If you’re feeling lost, you’re not alone. Figuring out what you want in life is challenging.
There are so many of us who are floundering, feeling untethered to our life’s purpose in ways both big and small.
Noticing that we’re feeling lost and are in need of help can be isolating and uncomfortable at first, but that discomfort is an important catalyst for change.
So many people stop here. They feel this ping of uncomfortable intuition and then numb the feeling of discomfort for a time. Many of us have chosen that path occasionally, but if you continue to choose the discomfort-numbing cycle, you'll never get to the root of the issue or free yourself to make progress towards your purpose-driven goals.
But, by seeking out books about finding your purpose, you’ve shown that you’re ready to stop that cycle.
You’re searching. And that is incredible.
So many folks don’t do this and - since you’re here looking for books, specifically - you’re definitely my kind of person.
Whenever I start to feel that gnawing sense that something is off, I do my best to pinpoint why I’m struggling then seek out the wisdom of those who have taken the time to write extensively about the topic I’m wrestling with.
This habit is so ingrained in me that, in a moment of frustration, my husband once huffed at me, “Every problem can’t be solved by reading a book, Lauren!” over a box of new books I’d hauled home.
Au contraire, mon amour!
While problems have never been solved by reading alone (transport me to that world STAT, please and thank you), the actions taken as a result of the knowledge nestled between the bindings of a book have improved our world immensely.
We are not supposed to have all the tools and resources on-board in our brains from day one of our existence. We need others to help us identify and take advantage of the tools, resources, and strategies we need to level-up and do life better. And I know no better resource for such things than authors who have taken the time to study an issue and then shine a light on a different path we can take.
While the actions we take in light of this new information are entirely ours to choose, I share these books about purpose with you in the hopes that they draw you closer to your truest calling and plant seeds of change in your life.
Books To Help You Begin Seeking Your Life's Purpose
When it comes to finding and naming your purpose, one thing we must do before we can step forward into our purpose is to look backward.
If you feel resistant to this idea of examining what’s going on in your past or is occurring in your present that is keeping you stuck, I get it.
A lot of people start exploring these topics and remain here a very long time which leads to the sense that it is a navel-gazing exercise that can devolve into finger-pointing and self-flagellation - both of which lead to a decidedly unfulfilling life.
But in the same way that you have chosen to stop the discomfort-numbing spin cycle by seeking out these books about purpose, you have the power to make a different choice when confronting your past and present.
You can examine what led you to this point and what is going on right now, and then choose to move forward rather than stay stuck.
This is akin to finding yourself on a digital map. You have to see where you’re starting in order to figure out where you want to be.
So let’s begin by gaining a little insight into ourselves.
As I joke in my course to help you name your purpose, Big Why Life, my patron saint is Brene Brown.
Our Lady of Vulnerability, Brown is the most incredibly incisive, honestly at-first-unwillingly vulnerable person I’ve ever heard speak.
When Brown first went to therapy, she told her new therapist: “No family stuff, no childhood shit, I just need some strategies.”
YES! I feel that.
Her initial avoidance and subsequent surrender resonates with my soul because I am a “skip to the end” kinda gal but, in skipping over the looking back part of the process, I was missing crucial elements that would help me gain the courage to show up as my most authentic self.
If you, too, are resistant to showing up fully in this world, unarmored and authentic, Braving The Wilderness is for you.
It is only in finding our way back to ourselves and accepting ourselves fully that we can unearth our truest calling.
In order to find your way to your highest calling, you may need to rethink the way in which you’re going about things.
And there’s no better guide through this tricky terrain than Adam Grant.
This eye-opening book will help you begin (or continue) your journey to purpose with humility and openness.
In Part 1 of Think Again, Grant’s helps us gain a better understanding of ourselves and our own limitations. While some of this is in service of facilitating better conversations with others, it all starts with our own sense of self.
“Think Again reveals that we don't have to believe everything we think or internalize everything we feel. It's an invitation to let go of views that are no longer serving us well and prize mental flexibility over foolish consistency. If knowledge is power, knowing what we don't know is wisdom.”
And be sure to pay close attention to Chapter 11. There’s tremendous insight here for those who are tempted to conflate career and purpose. Grant will help you parse this and find more fulfillment both in work and in life.
