers an edgy style that can be motivating to a lot of people. While this book doesn't offer much advice that cannot be found in other self-help books, it is presented in a fun and matter-of-fact way that is meant to entertain the reader while inspiring them to improve their life.
Sincero does use some critical language to describe people who are struggling that may be annoying to some, using words such as “lame-o” and “wuss,” which may hold a bit of shock value at first, but some believe that this language and its offensiveness can get old quickly.
However, this book offers a quick shot of motivation, which can be very useful to people who are looking for an enlightening read that is written by someone who is comical and inspiring.
[Jen is one of the new breed of female self-help authors that are standing up and making people notice over the past couple of years. See more of the best self-help books for women on this list]
5 Lessons from You Are a Badass
- The world benefits when you live your life in keeping with who you truly are.
- You are responsible only for your words and actions. How people react to what you say or do isn’t your responsibility.
- The only time you fail is when you quit. All the other times, you are gathering information and learning.
- Gratitude strengthens faith. Faith transforms your life.
- Being more concerned about other people’s opinions about you prevents you from living an authentic life. You are awesome just the way you are.
3. Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg
Read this book for eight productivity concepts that help explain why some people and companies are able to accomplish so much more than others. Drawing from information on neuroscience and behavioral psychology, along with the experiences of successful CEOs, generals, pilots, FBI agents, and Broadway songwriters, this well-researched book reveals how productive people and companies view the world in profoundly different ways than those who find less success.
For example, a group of Google's data scientists conducts a four-year study on how the most effective teams' function and find that a group's interactions are more important than the members of the group. Additionally, the experts who created the movie Frozen almost gave up after encountering some challenges before they decided to shake up their team in a way that initiated a creative breakthrough, leading to one of the highest-grossing movies to date.
This book explains that what these success stories have in common is that the people know that their productivity relies on making specific choices. The things that separate busy people from productive people are the ways decisions are made, the ambitions that are embraced, and the seemingly easy goals that are ignored. Leaders are able to establish cultures to prompt innovation and interact with data to create success.
This inspirational book uses rich storytelling to explain how people can improve their everyday lives. This innovative exploration of productivity can help anyone learn how to succeed without having to endure stress, struggle, or sacrifice. (And if you'd like to learn more about this topic, check out this article which details 14 strategies you can use to overcome procrastination and get things done in life.)
In this book, the author explores eight ideas that are the most important to improving one's productivity, including motivation, teams, focus, goal setting, managing other people, effective decision making, innovation, and absorbing data. Readers have stated that this book is written in a lively and eloquent way.
With narratives from some of the best journalists and leaders, the author is able to anchor the reader in many real-world situations to help drive home some key points. Many valuable lessons are shared with the reader along with dos and don'ts of living a productive life and being successful in business, especially when stressful situations arise and self-limiting beliefs threaten to derail us.
3 Lessons from Smarter, Faster, Better
- Motivation is a skill that you can learn. By reframing your perception this way, you find an easy trigger for choosing to take action.
- In order to accomplish something, focus on fewer things at a time.
- Embrace creativity as a form of productivity. This spark of innovation propels you to discover ways of breaking through the roadblocks caused by stress and fear.
4. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
The author of this book, psychologist Angela Duckworth, shows her readers that the secret to success is something she refers to as “grit.” She addresses all types of people from parents to students to business people to highlight the importance of the blend of passion and persistence. Duckworth refers to her own experiences beginning early on in her life that made her come to this conclusion.
In “Grit,” the author tells the real-life stories of cadets who are struggling through their initial experiences at West Point, teachers trying to work with students in inner-city schools, and insights from high achievers such as JP Morgan's CEO, Jamie Dimon, and Seattle Seahawks' Coach, Pete Carroll.
Some of the most valuable insights that the reader should take away from this book include why one's efforts are so important regarding a long-term goal, how passion and perseverance can be learned, and how one can trigger a lifelong interest for their craft.
Readers have found this book to be personal and insightful because it addresses what goes through one's head during a failure, and how those thoughts can make a big difference in one's future. Readers say that this is a great book to read for one's own success, especially if you can accept the idea that success is all about hard work.
4 Lessons from Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
- Grit is something that you can develop, similar to a growth mindset.
- Grit is a better determiner of success than talent.
- Your success can be determined by how well you deal with failure.
