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3 Personal Development Books To Inspire Growth

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Looking for the best personal development books to help you improve your life, build healthy habits, manage your mindset, and succeed fast? Here are the top 3 books to read to inspire personal growth in your life.


A few months ago I wrote a post that went viral about the 5 books that will change your life in 2019.

It was exhilarating to engage so many people in the personal development sphere, and to be able to provide the knowledge and resources people want and need to create the best versions of their lives.

I love personal development books. It is by far my favorite genre. I am obsessed with how our minds work and how simple changes have the potential to change our lives.

Since my last post about personal development books, I’ve read numerous other books (by numerous I mean SEVENTEEN) and have boiled down 3 more amazing novels that will inspire you to grow as a person this year.

Today, I want to share with you the key lessons I learned from these personal development books, how I applied these things to my life, and my favorite quotes.

My goal is to help you pick the next book for your morning routine, your coffee table collection, or your evening wind down, so that you have the information and inspiration you need to chase the big dreams in your life.

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Rising Strong

By Brene Brown

Brene Brown is my favorite. She brings such a different perspective to personal development books than a lot of the authors out there who prioritize achievement and hustle over self compassion and love.

In this book, Brene Brown shares the lessons she’s learned from people who are living a brave life.

People who are shooting for the stars and wading into the messiness of life and coming out on the other side, imperfect but alive.

People who are trying to live out their potential by chasing their dreams, failing, and trying again.

This book is all about getting back up after a fall, and if you’ve been a little bit scarred ever since your last blunder, this one is for you.

Key takeaways from this personal development book

Perfection is about the furthest thing in the world from badassery

Perfection is not a strength or a skill or a badge to wear with pride.

Perfection is something you need to work through so that you can get to that dream.

Achievement never comes without mistakes, consequences, and failures.

When I see people stand fully in their truth, or when I see someone fall down, get back up, and say “Damn. That really hurt, but this is important to me and I’m going in again” — my gut reaction is, “What a badass.

BRENE BROWN

We often avoid fully going for it because we hide from the opportunity to make a mistake.

We sit in our comfort zones of people pleasing and we refuse to stand up for ourselves, our wants, and our needs.

I am slowly learning that being imperfect means being brave and authentic.

ANA MCRAE

The middle is messy

Deciding to be courageous with your life means accepting failure.

There’s just no way around the fact that the space between committing to something and achieving it is long, and hard, and messy.

When we commit to showing up and risking falling, we are actually committing to failing. Daring is not saying “I’m willing to risk failure.” Daring is saying, “I know I will eventually fail and I’m still all in.” Fortune may favor the bold, but so does failure.

BRENE BROWN

Failure just keeps coming up again and again in everything I read, and it’s making me a little less scared of it every single time.

I’m starting to learn that nobody gets to where they are without messing up along the way. If they weren’t making mistakes, they’d be standing in one place. I can’t be the leader I want to be if I’m unwilling to push and stretch, which ultimately means I’ll mess up somewhere.

Commitment means seeing it through to the end

After we commit to being brave, we can never go back. We know when we’re showing up and when we’re hiding out, when we are living our values and when we are not.

BRENE BROWN

Once you get real honest with yourself about your goals and your dreams and what you want in life, you can’t stuff it back down and hide it like you had before.

Being courageous means pushing through until you get to the other side — there is no turning back.

We all numb our feelings… PS staying busy counts as numbing!

This one hit me hard. Brene had a long list of ways we numb ourselves (alcohol, caffeine, drugs, sex, you name it) but I didn’t feel like any of those applied to me.

Until she stated that staying busy is just another way to numb our feelings.

Mic drop.

I definitely do that, and apparently it is not healthy.

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Favorite Quotes from Brene Brown’s book Rising Strong

It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly;…who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT (1910)

When you’re on your path, the universe will conspire to help you.