If you’re feeling stuck and like you’re sabotaging yourself in your pursuit of purpose, I highly recommend Jon Acuff’s book Soundtracks.
A lot of us are prone to overthinking. This can keep us from taking action.
Acuff helps us hear our own self-sabotaging thoughts more clearly and then gives us the ability to:
- turn down the dial on the less useful thoughts,
- turn up the volume on the more helpful thoughts we already have, and
- add new positive soundtracks to the mixtape of our minds.
Added bonus: this book strikes the tricky balance of being both highly entertaining and deeply impactful.
If you’re beginning your journey to finding your purpose, don’t take your first step without understanding the waters your mind is swimming in. Your success moving forward depends on it.
Books About Finding Your Purpose
Ready to go for a raucous, irreverent ride into identifying the right f*cking values to live by?
Enter: Mark Manson.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck is not for the faint of heart but, let’s be honest, you’re here to figure yourself out and waltzing through the tulips ain’t gonna get you there.
If you struggle with cursing and poop jokes, this one’s not for you.
But if that doesn’t bother you (or you can get over it), Manson will kick your butt in the very best way.
When trying to find our purpose, there’s often a sense that the answer to our question is ::gestures vaguely:: out there. That it lives outside of us and we’re supposed to go on a quest to find it.
But the truth is that it already is here. It lives within us.
No author I’ve read delivers this message with more hope, faith, and practical advice than Elizabeth Gilbert.
And you have treasures hidden within you—extraordinary treasures—and so do I, and so does everyone around us. And bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small.
Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
I love this book and, whether you consider yourself a creative or not, I think you will too.
If possible, listen to it on Audible because there is seriously big magic in Gilbert’s voice. She’ll rock you to your core.
While decidedly a business book, Start With Why has tremendous application for your personal quest for purpose.
I love his concept of The Golden Circle because it is so clear. Though he does it while looking at companies, you’ll be able to see applications for your personal life.
Want to take a shortcut? You can also watch Sinek’s Tedx Talk about Start With Why to learn about the Golden Circle.
Books To Help You Fully Live Your Purpose
As I’ve already shared in this article, I do believe that our true purpose already lives within us. Often, though, we don’t feel connected to it because of the pressures of day-to-day life.
It’s the tiny needle buried beneath the haystack of real life obligations.
Staying connected to our purpose is incredibly important. But it’s easy to lose sight of our purpose - even after we’ve identified it - if we continue to move through life in the same way we did before naming our why.
Essentialism will help you stay focused on your purpose and give you a better framework for making decisions about where to spend your most precious resource - your time.
Atomic Habits by James Clear
In my course, Big Why Life, when we envision the future or set goals, students generally have an easier time naming the big end result goals rather than imagining their ideal day to day lives.
Many of us can state the Blue Sky Dreaming goals that we have. And that’s great for getting us fired up and motivated…for a time.
But the journey of living our purpose happens day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. And it’s the small decisions we make in every moment that ultimately determine whether or not we make those grand visions manifest.
If you have big dreams but find you have a hard time converting the vision into action, Atomic Habits is a must-read for you.
James Clear will give you the tools and strategies you need to live your purpose in small ways each and every day so you can achieve your purpose-driven goals.
One of my all-time favorite mindset books ever, You Are A Badass will help you stay high-vibe and on track as you pursue your purpose-filled life.
Sincero’s brand of humor is startlingly refreshing and candid.
This book is like having a mindset coach in your passenger seat, telling stories, cracking jokes, and downloading the best mindset mixtape ever.
Pair reading this book with Soundtracks and you'll laugh until your sides hurt while growing a whole new outlook on your life and the agency you have to make your wildest dreams come true.
Your Next Right Step
Pick up a book and start reading! And then implement, implement, implement.
But there's one more thing you'll want to explore as you embark on your journey to living with purpose: your core values.
Being clear about the core values that you wish to live your life in alignment with is incredibly important work that will charge the needle on your life's compass to True North.
But, as you're not a walking thesaurus, sometimes it's hard to figure out exactly which word will strike a resonant chord with our soul.
To help, I've crafted a free downloadable PDF list of core values to choose from.
Simply enter your name and email address below and I'll send them your way right away.