- Those who can persevere in mundane tasks are the ones who are most likely capable of giving a stellar performance.
5. Choose Yourself by James Altucher
I have been a fan of James’ books and his excellent podcast since he invited me as a guest many years ago when I first started writing books online. James is a serial entrepreneur, having started as many as 20 different companies.
He also happens to be a brilliant and really nice guy. Rare combinations: smart, entrepreneurial, kind, and with a gift for gab; knowing how to put some complex thinking into digestible bits the rest of us can easily understand.
I love many of his books, but Choose Yourself remains my favorite, and I think it is one of the single best motivational books around. Because that is the entire point of the book when it comes to “what” you should invest in to achieve success, his point is to “choose yourself.”
Showcasing real-life interviews and case studies, James shows us how the current world market is ripe for entrepreneurial self-starters to succeed if they invest their energy in themselves.
It is a wonderful book that is sure to motivate you and inspire you to make the most of your own talents.
Choose Yourself! Choose this book! And choose to work on your personal development.
3 Lessons from Choose Yourself
- Consider a rejection as an opportunity for improvement.
- You have four bodies: spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical. You need to take care of each.
- Choose to only do things that you love doing.
6. High-Hanging Fruit by Mark Rampolla
This book, written by ZICO Coconut Water founder Mark Rampolla, aims to teach the reader that when you reach higher, you will be able to build a successful business, make a great profit, and possibly even leave a lasting mark on the world.
Drawing from his own experience of not being inspired enough in his job and dreaming about more, Rampolla talks about his journey to selling coconut water in the United States. His ambitious goal created a whole new industry that brought America a healthy beverage alternative while also helping producers of the product in developing worlds profit from this resource.
This book was written for other people who want to succeed in light of their values. It may be the right book for you if you believe that it is your job to strive to build businesses that are driven by passion and purpose, along with a strong sense of integrity. This is a great book for a new generation of entrepreneurs to read who want to change the old model of business and exceed in innovative ways.
The lessons in this book can benefit anyone. Not only is the book well written, but it is also a page-turner when talking about the battle that the author had to fight with the American beverage business and his courage to stand up for his beliefs. Readers respect that the author believes that if people remain true to their core values, they have the ability to be successful and even promote social change.
3 Lessons from High-Hanging Fruit
- These days, success in business no longer means just making lots of money. It’s also about having a personal mission that makes a positive impact on other people’s lives.
- Have the courage to go after what you believe in.
- Trust your product.
7. Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton
This is a follow-up book to Clifton's First, Break All the Rules. The author uses his theories from his first book to help the reader discover what their specific strengths and talents are in life.
This book aims to debunk what the author believes to be a myth that many of us were told as children, which is that anyone can be anything they want to be. Some readers may find this opinion to be unsettling when beginning this book. However, the author presents the idea in a very freeing way.
He argues that instead of following callings that are likely to be dead ends, it is better to pursue the things that you are naturally wired to do. This will result in a happier and more successful life.
This idea can even apply to parenting. If your child comes home with several A's and B's, but also has an F, do you spend your energy focusing on the bad grade or praising your child for the good grades? Rather than trying to fix weaknesses that your child has no desire in, the author argues that it is better to encourage them in the subjects that they are strong. Focus on the things that your children show interest in and have a talent for and allow those strengths to grow.
This is a great book to change one's way of thinking. Regardless of one's personality, readers have found that this book and test can dramatically change the way you view the world and approach life. One slight weakness in this book is that it does not go deeper into his theory rather he just scratches the surface; however, the author does a very effective job showing how he developed this process through years of study.
3 Lessons from Now, Discover Your Strengths
- Most organizations spend too much of their resources on training people to fit a certain standard of productivity.
- Success comes more easily when people or organizations are aware of their strengths and apply them.
- People, companies, and organizations should finds ways of managing weaknesses in order to free up more of their resources so they can invest and focus more on letting their strengths work for them.
8. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
This book was written in 1937 and has become a classic. The text and formatting of the original book have been preserved as best as possible to be kept exactly the same as it was in the original release. This book was originally published during the Great Depression, and it is about the art of convincing yourself to become wealthy. It addresses the highly effective and important steps to take and the equally important steps to avoid in this process.