BRENE BROWN

Stop respecting and evaluating people based on what we think they should accomplish, and start respecting them for who they are and holding them accountable for what they’re actually doing… stop loving people for who they could be and start loving them for who they are… sometimes when we’re beating ourselves up, we need to stop and say to that harassing voice inside, “Man, I’m doing the very best I can right now.

BRENE BROWN

Sometimes the greatest threat is keeping your head down and staying so focused on dodging the sinkholes that you lose sight of where you’re going and why.

BRENE BROWN

Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.

BRENE BROWN

Ways I’ve Changed My Life After Reading This Personal Development Book

//1// I started getting curious about my emotions and the way I react in certain situations

I started asking myself some of the questions in the book that help you reckon with emotion:

  • Why am I being so hard on everyone around me today?
  • What’s setting me off?
  • How did I get to the point that I want to punch this wall?
  • I’m having such a strong emotional reaction – what’s going on?
  • I know Oreos aren’t going to work. What’s really happening?

Before the book, I would have accepted my emotions at face value and let them control the way I acted.

Now, I reflect before I react and look for the meaning behind my feelings. This often leads to a more proactive resolution of the situation, one filled with much less regret.

//2// I started reality checking my expectations.

The most frequent cause of disappointment is that my expectations are unrealistic and reality didn’t match up with my perfect picture.

If I’m expecting to be able to write 5 blog posts this weekend, but we’ve got a family dinner to go to, the kids need to be chauffeured to sports, friends are coming over for board games, and the dog needs to go to the vet, I am not setting myself up for success.

I’m learning to adjust my expectations so that I am able to embrace the present moment rather than wish for something unrealistic.

Brene Brown is probably my very favorite. I wrote about her other book in this post and would highly recommend any of her work. I’ll be rereading this one for sure.

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The Confidence Code

by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

Every single one of you needs to read this.

If you tend to shy away, people please, and chase perfection, you are sabotaging your success!

The very opposite of building confidence is trying to avoid mistakes.

That is not the path to building your dream life!

In this book, Katty & Claire explain what confidence is, how you sabotage it, how you can create more of it, and why it is so important to modern day success. Their research points to the fact that confidence is only partially genetic, and that we get to choose how confident we feel day to day.

Confidence is the purity of action produced by a mind free of doubt.

KAY & SHIPMAN

How wildly would your pursue your dream if you could leave all of your doubts behind?

That’s why this book is a game changer.

Key takeaways from this personal development book

Confidence is a choice

I was blown away by the proof that we don’t have to accept our confidence levels as they are. You don’t have to say “I’m just not that confident.” Confidence is something you build!

The top three items on the ‘confidence blacklist’ are

  • Overthinking
  • People pleasing
  • Unable to let go of defeats

If you do these things, you sabotage your confidence and end up in a downward spiral: when you’re less confident, you perform worse, which in turn makes you even less confident.

Upon reflection, I was blown away by how often I engage in these activities that don’t serve me and the life I am trying to create.

It was encouraging to know that confidence is linked to doing: I’ve done it once, I can do it again. And we always have the choice to act, therefore we always have the choice to build up our confidence.

Eventually we will have enough of a ‘confidence reserve’ that it will be easier to take those risks and believe in our ability to see things through.

However, when you’re first starting out, Kay & Shipman state that “courage can be a critical partner to confidence, especially in situations where we are operating without the benefit of a confidence reserve and we need to take those first terrifying steps to start building it.”

Confidence is important. Courage is a prerequisite.

That doesn’t mean have no fear. It means have fear and do it anyway. That’s how you build confidence.

When in doubt, act.

Confidence matters more than competence

In today’s environment, your level of confidence has more impact on your ability to land the client, get the promotion, achieve the goal, etc etc, than your actual ability/competence/skills.

Say what?

Confidence is more important than competence!?

This is mind boggling to those of us who were raised to believe that if you just put your head down and do the work, the world will recognize you.

Your quality of work needs to meet a certain baseline, but the rest of your success is proportional to your belief that you deserve that thing you’re chasing.

ANA MCRAE

I continue to be blown away by how much our internal dialogues affect our lives.

