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Aside from during my teenage years, when the world of video games consumed the vast majority of my spare time, I’ve always been an avid reader. And while I’ve delved into many different genres, the one that I’ve explored most extensively by far, especially since my mid-twenties, is personal development.

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Whether it be a classic like Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, or a newer addition to the genre such as Neil Pasricha’s The Happiness Equation, I’ve read countless books on this topic and am incredibly grateful for what each has taught me or helped me to overcome. 

Knowing that not all of us have the time to read the seemingly endless number of personal development books filling the shelves of your local library, I’ve decided to put together a list of the five that have impacted me the most.

While I cannot guarantee they will affect you equally as much, I do hope they will, and feel confident that at least you won’t regret taking the time to read them. 

Here are the five most impactful personal development books I’ve read thus far, as well as why I believe you too should read them, in both video and written form:

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1. Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives

Way of the Peaceful Warrior is an autobiographical novel written by Dan Millman that blends fact with fiction to offer up some quite profound food for thought. The book tells the story of a world-champion gymnast (Dan) who forms an unexpected relationship with a service station mechanic (Socrates) who ultimately becomes his mentor.

How It Impacted Me

This book taught me the power of being truly present in and attentive to every moment in life. For me, the character of Socrates represents what I’ve come to know as my intuition, and reminded me of how my thoughts and belief systems (rather than external factors) are my greatest limitation.

Reasons to Read It

  • To better understand and strengthen your connection to your intuition
  • To help with a wandering mind that loves to always either dwell on the past or project into the future

2. Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!

Awaken the Giant Within is a direct self-help book that boldly challenges your values, goals, and overall approach to life. Written by world-renowned life and business coach Tony Robbins, it combines storytelling with exercises to encourage the reader to take action on changing their life as they read the book.

How It Impacted Me

Choosing to actively complete each of the suggested exercises as I came across them meant that the book had an immediate impact on virtually every facet of my life. It helped me to identify conflicting values, better lay out my goals, and appreciate everything that has made me into who I am today. As an extrovert myself, Tony’s style of writing and motivational speaking has always resonated with me, but I feel this book in particular can be just as effective for even the most introverted among us.

Reasons to Read It

  • To become a better goal setter (of goals you’ll actually take action on)
  • To better understand what is internally holding you back from attaining the life you desire

3. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

While the title may sound a little to “woo-woo” for some, The Power of Now is the first book ever written by the infamous spiritual teacher and public speaker Eckhart Tolle. It is intended to be a guide to help the reader recognize the importance of staying in the present moment rather than being consumed by past or future thoughts.

How It Impacted Me

I first absorbed the teachings of this book by listening to a recording while renovating my mother’s house several years ago. I wasn’t particularly happy to be doing the renovations at the time, but I was soon amazed by how the book shifted my perspective on the work (and ultimately so much of what I do). It helped me realize just how many of my thoughts are charged by things that truly need have no bearing on my current experience.

Reasons to Read It

  • To become better at quieting your overthinking mind on demand
  • To develop a greater appreciation for everything that happens in life and to learn from it more effectively

4. How to Win Friends & Influence People

How to Win Friends & Influence People is one of the most-read books of all time, with over 30 million copies sold since its publication in 1936. Despite being very dated in many of its references, the core subject matter remains remarkably applicable to modern life. Proof of this lies in its 2011 ranking by Time Magazine as #19 of the most influential 100 books of all time. 

How It Impacted Me

As the name suggests, this book significantly improved my communication and relationship skills. It showed me unhealthy speaking habits I had made a part of my regular life and gave me effective ways to replace them (that don’t involve manipulation).

Reasons to Read It

  • To identify the weaknesses within your communication skills that you’re likely unaware of
  • To equip yourself with an easy-to-use set of tools for more effective formal and informal communication

5. Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue

Conversations with God is a three-part book series comprised of a back and forth conversation between the author of the book and a voice he refers to as God. Despite sounding like a religious text, the book does not connect to any particular faith and instead is better classified as spiritual.

How It Impacted Me

What particularly impressed me about this book is just how many things I had often wondered about were reflected in the conversation. Nearly all of the answers resonated with me, and gave me such a new and profound perspective on life that I actually read it several times in a row, taking notes on my second and third pass.

Reasons to Read It

  • To answer many of the questions you hold the solution to internally but have a difficult time accessing
  • To develop your critical thinking skills by identifying what does and doesn’t ring true for you personally

Do you enjoy uplifting self-help content like this? SIGN UP to be a part of my mission to make personal development more interesting for both of us! As a thank you gift for doing so, I’ll personally send 3 tools to help you conquer anxiety to your inbox within 48 hours.

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