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14 Best Motivational Books to Read When You’re In a Rut

Life. It can sometimes be overwhelming. That’s why we all need a little help now and then to stay on track. Luckily, many books are dedicated to helping people manage their lives and make the most out of every day. But which are the ones worth reading?

This article lists some of the best motivational books that offer advice on how to live an exceptional life. From focusing on the process instead of the goal to pushing through the fear and resistance, you may feel — these books on motivation will show how to reach your highest potential and achieve success.

Find all the listed books on the Headway app for easy access to 15-minute book summaries, daily insights, and more to give you that bit of daily motivation. Let’s get started!

Key points:

  • There are countless motivational books out there, and every single one offers a different approach to achieving success.

  • Many authors consider habits to be a foundational element of productive behavior.

  • Some books focus on breaking through blocks of resistance, while others emphasize the importance of staying focused and loving the process.

  • The authors behind top motivational books range in experience from entrepreneurs to writers and life coaches.

  • Top books on motivation worth reading include ‘Do the Work’ by Steven Pressfield, ‘Chop Wood, Carry Water’ by Joshua Medcalf, ‘The 10X Rule’ by Grant Cardone, and ‘Maximum Achievement’ by Brian Tracy.

14 best motivational books worth reading 

1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Steven R. Covey

This classic bestseller is one of the most influential books ever written on personal development. Covey’s book focuses on developing life-changing habits and principles to help you in all aspects of life, from personal relationships to business matters. It has been praised for its straightforward and easy-to-follow approach to improving yourself and your life.

This book is a common addition to recommendation lists, from those geared towards aspiring leaders and managers to those looking to make changes in their everyday lives. It’s just as valuable for motivational reading — ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ can help you find focus and clarity in your life and spark new ideas for overcoming obstacles.

2. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport

It isn’t hard to let your ambitions fall by the wayside in today’s busy world. People are constantly bombarded with notifications, social media messages, and calls — getting lost in a sea of obligations and responsibilities is virtually inevitable. Addressing the problem of digital overload and providing ways to break away from the world’s noise, Cal Newport offers ‘Digital Minimalism’ as a way of living with intention and focusing on what truly matters.

This is one of the best motivational books for anyone looking to quell distractions, prioritize meaningful activities, and stay motivated throughout life’s turbulence.

3. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

There’s no better time than the present to take control of your life and make the most out of it. ‘The Power of Now’ draws attention to the importance of being mindful and aware in the present moment and how that can help you tap into inner peace and contentment. Full of insights and wisdom, this book will teach you the art of living in the moment — something that can be difficult to do in a world of constant distraction and chaos.

‘The Power of Now’ was written by world-renowned spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle, who brings his unique insights to readers in a way that is both accessible and inspiring. It was released in 1997 and became a number-one New York Times bestseller.

4. The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal

 Have you ever been told that the only thing standing in the way of your goals is you? That’s the premise of Kelly McGonigal’s book, ‘The Willpower Instinct,’ which delves into the idea that we all possess an inner drive to succeed — but that we must channel that drive in the right way. 

McGonigal identifies a three-faceted conception of willpower: the “I won’t” power, the “I will” power, and the “I want” power. She explains how these sources of willpower can be accessed and utilized so that readers can learn to take control of their lives and reach their goals.

5. The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

Life can be overwhelming. Often to the point where getting started with anything is difficult. ‘The ONE Thing’ by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan is the perfect book for this scenario — it encourages readers to focus on one goal at a time to achieve greater success and get more done.

Keller and Papasan explain their theory of the “domino effect” — if you knock one domino down, it will, in turn, knock down another one, and so on. This book teaches readers to identify their most important goal and work methodically towards it without getting bogged down by other tasks or obligations.

It is an inspiring read for anyone who wants to become more productive and efficient. Reading ‘The ONE Thing’ can help everyone, from entrepreneurs to students, organize their lives, reach their goals, and make their dreams come true.

6. Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything by BJ Fogg

Sometimes, the thought of doing something alone is enough to make us want to put it off. After all, so many things are going on in life — why add one more task to the plate?

BJ Fogg’s ‘Tiny Habits’ provides an answer to this dilemma. By breaking down big goals into small and manageable chunks, Fogg explains how to create new habits that will stick with you and help you reach your goals.

Filled with scientific insights on habit formation and Fogg’s personal experiences as a Stanford behavioral scientist, ‘Tiny Habits’ guides you on how to stick with your new habits and build strong foundations for success. It specifically points to three factors as the key to doing this: motivation, ability, and prompt.

7. How to Stop Procrastinating: A Simple Guide to Mastering Difficult Tasks and Breaking the Procrastination Habit by Steve Scott

Procrastination is an enemy of success. It can keep us from achieving our goals and lead us down a path of unfulfilled potential. But the good news is that we can overcome it.

Steve Scott’s book, ‘How to Stop Procrastinating,’ provides practical advice on overcoming this habit and getting back on track. It identifies the root causes of procrastination and provides step-by-step strategies to help readers build new habits that will lead to success.

Scott also explains the power of planning and how this can help us focus on tasks effectively, even in the face of distractions. Following his advice, readers can learn to take control of their lives and progress toward achieving their goals.

8. Exceptional: Build Your Personal Highlight Reel and Unlock Your Potential by Daniel M. Cable

A lack of motivation in life can be due to many things, but it often has something to do with the sense that nothing has been achieved. ‘Exceptional’ by Daniel M. Cable is a great book for anyone struggling with this. 