While some people have not found this book to be very useful, others refute that opinion by saying that one has to implement the strategies in the book in order to upgrade their lives.
There are a lot of captivating points and ideas in this book. For example, the author argues that 99% of people do not have a goal in their life and are therefore trapped in jobs that make them unhappy. Additionally, he proposes the idea that sex transmutation is an effective strategy to achieve success. This is where one transfers the energy of their libido into other purposes that are aimed at acquiring wealth.
The author also makes a solid point that most people do not achieve full success until later in life or at least after the age of 40. A few examples the author points out are Thomas Edison and Andrew Carnegie, who were both over the age of 40 when they acquired their fortunes.
Readers have found the author's roundtable ideas to be very intriguing and applicable to people of any background. If life is a game, these are the rules.
4 Lessons from Think and Grow Rich
- Autosuggestion trains your mind to manifest your goals.
- Make your own decisions and stand by them.
- Recognize and master the six fears.
- Write down your goals.
9. Illuminate by Nancy Duarte & Patti Sanchez
This book focuses on the idea that people who are able to change the world are the ones who truly believe they are able to. For example, Steve Jobs was able to captivate audiences when beginning his movement that led to Apple Inc. This is because he was telling his audience about his vision for the future and inviting them to join him in his ideas.
Leaders have great potential to anticipate the future with their inventions and inspire others to support their dreams. In this book, the authors provide the reader with the powerful communication tools that are needed for great leadership.
They are able to lay out a plan to help the reader lead people through all of the stages of transformation through the use of speeches, symbols, stories, and ceremonies.
This guidebook shows that while envisioning the future may be one thing, getting other people to follow your lead is another. By using persuasive communication, anyone can turn an idea into a movement. Due to the valuable insights and the immediate impact that this book provides, many readers choose to read it multiple times to continue to motivate themselves to work alongside their followers rather than try to embark on their vision alone.
3 Lessons from Illuminate
- A leader’s role is to be the torchbearer of the group.
- A leader’s vision is the starting point of a new venture.
- Every venture goes through stages: dream, leap, fight, climb, arrive, and re-dream.
Jocko Willink experienced the most violent battlefield in Iraq while serving on the SEAL team before writing this book, granting him great authority to write a book on leadership and success. While in Iraq, he helped U.S. forces secure Ramadi, and wrote this firsthand account of victory, heroism, and loss in SEAL Team Three’s Task Unit Bruiser.
During his experience, he learned that leadership is the most important element of success or failure. Once he returned to the United States, he began a SEAL leadership training program before expanding his leadership training to successful companies and clients.
In this book, he details the mindset and principles that allow SEAL units to accomplish their combat missions and shows how to apply this methodology to any team or organization. Each chapter of this book concentrates on a distinct topic such as Decentralized Command and Leading Up the Chain. The author explains what each topic is, their relevance, and how to put them to use in a leadership environment.
This is a compelling read that includes direct instructions and methods of application. It is great for business management, and it tasks existing leaders to fulfill their goal of leading and winning. One great thing about this book is that it is structured in a basic and clear way.
The book focuses on just one main point in each chapter through a story and then calls attention to the main principle of that story and how it can be applied.
5 Lessons from Extreme Ownership
- There are no bad teams, just bad leaders.
- Leaders take responsibility (a.k.a. extreme ownership), for both the success and failure of the team.
- Over-communicating is essential. Never assume anything.
- Always explain why something needs to be done.
- Simplicity is always the key.
11. Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
Prior to writing this book, Tim Ferriss spent two years interviewing over 200 top-notch performers, including celebrities, athletes, legendary Special Operations commanders, and black-market biochemists. During these in-depth two to three hour interviews, Ferriss was able to learn the distilled tools, tactics, and tricks to getting ahead that readers are unable to find anywhere else.
Ferriss offers his advice to readers with his constant focus on actionable details. He asks his interviewees specific questions such as what their morning routine looks like and how they fit physical exercise into their schedules. He also inquires about books that have inspired these experts and even things they consider to be a waste of time.
Everything that is written in this book has been explored and applied to the author's own life, so he considers them to be tried and true pieces of advice. He prides his work on the fact that it has made him millions of dollars and saved him from years of wasted efforts.