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Meditation will change your life

I’ve been maintaining a consistent meditation practice for the past year, or so, and I liked doing it because I felt like a calmer, more content version of myself when I took the time to just breathe.

Little did I know that meditation actually creates physical changes in your brain structure!

A consistent practice creates less activity in — and actually shrinks! — the amygdala (the fear center). It also creates more activity in the prefrontal cortex (the calm/reason center) which allows you to make better decisions and stress out less.

My key take away from this was to keep going with meditation, even when it feels like a waste of time to sit there and do nothing.

You are rewiring your brain to calmly take on everything life throws your way.

PS – If you wish you had more time to meditate, or read awesome books like these, you can get 7 hours back in your week by following 25 simple time management principles! Check out our time management 101 e course.

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My favorite quotes

If you choose not to act, you have little chance of success. What’s more, when you choose to act, you’re able to succeed more frequently than you think. How often in life do we avoid doing something because we think we’ll fail? Is failure really worse than doing nothing? And how often might we have triumphed if we had just decided to give it a try?

KAY & SHIPMAN

Even if you make the wrong decision, decide. It’s better than inaction.

KAY & SHIPMAN

The people who succeed aren’t always naturals, they are doers.

KAY & SHIPMAN

Ways I’ve Changed My Life After Reading This Personal Development Book

// 1 // I started acting the way I wanted to feel.

I approached challenges in my day to day life with confidence, even if I didn’t feel particularly positive about what I had to do.

This made a world of difference in the actual outcome, all because I changed my perception of the situation.

For example, when heading into a difficult team meeting that I wasn’t looking forward to, instead of thinking ‘this is going to go so poorly, I can’t wait to get it over with, what if everyone argues against me?’ I changed the narrative in my mind to ‘this is a great opportunity to improve the project, it is going to go well, people will be receptive to my feedback and I know what I am talking about.’ Then entering the room with energy, a smile, the decision to speak my mind and speak it clearly made all the difference in how the meeting actually went.

// 2 // I wrote down all of my negative automatic thoughts on a piece of paper and tore it up.

Some of the things on there were ‘I am a boring mom. I have no energy to face the day. I’m not doing as well as I’d like to at work. This is going to be another mundane day.’

It felt so great to literally tear them up and start with a blank slate.

This was the beginning of my pursuit in rewiring my negative thought patterns.

Get the book. It’s so good.

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The Happiness Project

by Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin decided to try a variety of experiments every month for a year to see if she could change her base level of happiness and get more out of life.

Each month had a theme with a few actions that she took to impact that area of her life.

The themes were:

  • Boost Energy (Vitality)
  • Remember Love (Marriage)
  • Aim Higher (Work)
  • Lighten Up (Parenthood)
  • Be Serious About Play (Leisure)
  • Make Time for Friends (Friendship)
  • Buy Some Happiness (Money)
  • Contemplate the Heavens (Eternity)
  • Pursue A Passion (Books)
  • Pay attention (Mindfulness)
  • Keep a contented heart (attitude)
  • Boot camp perfect (Happiness)

I liked it because as a working mom with kids, I could relate to a lot of the struggles between what needs done and what I want to do. Each of her months had me writing down new ideas to try for myself, essentially starting my very own happiness project.

Key takeaways from this personal development book

Sometimes our mental rules of thumb suck

We often walk through life on autopilot, and fall into these mechanical thoughts that may or may not serve our lives.

For example, how many times have you thought to yourself, or said to your kids, ‘hurry up! We’re in a rush!’ Are you actually in a rush? Or do you just want to be somewhere at a certain time because of a schedule you’ve made up in your own mind?

Consistently thinking I’m in a rush goes against my values of living intentionally, enjoying the present moment, and staying positive.

My key takeaway was that I need to monitor and question those automatic thoughts that I’ve just accepted as part of myself.

They in fact aren’t who I am and they need to be rewired.

Reflection increases happiness

Gretchen writes “only through recognizing my happiness did I really appreciate it.”