This book emphasizes the importance of celebrating successes, no matter how small. Cable explains that we need to acknowledge and recognize our progress to stay motivated and keep working towards our goals. 

He offers a simple three-step process to help readers keep track of their successes and build a ‘highlight reel’ — a visual collection of past accomplishments. This can help them to stay motivated, reach their goals and unlock their potential. As a London Business School professor, Cable’s advice is valuable and easy to follow.

9. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

Whether you’re talking about a lack of motivation or anything else in life, understanding a problem is the first step to solving it. Daniel H. Pink’s ‘Drive’ provides readers with vital insights into the science of motivation.

In this book, Pink explores the latest research on motivation and explains that the carrot-and-stick approach is not always the most effective way to motivate people. He argues that true motivation comes from intrinsic rewards such as autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

While Pink’s insights are targeted primarily at managers and employers, they can also be applied to the individual level. Anyone can use his many ideas to increase motivation and reach their goals.   

10. The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life by Robin Sharma

In need of a reason to get up in the morning? What about membership to an exclusive club? That’s what Robin Sharma is offering in ‘The 5 AM Club’.

This book is a powerful reminder of the importance of rising early and getting the most out of your day. It encourages readers to use the early morning hours for personal development and offers strategies for developing new habits, focusing on meaningful activities, and ultimately becoming more successful

Sharma’s message is simple but powerful: early rising  allows you to take control of your time and focus on the important things in life while also helping ward off what he calls “the collective de-professionalization of business.”

11. Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way by Steven Pressfield

The majority of us are familiar with the phrase self-sabotage.’ It’s a form of resistance that stops us from achieving our goals and realizing our full potential.

In this book, bestselling author Steven Pressfield explains how to break through the blocks of resistance preventing us from taking action. He provides practical tips and exercises to help readers recognize their self-sabotaging behaviors and focus their energy instead on the tasks that need to be done. A manifesto, ‘Do the Work,’ was inspired by Pressfield’s journey as a writer and offers a simple but effective approach to overcoming resistance and achieving success.

This book teaches readers to take control of their lives, push through the fear and resistance they may feel, and stay focused on their goals. It will enable them to unlock their full potential and lead exceptional lives.

12. Chop Wood, Carry Water: How To Fall In Love With The Process Of Becoming Great by Joshua Medcalf

The best way to achieve success is to become obsessed with the process of getting there.

In his book, ‘Chop Wood Carry Water,’ Joshua Medcalf uses ancient Eastern wisdom and inspirational stories to explore the importance of staying focused on the task at hand. He argues that true greatness is found in the process, not the goal.

The book follows the story of John, a young boy who dreams of becoming a samurai archer. His journey reveals how dedication to the process is the true path to success, no matter how mundane. By highlighting the importance of hard work, humility, and focus, ‘Chop Wood Carry Water’ is an invaluable guide for anyone who wants to reach their highest potential.

The message of this book is clear: if you want to be successful, you must learn to love the process. With Medcalf’s insightful guidance, readers can take the first steps towards mastering their journey and achieving greatness.

13. The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure by Grant Cardone

This book is for you if you’re looking for straightforward, black-and-white guidance on becoming more motivated. Written by accomplished entrepreneur Grant Cardone, ‘The 10X Rule’ is a no-nonsense read that presents an unbeatable formula for success. 

Cardone states that in order to reach our goals, we must set them ten times higher than we thought. He explains that this approach is not just achievable but necessary to stay ahead of the competition.

The book also includes straightforward advice on building habits to help us achieve our goals. It emphasizes the importance of taking action, making mistakes, and learning from them — essential assets to any successful person.

14. Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy

Brian Tracy’s ‘Maximum Achievement’ is an authoritative guide to achieving success in life. It outlines how to set and achieve ambitious goals, as well as how to overcome fear and doubt.

The book encourages readers to carefully plan and organize their lives to unlock their true potential. It also stresses the importance of having a positive attitude and cultivating self-discipline.

No time to read? Try Headway!

Finding the motivation to take action on important parts of your life can be challenging enough. Committing to reading a whole book about it? That’s a whole other ballgame.

Try Headway if you’re looking for an easier, quicker way to get the insight you need. Headway is a mobile app that provides bite-sized, personalized summaries of the world’s most popular business, self-help, and personal growth books. The app also comes with fun challenges, streaks, and more to get you motivated. Plus, you can choose whether you want to read or listen to book summaries. Turn your motivation into action and download the app today!

Wrapping things up

Finding the motivation to get started with things can be tough. Luckily, there are plenty of resources to help you get your motivation back and take control of your life. 

These 14 books about motivation are only a small portion of the literature available to help you reach your goals. Whether it’s pushing through resistance, developing a passion for the process, or simply learning to be more self-disciplined, these books offer expert advice on achieving success. 


What is the best motivational book to read?

There isn’t a single answer to  the ‘best motivational book to read.’ Different books will resonate with different people, depending on their individual goals and preferences. However, some of the most popular and widely praised books in the motivational genre include ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen Covey, ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle, and ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ by Tim Ferriss.

Does reading motivational books actually help?

Yes, reading good motivational books can be incredibly beneficial. By reading and reflecting on the advice provided in these books, readers can develop their confidence and self-discipline, better understand their goals and ambitions, and learn how to achieve them.

What motivational book should I read first?

The best motivational book to read first depends on your goals and interests. Generally speaking, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen R. Covey is a great starting point. It’s one of its class’s most well-known and widely praised motivational books.

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