In this exciting book, Tim does a great job of making the reader feel as if he is talking directly to them. In this well-formatted and easy-to-follow book, the reader is offered advice and success principles that are commonly revisited throughout the years. Some have referred to this book as being a “manual to life” because it leads to a lot of reflection and positive changes in the people who read it.
12. The Power of Broke by Daymond John
This book is written by the well-known Shark Tank star and Fubu Founder, Daymond John. He wrote this book to explain to readers why starting a business on a tight budget can actually be a great advantage for an entrepreneur.
The author has been using the practices described in this book since he was a young entrepreneur selling home-sewn shirts in his neighborhood. On an extremely tight budget, Daymond had to create his own strategies to sell his products. His creativity led to a campaign that later became the well-known $6 billion dollar industry, FUBU. Daymond's initial hope and drive led to a level of success that no one expected.
In this book, the author shows how starting out broke can actually be an advantage because it will force you to think outside of the box. It teaches you to efficiently use your resources and forces you to authentically connect with customers and create imaginative marketing strategies.
Along with detailing his own experiences, the author also tells the stories of fellow successful entrepreneurs such as Steve Aoki, a deejay who grew a $100 business into a global sensation, and Gigi Butler, who created a cupcake empire with just debt and a dream.
Readers have found this to be a well-written business book that is more relatable and captivating than your average business book. The author is able to teach entrepreneurs at every level how to never give up on their dreams and to seek out an opportunity in every situation, whether it is positive or negative.
After reading this book, many people claim to have a new-found respect for the drive, determination, positive mentality, and passion that it takes to succeed in business.
3 Lessons from The Power of Broke
- Money isn’t the essential ingredient for a successful business venture.
- Being broke causes you to automatically look for creative solutions and resources that others may have taken for granted.
- Start a business today. It gets easier from here on out.
13. Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins
Tony Robbins is certainly a powerhouse in the “self-help” field. He has courses, books, videos and more in his arsenal, and of all these books and courses, Awaken the Giant Within has always been one of the most enduringly popular books in the entire self-help field of all time.
Sometimes, I don’t like Robbin's stuff, however. It seems to me he takes other peoples ideas and just adds hype and motivation. Much of his stuff is decent, but others do it with more depth.
What he has, undeniably, is the skill to elicit an incredible amount of motivation from his readers. Since this category is motivational books, Tony Robbins needs to be in the running for the best ever!
Robbin’s point in Awaken The Giant Within is to take charge of your life in all the important ways: emotional, physical, mental, and financial. All of these important parts dovetail together and work with each other for you to achieve greater success. Only when you are at the peak of performance in all categories can you truly be your best self.
3 Lessons from Awaken the Giant Within
- Set a baseline standard for the things you are willing to accept in life.
- Your decisions determine your destiny, not the conditions of your life.
- Happiness and success come when we constantly work on improving the quality of our lives.
14. Hustle by Neil Patel
While people often spend their days working hard at their jobs, they are often dreaming of bigger success but feel like they are fighting an uphill battle. Jobs are commonly unfulfilling, and people are disconnected from their company's mission. This book talks about breaking free from menial work and achieving more success on one's own terms by hustling.
The author argues that this can be done by making small changes and placing small bets on hobbies that will help you move forward from who you are today to someone who you are destined to become.
Three top entrepreneurs and consultants collaborate in this book to teach the reader how to view work and life through a fresh lens that revolves around uncovering projects that you love to do and finding people and opportunities to support your dream and talents.
This book offers the reader a three-part framework that includes heart, head, and habits. It teaches the reader how to redefine “hustling” as the best path to success by owning your own dreams, creating your own luck, developing your potential, and staying true to yourself.
Readers enjoy this book because it goes beyond a normal inspirational career guide and aims to change the way people work and live to teach people how to allow themselves to succeed in our ambivalent world. This book is written to appeal to entrepreneurs with a “go get 'em” attitude. While many enjoy the author's choice of language, others prefer a more analytical approach to creating one's own success.
This motivational book is written very sincerely any many will gain from Neil's particular approach to accomplishing their goals. If you have read previous books written by this author and have enjoyed the style, this book will certainly not disappoint.
3 Lessons from Hustle
- People you interact with provide opportunities for success.
- Remember ABC (always be collaborating).
- Momentum = luck.
