“I want to change, but…” “I want to get in shape, but…” “I want to move, but…” 

I once heard Gary Vaynerchuk say that we all need to remove the word “but” from our vocabularies entirely because anything that follows usually has negativity tied to it. These counterproductive thoughts can hold us back from taking risks and reaching our goals.

When I’m feeling stuck, deciding to move forward is usually the hardest part. We worry about doing the wrong thing and obsess over inconsequential details because we’re afraid to just do something. 

So what’s the solution to this super-glued feeling all of us experience at different times in our lives? Enter: “the bicycle principle.” According to this source, “the bicycle principle means that it’s easier to make changes in life once you’re moving. Just as with riding a bike, you can steer more easily once you’ve picked up the pace. And if you try to steer while not moving, you’ll probably fall down. So just start pedaling and see where you end up. Remember that it’s not about the final destination; it’s about the direction.”

We’ve gathered a list of our favorite self-help books that inspire you to get your bicycle pedals going. These motivational books are perfect reading for any time there’s an area of your life where you’re feeling a little stuck.

The Clarity Cleanse

12 Steps to Finding Renewed Energy, Spiritual Fulfillment, and Emotional Healingby Habib Sadeghi, DO

Dr. Sadeghi’s Clarity Cleanse is a journey of self-discovery to unlock the unresolved emotional issues hurting your health and success, and how to live with greater self-awareness. An advisor to Gwyneth Paltrow, Emily Blunt, Tim Robbins, Stella McCartney, and others, Dr. Sadeghi shows you how to turn obstacles into healing and energizing opportunities through a liberating 12-step guide to recognizing the emotional issues that hold you back. Following the steps in this self-help book will help you to achieve a sense of peace and control, raise your self-esteem, and assert yourself in new ways to achieve positive and lasting change.

Shoe Dog

A Memoir by the Creator of Nikeby Phil Knight

Nike founder and board chairman Phil Knight “offers a rare and revealing look at the notoriously media-shy man behind the swoosh”, illuminating his company’s early days as an intrepid start-up and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing, and profitable brands. Bill Gates named Shoe Dog one of his five favorite books and called it, “an amazing tale, a refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like. It’s a messy, perilous, and chaotic journey, riddled with mistakes, endless struggles, and sacrifice. Phil Knight opens up in ways few CEOs are willing to do.”

Rising Strong

How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, by Brené Brown

“When we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write the ending.” Social scientist Brené Brown has ignited a global conversation on courage, vulnerability, shame, and worthiness. She tells us that Rising Strong is about getting to the heart of the most painful and uncomfortable moments we’ve ever experienced, getting honest about the way in which they’ve made us feel, and being bold enough to hold ourselves accountable to get up and grow from the past as we move into the future. This self-help book is a must for anyone looking to create stronger, more wholehearted versions of themselves.

Creativity, Inc.

Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspirationby Ed Catmull

Ed Catmull, President and Co-founder (with Steve Jobs and John Lasseter) of Pixar Animation Studios and Disney Animation, brings you centerstage to the world of creativity in business and provides the tools necessary to help guide you and those around you to reach their full potential. Creativity, Inc. is a book for managers who want to lead their company and its employees to new heights, a manual for anyone who strives for originality, and the first-ever, all-access trip into the nerve center of Pixar Animation—into the meetings, postmortems, and “Braintrust” sessions where some of the most successful films in history are made. This is a terrific self-help book about how to build a successful, empowering creative culture—but it is also, as Ed Catmull writes, “an expression of the ideas that I believe make the best in us possible.”

The Universe Has Your Back

Transform Fear to Faithby Gabriele Bernstein

New York Times best-selling author, international speaker, and spirit junkie Gaby Bernstein teaches you how to transform fear into faith in order to live a divinely guided life. Each story and lesson in The Universe Has Your Back guides you to release the blocks that are holding you back from what you long for: happiness, security, and clear direction. When the tragedies of the world seem overwhelming, this self-help book will help guide you back to your true inner power. Gaby gives you the tools to find strength when you’re down, synchronicity, and support when you’re lost, safety in the face of uncertainty, and joy when you’re otherwise in pain. Follow her secrets to unleash the presence of your power, and know always that the universe has your back.

