The 15 Best Self-Improvement Books For Growth In The New Year

By Ella Carroll-Smith
·  7 min read
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So you want to make some positive changes in the new year? Then run – don’t walk – to your local bookstore!

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New Year's resolutions are all well and good, but sometimes we need to focus less on the goals themselves and more on how we’re actually going to accomplish them. Changing your life means changing the habits, thought patterns, and limiting beliefs that are holding you back. That’s where the books on this list come in! They will give you valuable insights into what obstacles are holding you back in life and how to overcome them. 

1. The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle

Tolle proposes that the majority of your negative and depressing thoughts, like regret and anxiety, can be absolved by focusing more on the present moment and less on things that you cannot change. The past and the future are completely outside your control, so it’s useless to obsess over them. Instead, focus on the one thing you do have control over: the present moment. Buy it now!

2. Atomic Habits, by James Clear

atomic habits

In this wildly popular and easy-to-read book, Clear walks you through exactly how to change your habits, and there’s a lot more to it than simply repeating a habit for 21 days to make it stick. Clear offers actionable steps you can take to create new and impactful habits that will improve your life. Buy it now!

3. Thinking Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

thinking fast and slow

The human mind is flawed. This is obvious, but it’s easy to forget as we get consumed by our thoughts, feelings, and reactions to everyday stressors. Here’s a quote from this book that will help set your mind free: “Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you’re thinking about it.” In this book, Kahneman explains what processes in your brain determine your behavior, when you can and can’t trust your gut, how the conflicting systems in your mind can create chaos, and what to do about it. Buy it now!

4. You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay

You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay

Louise Hay is a firm believer in the mind-body connection. We can see evidence of this in the toll that mental stress can take on our bodies. In this book, Hay explains how we have the power to change more aspects of our lives than we typically believe. By harnessing that power and changing the way we think, we can drastically improve the quality of our lives. Buy it now!

5. Man’s Search for Meaning, by Victor. E. Frankl

Man’s Search for Meaning, by Victor. E. Frankl

We all want to live a more meaningful life, but what does that actually look like? As a Holocaust survivor, Victor E. Frankl’s thoughts on this question are deeply profound. He stared death directly in the face, and the experience gave him valuable insights into what it means to be alive. This book will teach you how embracing the inevitability of death actually makes you less fearful and better able to face life’s greatest challenges. Buy it now!

6. How To Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

win friends influence people

This book is a classic. While it was initially written almost 90 years ago, its lessons are still applicable today. Carnegie’s book explains how the key to getting people to like and respect you more is by championing and empowering the people around you to do their best work. His advice is entertaining, insightful, and timeless. Buy it now!

7. Who Moved My Cheese?, by Spencer Johnson, M.D.

Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson, M.D.

As you might have guessed from the title, this book is a little quirky. It’s not your standard “self-help” book, but more of a story. Specifically, it’s a story about mice that serves as a metaphor for how human beings deal with change. It will help you learn how to deal with change, adapt to new situations, and grow to actually enjoy change, even though it can be scary sometimes. It’s a fun read that’s unlike any self-help book you’ve tried before. Buy it now!

8. The Courage To Be Disliked, by Ichiro Kishimi & Fumitake Koga

The Courage To Be Disliked, by Ichiro Kishimi & Fumitake Koga

Humans are social creatures, and yearning for the acceptance of others is hard-coded into our biological makeup, but in our modern world, it can often hold us back. Choosing happiness involves letting go of limiting beliefs and past traumas and having the courage to be disliked. Comparing yourself to others only breeds unhappiness, so don’t do it. Focus instead on things you can control. This book is all about how having the courage to be disliked will help you lead a happier and more fulfilling life. Buy it now!

9. Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell

In Outliers, Gladwell proposes that the secrets of ultra-successful people actually aren’t that secret at all. In fact, it’s typically just a mixture of luck, circumstance, and at least 10,000 hours of hard work. This book gives you some really interesting insights into success and some of the anecdotes (like why the month you’re born matters and why Asians are typically better at math) are truly fascinating. Buy it now!

10. The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale

The Power of Positive Thinking, by Norman Vincent Peale

When I first came across this book, the title turned me off because, while positive thinking can be effective, it’s also a little overrated. But this book is about more than simply thinking positively, it’s about believing in yourself, seeing your problems in a different light, and visualizing your goals. It’s a thought-provoking read that’s sure to change the way you think about positivity. Buy it now!

11. The Compound Effect, by Darren Hardy

The Compound Effect, by Darren Hardy

You’ve probably heard about the compound effect of money before, but that same idea is applicable to many other areas of your life. In this book, Darren Hardy teaches you how small changes can yield big results if – and only if – you are consistent. Buy it now!

12. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo

If you haven’t watched Marie Kondo’s show Tidying Up on Netflix, then what are you even doing with your life? Marie is adorable, and much like her show, this book is both delightful and inspiring. A cluttered space equals a cluttered mind. In this book, Marie offers insights and tips into how to declutter, find joy, and tidy up your space, mind, and life. Buy it now!

13. Quiet, by Susan Cain

Quiet, by Susan Cain

My fellow introverts, this book is for you! The book’s subtitle is The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, and in its pages, Cain lays out how Western cultures tend to idolize extroversion and portray it as the ideal of success. Just because introverts despise small talk, however, doesn’t mean they’re any less capable of success than extroverts, it simply means they process information differently. Whether you’re introverted or extroverted (but especially if you fall into the former camp), this book is a fascinating read. Buy it now!

14. The Attention Revolution, by B. Alan Wallace

The Attention Revolution, by B. Alan Wallace

These days, it feels like everything is designed to suck our attention away. The world is loud, we can’t stop staring into the black holes of our phone screens, and genuine human connection is at an all-time low. This book teaches readers how to utilize the power of meditation to reclaim your attention, be more present in your day-to-day life, and find peace in our chaotic world. Buy it now! 

15. The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

You know how every journey begins with a single step? This book takes that same idea and applies it to goal-setting. When you set a goal, all the steps you have to take to accomplish it can feel overwhelming. This book encourages readers to break tasks down and focus on only one thing at a time. By doing this, you’ll be more productive, less stressed, and find more satisfaction in life since you’ll finally be able to get things done. Buy it now!

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully, some of the books on this list resonate with you! No matter what your goal is for the new year or what areas of your life you seek to grow in, all changes begin within. Think about the why behind your goals and use that as your motivation to stick to them. 

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