15. The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
This international bestseller has helped people worldwide achieve fulfillment in their lives through a message of faith and inspiration. This book was written to help people achieve happiness and satisfaction in their lives while also believing that their lives are worthwhile. The author talks about the power of faith in one's life and offers the reader practical techniques to energize one's life and motivate people to carry out their hopes and ambitions.
After reading this book, the reader should be able to believe in themselves, feel determined, develop power, improve relationships, take control over their lives, and decrease the amount of time they spend worrying about things. This small book offers a lot of inspiration without adding a lot of fluff. It is very to-the-point and cleanly written. This is a great book to keep around and reference for a boost of motivation.
4 Lessons from The Power of Positive Thinking
- To accomplish more, you have to slow down.
- A positive attitude and mindset bring the best results.
- Learn how to deal with negativity.
- Stop worrying in order to create a more meaningful life.
16. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris
I have a love-hate relationship with Tim Ferris. Okay, maybe the scale is tilted more toward “love” and not really equal, but as much as I love his writing, I sometimes have reservations.
First of all, I DO read everything he writes, and I like it all. 4 Hour Workweek specifically, really put a “title” on what I was already doing. It was inspirational, motivational, and transformational for anyone trying to make a living online.
My slight problem comes from the fact that the book seems to promise a path to how to achieve a truly passive career online when, in reality, any such book would be impossible. There are too many things that change and too many variables to get everything you need to learn into a single book.
If you take it for what it is, however, a motivational book to INSPIRE you to go out and learn what you need to know, then it is unsurpassed.
As a purely motivational book, The 4-Hour Workweek can transform your life and lifestyle.
3 Lessons from The 4-Hour Workweek
- It’s not money that people are after. It’s actually what one can do with money (i.e., having a certain lifestyle) that matters to them.
- Improve areas of your life by applying the Pareto principle.
- It is not laziness when you work less. By getting rid of meaningless work, you have more time to focus on things of more importance.
17. Don't Sweat the Small Stuff and It's All Small Stuff by Richard Carlson
This classic inspirational book aims to teach the reader how to ignore the little things in life that might drive you crazy. The author uses thoughtful and insightful language to teach the reader how to calm down during a hurried and chaotic life.
The reader can learn how to put things into perspective by implementing small changes such as choosing one's battles and learning to accept imperfection. The reader will also learn about mindfulness, living in the moment, giving other people the spotlight, trusting intuitions, and living every day to its fullest.
Readers have found that this book offers gentle and supportive suggestions to help people make their lives peaceful and caring while also living with very little stress. This straightforward book is essentially an owner's manual of managing one's level of stress, and if the directions are followed, the reader is likely to be a happier and more harmonious person. Readers have noted that the strategies in this book take discipline, but they are still fun to do. Most think that once you start these strategies, they are often hard to stop.
3 Lessons from Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff and It’s All Small Stuff
- Use a positive, solution-oriented attitude for inconvenient situations. Always be on the lookout for the opportunity to improve something rather than just complaining about it.
- When you’re genuinely kind, more people gravitate toward you and are more willing to help you realize your goals.
- Remember this: “Life isn’t an emergency.” Step back and learn to prioritize. Do not tackle everything at once.
18. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
This new book is a self-help guide that is designed well around our current generation. Written by a popular blogger, this book avoids any fluff content that urges people to be “positive” and instead motivates the reader to become a better happier person.
Most are used to hearing that the power of positive thinking will lead to a happy life. This book, however, turns the tables to say that there are a lot of negative things that we have to deal with in life, but you have to learn how to effectively live with that. The author does not sugarcoat his message in this tell-it-like-it-is book. He offers a dose of raw and honest truth that is hard to come by these days. Readers have found this to be refreshing from the typical self-help book.
Manson uses jokes along with academic research to makes his argument that improving our lives takes more than just trying to see the bright side; people also need to form a thick skin. Life is not fair, and everybody does not always win, and the author advises the reader to get to know their limitations and accept them.
If people are able to recognize their fears and faults, they can confront uncomfortable truths and begin to find the courage and forgiveness that is often sought out.
The author makes it clear that he believes people need to pick their battles in life. Sure, people want to have a lot of money, but having a passion for your life and career is more important because real wealth lies in one's experience. Readers enjoy the entertaining stories in this book, along with the profane and ruthless humor.
