If you like to dream big, chances are good you’ve experienced the motivational slump that makes progress feel like a slog through molasses in December.
Whether your goal is to run a marathon, optimize your career, or sell everything and pursue self-sufficiency in a forest, you’re probably going to need some help to get there. These books offer advice that can help anyone–and, unlike many “motivational” books published in the last few years, they go light on the cheese.
Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins
I thought I’d solved a problem when really I was creating new ones by taking the path of least resistance.
David Goggins started out as a 300-pound African American who got scoffed out of a Navy recruiter’s office as a young adult. He went on to lose the weight, become a Navy SEAL, unlock incredible levels of self-discipline, and inspire millions to become untouchable. Can’t Hurt Me is his autobiography, and it’s a fun read. Skip this one if you’re going to be turned off by f-bombs dropped on practically every page.
Atomic Habits by James Clear
You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.
Few things are more motivational than having a concrete plan to become the person you want to be. Atomic Habits is all about building a habit system that supports the life you want. In it, James Clear combines decades of research on human behavior and habit development to offer step-by-step tips on building desirable habits and dropping the ones that aren’t serving you.
Essentialism by Greg Mckeown
The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many.
Not happy with how cluttered your home and your calendar are these days? Essentialism might be the nudge of motivation you need to streamline. In Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, McKeown describes his journey to cut the clutter from his life, home, and career, and he offers practical steps to help you do the same.
You are a Badass by Jenn Sincero
We are all perfect in our own, magnificent, fucked-up ways. Laugh at yourself. Love yourself and others. Rejoice in the cosmic ridiculousness.
This book definitely isn’t for everyone; it’s a bit too new-agey for some, and the author comes off as a bit too privileged for others. But if you’re in the market for a book-length pep talk capable of making you feel ballsy enough to take on your biggest dreams, you might have hit the jackpot.
Make Your Bed by William H. McRaven
Without pushing your limits, without occasionally sliding down the rope headfirst, without daring greatly, you will never know what is truly possible in your life.
Written by a retired Admiral in the U.S. Navy, Make Your Bed has chapter-by-chapter advice on making changes that can revamp your attitude. Feel unmotivated and undisciplined? Make Your Bed is a cross between a pep-talk and a swift kick in the pants, so whichever you need most in the moment, you’re likely to find here–along with memorable anecdotes from McRaven’s time as a Navy SEAL.
Grab one of these reads when your motivation is flagging, and you’ll be back on your feet in no time!