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8 Inspiring Goal-Setting Books

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Nikki DeMarco

Contributor

The inimitable Nikki DeMarco is as well-traveled as she is well-read. Being an enneagram 3, Aries, high school librarian, makes her love for efficiency is unmatched. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, and is passionate about helping teens connect to books. Nikki has an MFA in creative writing, is a TBR bibliologist, and writes for Harlequin, Audible, Kobo, and MacMillan. Since that leaves her so much time, she’s currently working on writing a romance novel, too. Find her on all socials @iamnikkidemarco (Instagram, Twitter, Threads)

New beginnings and fresh starts are my favorites. The potential of a blank notebook, the promise of an empty Google Doc, and the uncracked spine of a new planner all get me giddy. Add a brand new year to the list, the smelling of freshly printed pages and cold winter airs, and mix in some of the most inspiring goal setting books.

At the beginning of every month, one of my best friends and I text each other excitedly about a new month and new goals. We check in quarterly, too. In the new year, it’s even more exciting. We plan a night to get together, build a fire, reflect on the closing year and set intentions and goals for the coming one. It’s a contemplative and intentional start. 

New goals are not resolutions for me. I do not want to completely change who I am as a person and fight my innate tendencies to be some undefined “better” version of myself. New year, same me. Instead, setting goals is a way to live purposefully. I have found that I often overestimate what I can do in a day and underestimate what I can do in a year. Setting goals helps me remember how long the days are and how short the years.

The Best Goal-Setting Books

cover of the desire map

The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul by Danielle LaPorte

If you’re new to the goal setting game, The Desire Map is absolutely the place to start. Instead of focusing on what you want or what you think you must have, it shifts to focusing on how you want to feel in the new year. From there, you set goals. This builds intention and what you truly desire rather than what you think you should want or what society tells you is important. 

cover of the path made clear

The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose by Oprah Winfrey

Oprah believes every person’s life has a purpose. The sooner they are able to figure out what that purpose is, the sooner they can start living it. Having a purpose makes people happier and more fulfilled. Oprah guides readers to make a framework for creating a life that’s significant and more than successful. This book is for people who feel a calling for their life and need some help refining how to answer that call.

Cover of Atomic Habits by James Clear

Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear

Now that your intentions for the new year are set, starting can be overwhelming. Enter Atomic Habits. In this book, James Clear explains how tiny changes over time turn into life revolutions. It’s like setting a ship’s course one degree in a different direction. Immediately, it doesn’t seem to matter, but ultimately, the destination becomes completely different.

cover of how to begin

How to Begin: Start Doing Something that Matters by Micheal Bungay Stanier

Let’s say you have your goal in mind, maybe even have had that goal in mind for years. How to Begin is a practical guide on getting started on your most difficult goals. This book understands that hard work is important but daunting. With humor and compassion, How to Begin guides readers through how to start and successfully continue on their most challenging goals.

Book cover of More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth

More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say) by Elaine Welteroth

Less how-to, more have-done, More Than Enough shares Teen Vogue writer Elaine Welteroth’s story in her own words of how she got where she is. It’s an inspiring memoir that reminds us that we can achieve great goals, too, and that there is enough space for all of us. She shares profound lessons for us to learn from and implement in our own lives. Welteroth has blazed a hard-fought trail and wants us to know that we have the right to follow.

cover of the lazy genius way

The Lazy Genius Way: Embrace What Matters, Ditch What Doesn’t, and Get Stuff Done by Kendra Adachi

Based on her wildly successful podcast, Kendra Adachi’s book helps people work smarter on what really matters to them. The Lazy Genius Way helps readers cut through mixed messages of how one “should” live well. It harnesses the power of small decisions and beginnings. There’s even a section on the importance of scheduling rest. It’s a well balanced guide to figuring out your goals and what you need to do to achieve them.

cover of speak by tunde oyeneyin

Speak: Find Your Voice, Trust Your Gut, and Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Tunde Oyeneyin

Peloton instructor Tunde Oyeneyin has been inspiring people on the bike for years. In her book, which is part manifesto, part memoir, she keeps inspiring people and gives them a positive push. Through her Instagram Live series of the same name, Tunde has practical advice and concrete steps for how to live the “SPEAK” acronym: Surrender, Power, Empathy, Authenticity, and Knowledge. This book is a one-two-punch of inspiration and practicality.

cover of what works

What Works: A Comprehensive Framework to Change the Way We Approach Goal Setting by Tara McMullin

Tara McMullin wants to address the urgent “more” many people claim to seek. She’s created a gentle framework to help readers transform the way they set and achieve goals. Push beyond platitudes to prioritize practice over perfection. With a focus on well-being, this is a book for people who want to escape hustle and grind culture but still want to pursue their goals.

If you’re feeling fired up and ready to start on goals in the new year with these goal setting books, check out How to Keep Up with Your Reading Goals and take this quiz on what your bookish resolution should be.