The author's witty use of profanity and satirical comedy is also full of philosophical wisdom. A lot of Manson's inspiration comes from Nihilists and Buddhists, but he also includes philosophies that bring a more modern and agreeable perspective. This book has empowered many to gain control over their actions and reactions.
5 Lessons from The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck
- Chasing after a positive experience is actually a negative experience. Conversely, fully accepting a negative experience counts as a positive experience.
- Failures are stepping stones to growth.
- Give up the quest of trying to find yourself. You are constantly evolving, and that’s actually a good thing.
- Once you’re great at something, challenge yourself to master the next level, or something else that you have not yet tried before.
- Learn to invest your energy in meaningful endeavors.
19. The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz
This inspirational book provides the reader with useful methods to use to get the most out of a career, marriage and family life, and community. The author argues that people do not have to live in a world full of academics or have a natural talent in order to be successful. However, people do need to learn certain habits that will allow them to be successful in anything they do.
Readers have found this to be an inspiring book that teaches the reader how to live beyond their typical mundane routine. It motivates people to go outside of their comfort zone and experience new things in order to achieve the success that they have been unable to do so far in life.
3 Lessons from The Magic of Thinking Big
- Get rid of the habit of constantly making excuses. Instead, look for reasons why success can happen.
- To become successful, speak less and listen more. Ask for guidance more than giving it.
- Let setbacks be your springboard to success.
20. The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins
In this motivational book, the reader is reminded of the support they have probably had throughout their life. Parents, teachers, coaches, and friends have likely pushed the reader to be stronger than their excuses and better than your fears. But, what if the secret to success and confidence goes beyond knowing how to push yourself and accepting the support from your peers?
The author uses the science of habits, stories, and shocking historical facts to explain to the reader what the power of a “push moment” is. The reader is then provided with a quick and easy tool that can be used to achieve a greater sense of self.
According to the author, it takes just five seconds to become confident, stop procrastinating, face your fears, and be happier. While everyone has the ability to hold themselves back, it is also possible to reverse that and move forward with confidence.
The 5 Second Rule has helped people stay on tasks, get motivated in the morning, and refocus during times of distraction. It has helped people find happiness and hope in lives where those things were otherwise lost.
3 Lessons from The 5 Second Rule
- There is never going to be a “right moment” to start working on your goal. The important thing is to start doing it, regardless if you’re feeling terrified, anxious, or uncertain.
- The 5-second rule can stop your monkey brain, giving you enough time to take even the smallest action towards the fulfillment of your goal. Each time the moment comes when you instinctively know that you have to act on a goal, count down from 5 to 1, then do it. If you don’t make a move after your countdown, your brain will prevent you from accomplishing your goal.
- The only person who has the power to change your life is you.
21. The Mindfulness Journal: Daily Practices, Writing Prompts, and Reflections for Living in the Present Moment by Steve Scott and Barrie Davenport
Okay, this book is a bit of a cheat. This is a Mindfulness Journal put together by myself and Barrie, my sometimes writing partner.
We have not written the most motivational book for you here. It is not even really a “book.” But if you use this book, YOU WILL likely create your own motivational resource that just can’t be beaten.
This Mindfulness Journal is not a “traditional” book. It is a journal filled with prompts for YOU to fill out.
When it comes to motivation and encouragement, who can really beat your own self-talk, after all.
TMJ gives you a forum and prompts to share your own thoughts and ideas and may, in the long run, be far more motivational than most books you will find.
3 Lessons from The Mindfulness Journal
- To be truly at peace, strive to live in the present moment.
- Mindfulness brings you closer to self-discovery.
- Self-awareness brings a sense of inner happiness.
22. Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis
In this book, Rachel Hollis invites women to find their own voices, realize their goals, and live life according to their terms.
Sound like a tall order? Well, according to Hollis, a lot of women live their lives pleasing other people—and this means putting their dreams aside in order to fulfill other people’s expectations.
In this book, Hollis discusses the excuses women have to let go of in order to achieve their goals. These include:
She then presents actionable steps in order to overcome these stereotypes. Her method includes changing one’s behavior and developing new skills such as planning, positivity, and persistence.
Delivered in a straightforward manner, Girl, Stop Apologizing is like being counseled by your best friend who wants nothing but the best for you.
3 Lessons from Girl, Stop Apologizing
- Do not apologize for taking action in order to make your dreams a reality.
