Success can often seem elusive or beyond your capabilities. If you’re struggling to achieve your goals and dreams, it can be a great help to know others have walked this path before, found a way to succeed—and then generously shared what they learned so others can benefit. Many have documented their journeys in helpful books that can give you support to push yourself ahead. Check out these 15 inspirational and motivational books that can help you be successful in any endeavor you choose.
First published in 1990, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change is considered by many to be one of the most inspiring and impactful books about personal success ever written. The book aims to fundamentally change how you perceive and interpret the world, balancing personal and professional effectiveness to help you achieve success in all aspects of your life. There’s a reason this book is a classic and is still a bestseller.
Author James Clear is an internationally renowned expert on the topic of habit formation. In this book, he breaks down what things you can do—large and small—to develop good habits and break bad habits. The techniques he describes have a wide variety of applications, from work to sports to achieving personal goals.
Author Rachel Hollis is the founder of a multimillion-dollar media company, but she’s also someone who understands the unique pressures faced by women (whether at home or work), and the pressures women put on themselves. Here she identifies self-defeating behaviors and thought patterns and provides recommendations for overcoming them.
Brené Brown, PhD and research professor at the University of Houston, has written a thought-provoking book about what leadership really is—and what it isn’t—as well as what it takes to be a successful leader. She’s compiled her experiences consulting for organizations ranging from small startups and family businesses to nonprofits and Fortune 50 companies. Her work has given her considerable insight, much of which may surprise you.
Founder of the enormously successful investment firm Bridgewater Associates, Ray Dalio (referred to as the “Steve Jobs of investing”) has written a book that details what he’s learned on his journey from ordinary middle-class kid to high-flying executive. He’s found ways for individuals and organizations to more effectively make decisions, approach challenges, and build strong teams.
This book was named as one of Bill Gates’ top five favorite books the year it was published. This memoir of starting a company to import Japanese running shoes with just a $50 loan from his father has plenty of highs and lows. Knight makes clear that the path to success is not necessarily straight and steady, but one requiring determination, perseverance, and a willingness to learn from setbacks.
The author of the bestseller Eat, Pray, Love returned with this book, a joyous textbook on how to live a fulfilling, creative life. Her advice is relevant to anyone looking to make art, find new ways to handle work challenges, set out to achieve a long-time dream, or face up to what’s stopping them from succeeding.
This bestselling book was recently updated and expanded. Rizzo is determined to help people become resilient. The book discusses resiliency, cultivating a positive mentality, and how to reignite passion for personal and professional goals. Each chapter includes action items and reflection questions to help readers fully absorb his messages.
A former NFL player for the Houston Oilers and the San Francisco 49ers, Bo Eason retired from football and became an actor, playwright, speaker, and leadership coach who consults with Fortune 500 companies. He shares some of the secrets of his success in this book, as well as strategies for applying effective tools and techniques to whatever your personal or professional goals may be.
Judi Holler’s book is like having a personal coach holding your hand and encouraging you to face and overcome the fears that are keeping you from succeeding. A major focus is on helping people shut down the self-doubt that can plague them into inaction or into not believing in themselves.
The enormously successful creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder had a bit of a secret: In spite of being a powerful Hollywood force, she was an intense introvert who had panic attacks at the thought of doing media interviews. Her defense mechanism was simply to say no to any invitations that scared her. But when her sister challenged her, Shonda Rhimes took a long hard look at how she was living her life and decided to spend a year saying yes. It was a transformative year, and she shares the wealth of knowledge she gained, as well as tips for anyone who recognizes themselves in her struggles.
The digital age we live in is just one giant distraction that can trap the most focused of people. Nir Eyal is a former Stanford lecturer and behavioral design expert who has studied the hidden psychology behind distraction. He understands the answer is not as simple as “do away with your devices.” In this book, he explains what causes distraction, how to keep it from taking over your work and personal life, and, for parents, how to raise indistractable children.
In order to succeed in almost any aspect of life, especially professionally, at some point it’s necessary to develop and maintain human connections. For many people, that’s difficult, whether due to introversion or social anxiety. Author Brian Miller grew up with the latter and found he needed to find ways to manage and cope. He succeeded, and now he travels the world as a motivational speaker with a deceptively simple approach to developing those necessary people skills.
Author Marie Forleo’s mother once told her, “Nothing in life is that complicated. You can do whatever you set your mind to if you roll up your sleeves. Everything is figureoutable.” That’s her message in this book: Learn how to retrain your brain when faced with setbacks, criticism, and a raging case of imposter syndrome.
Coach Mike Bayer has worked with thousands of people—from business executives to pop stars to everyday people—helping them figure out their best life with his Seven SPHERES of Life: Social, Personal, Health, Education, Relationships, Employment, and Spiritual Development. Now he’s put his coaching into this book with advice, techniques for change, and quizzes and questionnaires to help you focus on what’s important to you.
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