I can have a good day, but if I don’t sit down at the end of a day (usually with a tea in hand and a journal in my lap) and think over the things that went well, they easily get dismissed in the blur that is life and I don’t realize how truly blessed I am.

Reflecting on your day, recognizing your happiness, and expressing gratitude make you significantly happier than rushing through fun activities and never taking the time to pause and appreciate the moment.

Happiness doesn’t depend on some thing in the future

We often buy into the notion that ‘when I lose 15 pounds, or when I take a vacation, or when I get that promotion, I will be happy.’

The reality is that you’re buying into the ‘arrival fallacy.’

Rarely does the thing you’re anticipating bring you as much happiness as you assume.

This happens for a number of reasons

You’re already expecting to have the thing, so it’s prebuilt into your current happiness level, making it a little less exciting when it actually does happen

Getting the thing usually brings more work (a promotion means more responsibility, a vacation means planning all the logistics, losing 15 pounds means continuing to make healthy choices and having to buy all new clothing) that we don’t anticipate.

Being happy depends on choosing to be happy right now.

ANA MCRAE

It does not depend on you achieving some goals or having some things. That may ‘upgrade’ your problems, but it doesn’t get rid of them.

Happiness is driven by the pursuit of our goals, so we all need to embrace the actual process of achieving them.

What’s that saying? It’s about the journey not the destination? 100% truth.

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My Favorite Quotes

Happiness and misery consist in a progression towards better or worse; it does not matter how high up or low down you are, it depends not on this, but on the direction in which you are trending.

SAMUEL BUTLER

Prosperity allows us to turn our attention to more transcendent matters – to yearn for lives not just of material comfort but of meaning, balance, and joy.

GRETCHEN RUBIN

Ways I’ve Changed My Life After Reading This Personal Development Book

// 1 // I became more intentional with my money

We have always been budgeters and have achieved great financial success in being conscious of how we spend our money, but at this point I would say we are a little too scrupulous.

When everything becomes ‘too expensive’ and nothing is ‘in the budget’ then you miss out on the ability to use money for the reasons you earn it: to live the life you want to live.

I started to spend money to support my happiness goals. Which meant it was okay to spend money on

  • building relationships with friends
  • promoting my energy and health
  • cultivating happy family memories
  • creating a peaceful home
  • supporting causes close to my heart
  • experiencing the world

In this manner, the 15$ blanket I don’t need is actually more expensive than the $300 camping trip, because one aligns with my values and ambitions and the other does not.

// 2 // Make decisions faster

I discovered that I am what Gretchen calls a ‘maximizer:’ I assess pros and cons of every single possible option before selecting something and anxiously worrying about whether or not I made the right choice.

This applies to everything from where to go on vacation to which pair of sneakers to buy for my kids.

It takes so much energy!

I started setting ‘decision deadlines’ that were no more than 5 minutes – 24 hours (depending on the gravity of the decision) so that I would avoid getting stuck in analysis paralysis.

Related post: The Key To Making Hard Decisions

The Happiness Project helped me take a look at some of the things I do and don’t do that affect my base levels of happiness. It inspired me to try some new things and put more emphasis on how I am feeling instead of what I am achieving.

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Our potential is unlimited should we dare to pursue our wildest dreams.

Anything we truly want in life is 100% completely achievable.

There is a world of personal development books, podcasts, coaches, mentors, programs, and resources to help us close the gap from where we are now to where we want to be.

If you’re looking to live a bigger and better life; if you want to step into a higher version of yourself; if you want to create a life that aligns with your highest values and ambitions; I highly recommend that you surround yourself with the books, media, and people that push you toward your goal and don’t pull you back down to your status quo.

The lessons in these 3 books are life changing, should you choose to implement them.

Grab one, or all three, from your local bookstore, library, friend, or Amazon, and get inspired.

Shake things up.

Change your thoughts, change your habits, and change your life.


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What books are on your list? What actions have you taken from the lessons you’ve learned in reading? Comment below!

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