- Yes, you have time to realize your dreams, and you’re capable of realizing them.
- Surround yourself with people who help you reach your goals.
23. Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo
Marie Forleo offers a new paradigm for looking at and overcoming obstacles in life. This book tells you that you can figure out everything in life.
You can figure out how to form and strengthen relationships. Success is achievable. And it’s possible to find lasting happiness.
The book reveals the steps you can take to figure out and make it through any obstacle you’re facing. It shows you how to overcome imposter syndrome. You will also learn how to manage your time and money better. Forleo shows you how to reach your goals.
4 Lessons from Everything is Figureoutable
- Develop a growth mindset.
- Stop striving for perfection. Strive for progress instead.
- Let your fears become your ally and propel you to productivity and creativity.
- Ignore the negative self-talk that you’re not ready yet. Dive right into action.
24. Becoming by Michelle Obama
This book provides a glimpse into Michelle Obama’s world and the experiences that shaped her into one of the most powerful women in America today.
Obama reminisces about her life as a young girl on Chicago’s South Side. She also shares childhood experiences that reveal her developing personality. Through various experiences, such as her college years at Princeton and her job as an attorney, readers can catch glimpses of her personality and the mindset that she possesses.
Obama shares both amusing and emotional anecdotes. Some of these are about:
This memoir demonstrates what happens when someone decides to follow a particular path in life. It reminds readers of the importance of having the right mentors to guide you forward.
The book also reveals the author’s different roles as a daughter, wife, mother, businesswoman, and lawyer. It inspires readers to find their own voices and walk their paths to their greatest potential.
3 Lessons from Becoming
- Holding a position of power does not make a person always right.
- Go for your goals, no matter if they seem out of reach.
- Being overly concerned about other people’s opinions could cost you your happiness.
25. Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins
This book tells the story of a man who overcame poverty and physical abuse to become one of the world’s best athletes and an iconic figure in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Goggins is a living example that it is possible to push through painful experiences and fears in order to achieve great things. He discusses the fact that he used to be overweight and suffered from depression. Through hard work, the right mindset, and self-discipline, he was able to overcome these personal challenges and became the only person to complete training in the special forces units of three branches of the US Armed Forces:
His achievements were recognized by Outside Magazine, which named him “The Fittest Man in America.”
David Goggins’ story is an inspiration of how you can let go of the past in order to live a life of greatness.
5 Lessons from Can’t Hurt Me
- A sense of purpose takes you farther than motivation can.
- The only person you’re in competition with is yourself. Today, strive to be a better version of you.
- Surround yourself with people who have a winner mentality.
- Call out your own shortcomings in order to make real improvements in your life.
- Make it a point to experience some pain and discomfort in different areas of your life in order to train yourself to be tougher.
26. Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
This book was published in 2018, and is the precursor to Girl, Stop Apologizing. It earns a spot in this post for exposing the lies that most women believe and demonstrating how to get past them in order to live life fully and joyfully.
Hollis discusses one lie she was made to believe in each chapter. She shares stories from her own life, and these stories are relatable and usually amusing. She also provides actionable steps for overcoming the lies that women tell themselves.
Some of the lies that Hollis shares in the book are:
The key takeaway from the book is that we are the only ones responsible for the quality of our own lives.
3 Lessons from Girl, Wash Your Face
- Only accept what you truly deserve.
- Never allow others’ opinions to determine your worth.
- Develop the habit of keeping the promises you’ve made to yourself.
27. Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
In this book, Sheryl Sandberg talks about when her family suffered a major loss and traumatic experience: the sudden death of her husband.
Sandberg co-authors this book with Adam Grant, an expert on human resilience. Their collaboration gives readers something to help them find the deeper meaning of their experience of pain, sorrow, anger. Through the book, readers learn that human beings have the capacity to grow, to begin the business of living again, and even to help others transcend their pain.
The authors reassure their readers that, even when they experience traumatic events, they will recover.
Here is a notable quote about resilience from the first chapter of the book:
“…[C]hildren and adults recover more quickly when they realize that hardships aren’t entirely their fault, don’t affect every aspect of their lives, and won’t follow them everywhere forever.”
3 Lessons from Option B
- Things happen that are beyond our control. How we respond to these setbacks is essential.
- Accept that failure happens. It is a very important learning tool.
