When I’m looking for a personal development book, I want a book that inspires me without beating me over the head with a message, or getting too “fluffy” with miracle success stories and fairytale endings. What I do love is when authors provide personal testimonials and relatable stories to validate the lessons they are preaching. I’ve put together a list of five books that cover all the bases; they are motivational, inspiring, and honest.
These five books have changed the way I view my work, my personal life, and especially the way in which I view myself. They’ve helped me achieve goals I once thought unattainable, like landing a job at an awesome start-up, pursuing training to become a certified yoga instructor, and planning a two month trip to a South American country. I hope these books light a fire under your ass, and inspire you to go out and find whatever it is you’re looking for!
1. The Slight Edge
Written by Jeff Olson
WHY IT’S AWESOME: This was the first personal development book I ever read. It’s a great book to start with because it instills the idea that you can use small, daily tasks to achieve big goals. If you are on the fence about diving into the world of personal development, this is a great way to get your feet wet. It’s a fast read and Olson uses great metaphors to convey his powerful theme. Olson also writes with a down to earth and truthful tone; his main point is so simple that you'll be left wondering why you didn't apply it earlier in life. This book inspired me to move on to read the other four books listed here (and many more). The many underdog tales discussed in the book are super relatable, and seriously (as if I haven’t said this enough) inspiring.
“The Slight Edge is a way of thinking, a way of processing information that enables you to make the daily choices that will lead you to the success and happiness you desire.”
2. The Happiness of Pursuit
Written by Chris Guillebeau
WHY IT’S AWESOME: If you’re a born adventurer or aspiring to sprinkle some adventure into your life, this is the book for you! Chris has interviewed hundreds of people who have embarked on their own adventures known as “quests”. Not all quests involve travel, but all are centered around people's goals, hopes, and ambitions. It’s basically just about setting a goal to do the one thing you’ve had in the back of your mind for years. From visiting every country in the world, to running over 300 marathons, this book shares a collection of personal quests that will motivate you to create your own.
“A book that challenges each of us to take control – to make our lives be about something while at the same time remaining clear-eyed about the commitment.”
3. The Magic of Thinking Big
Written by David Schwartz
WHY IT’S AWESOME: There is no better teacher of proper goal setting than David Schwartz. He teaches you the value and effectiveness of setting your goals high. This is not to be confused with setting unattainable or unrealistic goals, however, Schwartz prompts readers to question their idea of realism by pointing out the most successful people on earth and goals from which they began their careers. Hint: They weren’t itty-bitty goals… they were BIG! In this book, you’ll learn to think like a leader, to think more positively, and to use goals to help you grow.
“The Magic of Thinking Big gives you useful methods, not empty promises. Dr. Schwartz presents a carefully designed program for getting the most out of your job, your marriage and family life, and your community. He proves that you don’t need to be an intellectual or have innate talent to attain great success and satisfaction—but you do need to learn and understand the habit of thinking and behaving in ways that will get you there.”
4. The 4-Hour Workweek
Written by Tim Ferriss
WHY IT’S AWESOME: You might have heard rumors that all this book teaches readers is how to slack off and literally only do four hours of work each week. As all Tim Ferriss fans know, this is book is about the exact opposite. Ferriss instructs readers how they can alter their lifestyle to be more productive and effective human beings. He acts a human guinea pig to experiment in all areas of life and will get you thinking about why you do the things you do. This book is loaded with information so I won’t go too far into the details or what it entails, but know that Ferriss writes in clear and honest terms about the realms of business, efficiency, and self-improvement. You can read one of my all-time favorite excerpts from the book in this blog post.
“Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan—there is no need to wait and every reason not to. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, high-end world travel, monthly five-figure income with zero management, or just living more and working less, this book is the blueprint.”
5. Think & Grow Rich
Written by Napolean Hll
WHY IT’S AWESOME: This book could be known as the father of all personal development books. It has every answer to every question you could ever ask about success, especially in the realm of business. It sort of reminds me “How To Win Friends And Influence People” (which I also seriously recommend). There are a few differences between these two books, but the major difference I’d say is the sheer density and volume of TAGR. While this book is filled with a great deal of information, it can be overwhelming at times. There are stretches of the book that wouldn’t be relatable unless you were the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. However, despite this, I would strongly you suggest you pop your personal development cherry with one of the books listed above, and come back to this one when you have your game face on! It’s well worth the read!!
“Think and Grow Rich has been called the "Granddaddy of All Motivational Literature." It was the first book to boldly ask, "What makes a winner?" The man who asked and listened for the answer, Napoleon Hill, is now counted in the top ranks of the world's winners himself.”
Is there a book that took you to a whole new level of thinking? Did it change the way you approach your day to day? Maybe it made a lasting impression on you just by the way it made you feel. Share your favorite books, articles, or blog posts in the comments below! Your favorite book might change someone else’s life for the better…