Type the words “top books related to personal development” into a search engine and you’ll get approximately 22.8 million results.
That incredible figure tells an interesting story. Many people are searching for the formula to success, personal fulfillment, and happiness. And scores of authors are ready to provide their thoughts for a viable solution.
Fall is often seen as a transitional season. The warmth and carefree fun of summer starts to cool down as we begin to draw ourselves inward in preparation for winter. As part of this transition, we also often start to look toward our goals for the upcoming year and how we can achieve them. There are many personal growth books that offer to help you improve yourself—from your intimate relationships to your physical health to your financial acumen.
But the truth is that none of these areas of life can improve until you invest in your own personal growth. How can you expect to improve your relationships until you improve yourself? With that in mind, here are some personal growth books to consider as your first start to transitioning to a new and improved you for the coming year.
1. Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
The authors, who teach a course on design at Stanford University, take a difference approach to problem solving. Creative and inspirational, this book encourages readers to think like a designer, ask questions, and imagine the life you seek.
2. When Nobody Was Watching: My Hard Fought Journey to the Top of the Soccer World by Carli Lloyd and Wayne Coffey
In 2015, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team won its first FIFA Championship in 16 years. Carli Lloyd was a key player in that win, but was not always at the top of her game. This book takes readers through her journey from when she nearly quit the game to the pinnacle of her career. Lacking “fitness, mental toughness, and character,” she worked hard to overcome these obstacles and relates her efforts in this book.
3. My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Who could be better qualified to offer reasonable and well-thought out advice for success than long-time Supreme Court judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg? She provides 300 pages of wisdom that cover a range of topics. From personal experience as a woman in a predominantly male profession to explorations of historical events, she will inspire readers and serve as a prime example of great leadership.
4. Lean In: Work, Women and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
This book explores the path to leadership positions and how to achieve them. As chief operating officer at Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg has amassed a tremendous amount of professional experience. She draws on that experience and includes research, statistics, career knowledge, and personal anecdotes to offer a blueprint for readers to navigate the road to success.
5. Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in Your Mind by Joyce Meyer.
Self-doubt, confusion, and anxiety have plagued all of us at one time or another. Joyce Meyer provides solutions to obliterate negative thinking and keep readers on the track to emotional healing, using her personal life as a case study.
6. The Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams by Randy Pausch
In spite of its title, this book focuses on living life to the fullest. Faced with his impending death, Randy Pausch reflects on “the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment.” Be prepared for an inspirational and emotional read.
7. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Napoleon Hill conveys the experiences of 500 very wealthy men who rose from rags to riches and how they accomplished their goals. Dubbed “the philosophy of moneymaking,” this book offers a step-by-step system that promises to lead to financial security.
8. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use it For Life by Twyla Tharp
This well known choreographer imparts lessons from her own life for fostering and growing personal creativity. She encourages preparation, effort, and willingness to “make creativity a habit” to reach any goal. Anecdotes and exercises are sprinkled throughout these pages and serve as an inspirational guidebook.
9. See Jane Will: The RIMM Report on How 1,000 Girls Became Successful Women by Dr. Sylvia Rimm
This book is the result of extensive research by child psychologist Sylvia Rimm into how women become successful. She begins her exploration in childhood and progresses through all stages of life to learn what constitutes a solid foundation for living up to your abilities. Seventeen disparate profiles offer a roadmap that readers can apply to a variety of situations and life circumstances.
10. The Purpose of Your Life: Finding Your Place in the World Using Synchronicity, Intuition, and Uncommon Sense by Carol Adrienne
Everyone has a purpose in life, according to Carol Adrienne, and in this book, she presents the principles for finding your particular place and then offers techniques to reach it. She cautions against preoccupation with “negative thoughts about our own abilities, or revenge thoughts about others, or with anything else that serves ourselves.” Moving beyond these thoughts can bring about greater realization of who we are and how we are all uniquely positioned to lead a life of purpose.
11. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
No list of inspirational books would be complete without this title. For more than a quarter century, the advice within these pages has inspired everyone from parents and teachers to politicians and industry leaders. Timeless lessons that include teachings from philosophers, writers, and other learned figures clearly communicate difficult concepts and serve as a guiding light for readers striving to improve their lives.
12. The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin
This book is an extension of the Four Tendencies quiz, which is used to reveal people’s habits and how they can reflect personality tendencies and the type of work or organizational environment in which they will best thrive. In the quiz and book, author Gretchen Rubin identifies the four tendencies as personality types by how they fit into a team or organization: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels.
Each personality type wants a different thing from the team. Upholders want to know what needs to be done to accomplish a goal or project. Questioners want to know why it needs to be accomplished. Obligers want accountability for the goal or project. Finally, Rebels want the freedom to work on the project as they best see fit. The book expands on the quiz to help you understand how your tendency can help you determine which type of practice you may be best suited to join, for example, or if you would rather strike out on your own with a solo practice.
13. Finish by Jon Acuff
If you are like many other people, you are probably great at setting goals and starting out on reaching them, but somewhere along the way, you end up abandoning them. Whether it’s losing weight or finally writing that novel, we are all great on beginning these things, but we seem to never actually complete them. If you are ready to break this habit, this book might just be what you need to motivate you to finally finish what you started.
Author Jon Acuff explains that the reason we rarely finish what we start is because we’ve been socialized to believe that we cannot actually achieve our goal unless we are miserable. If we want to lose weight or get in better shape, we tell ourselves that we absolutely must get up at 5 a.m. every single day to run three miles before going to work. Every time that alarm clock goes off at 5 a.m., we resent having to run even more. Eventually, we abandon running altogether.
Instead, Acuff urges readers to make the process of achieving the goal more fun. Perhaps a weekend fitness boot camp or simply doing some fancy dance moves in the privacy of your own living room might be more fun than being up at the crack of dawn to lace on your running shoes. After all, why would you want to stop doing something fun? This might even be a good team building exercise for your office employees.
14. The Code of Trust by Robin Dreeke
Have you ever felt as though a coworker or collaborator speaks an entirely different language than yours? According to Robin Dreeke, a former head of an FBI behavioral analysis unit and co-author of The Code of Trust, you may be more onto the truth than you know.
In this book, he outlines that people all have different ways of communicating, depending on if they prefer direct or indirect communication, as well as if they are more people- or task-oriented. The trick is not so much to understand how you prefer to communicate, but how the people with whom you interact prefer to communicate. Once you can do that, you will begin to build the sort of trust necessary to be able to really communicate with others.
Once the holiday season gets into full swing, there is often little time for yourself, between parties and visiting with relatives. When you do have some free time, curling up with some hot tea and one of these personal improvement books can help set you on the right path for the coming year.