No matter where you are in life, your sense of purpose — also known as your 'why’ — tends to shift, so it’s important to stay attuned to your evolving needs. These 10 titles, from parables to practical how-to manuals, offer insight for tapping into your sense of purpose.
Many of us feel listless or without true purpose because we see others achieving what we believe to be success. We compare ourselves to this impossible ideal we see in others. Good news: Success and purpose is not exactly what you think they are. Barker's book is a great read if you're feeling down about your current position and need reassurance that you're not as far from success as you may think.
If you're thinking about what's going to happen later today, tomorrow, next year, or in the coming decade, and not attuned to what’s happening now, you need this book. Tolle argues that living in the present, rather than the future, is the key to a purpose-driven, successful life. We tend to think that we'll start working towards our purpose at some fuzzy point in the future, but Tolle's book reminds us to focus on this very moment.
Sometimes you may have to push yourself out of your comfort zone to find your purpose. In Year of Yes, Rhimes teaches you to do just that. The TV legend shares how her year of saying yes changed her life for the better. This book is a great reminder that sometimes, you need to try new things, get uncomfortable, and take steps towards a purpose-driven life.
As host of the #1 podcast On Purpose and a former businessman turned almost-monk, Jay Shetty is all about leading a purpose-driven life. In his best-selling book Think Like a Monk, Shetty offers practical and spiritual advice for making small improvements to your daily life while also zooming out to the bigger picture of discovering a higher purpose and reason for living. It's the ideal book for those who continually second guess themselves or struggle with not knowing their true purpose.
You can't write a list of books about purpose without including The Alchemist. Coelho's modern parable has sold over 320 million copies, and this tale of self-discovery is a fantastic reminder that much of your purpose is found in the journey, not the destination. It's an easy read, and if you're a parent with minimal time to read books, it’s one you can read with young children. They may not understand the overarching theme, but the story itself is adventurous enough to appeal to young readers.
Don't let the title fool you: This wildly popular self-help guide by Mark Manson isn't about giving up on having a purpose in life. In fact, it's the opposite: Manson wants readers to let go of the idea that there's one "right" way to live, and, instead, encourages readers to lean into their true purpose, even if it's not following the traditional pathways to success. If you tend to shy away from self-help because it's too touchy-feely, this is the book for you. But, as the title suggests, expect a lot of straight-talk — and cursing.
Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy
While technically in the self-help category, Living Forward is more of a roadmap with practical directions when it comes to finding your purpose. Most of us, the authors explain, suffer from "drift." We fall into comfortable, predictable lives and rarely stop to check in and see how we're actually feeling, or if we're actually moving in the right direction. When we notice that something feels off, it's typically because we begin to realize that we've lost our sense of purpose. Hyatt and Harkavy teach you how to find that purpose again — and how to actually start living the life you want, not just creating yet another vision board.
If you like the idea of Living Forward but need even more practical pushing to start living your dream, check out Crush It!. Vaynerchuk has gone from building a wine empire to inspiring entrepreneurs worldwide, and if you need tough love and some serious enthusiasm as well as utterly practical skill acquisition, read this book. Say you decided your purpose was helping others find a passion for gardening in small spaces: Vaynerchuk built an entire guidebook to figuring out exactly what your purpose is, but also how to spread your message across different platforms — and make a living doing so.
When it comes to purpose, people tend to falter in the planning phases. It's surprisingly easy to come up with a list of things you think would give your life purpose and meaning, but to actually get to those goals and lead that life isn't quite as simple. Eckerling's short and to-the-point goal-setting guide is a great one for when you know roughly what you want, but you have no plan in place to get it. In just a couple of hours, you'll have a clear set of steps to start achieving your life's purpose.
You may not be creative in your career, but for many people, creativity is a major part of their life's purpose. That doesn't just mean painting on a canvas or drawing on a sketchpad, either: It can include everything from playing with your kids to writing a novel to building the website you always wanted to code. As Jarvis says, life isn't about finding success or fulfillment, it's about creating it. Here, he's teaching people to embrace their creative side and infuse each day with a few simple moments of creative freedom. Even if you haven't established your exact purpose, letting your creativity blossom may help you discover your 'why.'