- We can become more resilient by developing the habit of gratitude in the face of negative experiences.
28. Crushing It! by Gary Vaynerchuk
Looking for something to help your business reach greater heights? Gary Vaynerchuk’s book might be just what you need.
In this book, you’ll learn how to harness the potential power of social media platforms for driving your success in business. Vaynerchuk guides you in developing your personal brand, regardless of your business or career.
However, it isn’t simply Vaynerchuk’s goal for readers to amass riches by applying the tips and strategies he puts forward in this book. Rather, he aims to help them achieve the lives they’ve always dreamed of, to live them on their own terms, and to use social media in order to get there.
The book is divided into two parts:
In Part 1, you’ll learn how to develop the correct mindset for developing your personal brand and making it a success.
Part 2 discusses how each social media platform can be utilized as a launching pad for your personal brand. Vaynerchuk gives tons of useful information on this. For instance, he details what type of content works best for a specific platform in order to grow your brand and cash in on it.
4 Lessons from Crushing It!
- Technology always gets the upper hand. Be open enough to embrace it.
- Depth is more important than breadth when it comes to creating content.
- Keep your content authentic.
- If you want to profit from doing what you love, be ready to transform yourself into a brand.
29. Fail Until You Don’t by Bobby Bones
In this book, the youngest National Radio Hall of Fame inductee, Bobby Bones, discusses how failure helps people grow.
Bones, along with several of his celebrity friends, share their personal stories of failure. Their aim is for readers to take inspiration from these stories and realize that failure is what success is born out of.
Through this book, readers will learn to appreciate their own shortcomings. In keeping with Bones’ self-effacing humor, the book has amusing anecdotes, endearing it more to the audience.
The book is divided into three parts, each bearing the keyword of Bones’ mantra: Fight, grind, and repeat.
If you need that push to get going again, this book’s for you.
3 Lessons from Fail Until You Don’t
- We are constantly learning.
- We all have what it takes to succeed.
- Your biggest misses are teaching you how to make the biggest wins in your life.
30. Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven (Ret.)
This book was built upon the core principles taken from Admiral McRaven’s commencement speech to the University of Texas at Austin’s graduating class of 2014. Within the book are lessons from McRaven’s experiences, as well as of others who have served in the military.
You’ll read about the 10 essential lessons that McRaven learned during nearly four decades as a Navy SEAL.
Each of the chapters discusses a life lesson, including:
3 Lessons from Make Your Bed
- Begin the day by accomplishing a task that creates momentum for more completed tasks.
- There is no such thing as perfection.
- Face your challenges without fear.
31. Gmorning, Gnight! by Lin-Manuel Miranda
This is a compilation of Miranda’s poems and sayings.
Over the years, followers were delighted and motivated by Miranda’s uplifting and original short poems that appeared on his Twitter feed twice a day.
Now compiled in a book and illustrated by Jonny Sun, these words can reach more people and continue to inspire.
Miranda’s writing and Sun’s illustrations are the perfect antidote to those moments when you’re feeling anxious, unappreciated, or discouraged.
Here’s an excerpt from the book, which may help you face whatever lies ahead today:
Your smile is
3 Lessons from Gmorning, Gnight!
- You deserve happiness.
- Kindness uplifts and inspires.
- Gratitude can be found everywhere.
Final Thoughts on Motivational Books for Personal Development
When you choose to read any or all of the motivational books we have included on this list, you will find that it can make a significant difference in how you see yourself and how you view the world around you.
It helps you see things in a much more positive light and inspires you to combat any of your limitations while choosing to make those better choices and taking more positive actions.
What can motivational books do for you, you ask? They can help inspire creativity when it is needed most, help you take control of your life, and provide you with practical guidance so you can work on achieving your personal and professional goals which ultimately lead to success.
Motivational books can also help change the way we think. So, why not take advantage of the opportunities we have presented on this list? Choose whatever inspires you the most.
Also, if you'd like to discover more books that you can check out, then I suggest you check out some of the lists we've compiled:
Like This Post?!
Have you read many of these self-help books? Do you agree with the book choices? Or disagree with any of the books on success and motivation chosen for this list?
Do you feel there are any other more specific motivational books that should be on this list? Did a specific motivational book inspire you to do something awesome?
Please share your thoughts on these (and other) motivational books in the comments below.
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