The Stuck Book

Pick This Up When You Don’t Know What to Do Next, by Chris McAlister

This is a short book you can pick up when you have a question and get an answer for what needs to be done. Seize the day? Wait and ponder? Whether it’s your job or a relationship, there are 4 simple answers for your 1,000,000 questions. The Stuck Book is full of easily digestible wisdom. I loved how Chris walks you through each season of change (applicable to work, personal growth, and life in general). For each season, he offers transformative reflections that help you to understand where you are, calls out common pitfalls, and ultimately offers real-life action steps you can take to move forward. This self-help book is for the person who feels stuck and is ready to make a real change.

Awaken the Giant Within

How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny, by Tony Robbins

“As you look back over the last ten years, were there times when a different decision would have made your life radically different from today, either for better or for worse?” Tony Robbins, the nation’s leader in the science of peak performance, shows you his most effective strategies and techniques for mastering your emotions, your body, your relationships, your finances, and your life. Tony provides a step-by-step program that teaches the fundamental lessons of self-discovery that will enable you to seek out your true purpose, take control of your life, and harness the forces that shape your destiny. Key takeaway: “know that it’s your decisions, and not your conditions, that determine your destiny.”

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international bestseller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

“The decision to pursue what sparks joy extends far beyond its first application in-home tidying: it often opens the door for greater self-discovery and fulfillment. After a thorough tidying session, one of Marie’s clients quit her job and started a new business. Another client shared that she felt comfortable inviting friends to her home for the first time. Another client declared she had moved on from a destructive relationship that no longer sparked joy – and that it transformed her entire life.” This book is about way more than decluttering your home… it’s about decluttering your mind, your environment, and anything distracting you from reaching your goals and finding inner peace.

From Chaos to Clarity

Getting Unstuck & Creating A Life You Love, by Alex Bratty

A must-read for anyone who is in transition, facing a major fork in the road, feeling frustrated, lost, or stuck in situations that they don’t know how to change. In this half autobiography/half self-help resource, Alex openly shares her own struggles with being stuck and how she was able to transform a life that was difficult and stressful to one of ease and optimism. She also provides a step-by-step guide for how to change negative thought patterns and subconscious beliefs that may be sabotaging you from moving forward. This one has it all: inspiration, techniques, resources, tough love, and new perspectives. It will help you take action to create and live the life you truly want, one baby step, at a time.


How Non-Conformists Move the World, by Adam Grant

Originals re-defines what being creative means by using specific examples of how persistence, transparency, critical thinking, and perspective can be brought together to change the world. What you’ll get is a self-help book that feels like sitting down with a really smart older friend, who tells you countless stories of how creative people tackled seemingly impossible problems and solved them. From Picasso to Beethoven and from bloggers to moviemakers, no industry or field is left aside—further proof that creativity matters everywhere.

You Are a Badass

How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, by Jan Sincero

Jen Sincero is ridiculously hilarious and takes on a no-nonsense attitude to provide you with direct instructions on how to change your perspective on life to master obtaining your dreams and convince yourself that not only do you deserve it, but you will get it if you try hard enough. Jo takes you on a wild joy ride to your own transformation, helping you create the money, relationships, career, and general all-around awesomeness you so desire. If you’re one of those people who needs some advice and inspiration but would rather take a bullet than get busted with a self-help book in your hands, this one is for you. You Are a Badass delivers insightful, motivating goodness, minus the New-Age woo-woo cheese.

The Power of Now

A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, by Eckhart Tolle 

The Power of Now has sold over 2 million copies worldwide and has been translated into over 30 foreign languages. “Much more than simple principles and platitudes, the book takes you on an inspiring spiritual journey to find your true and deepest self. In the first chapter, Tolle introduces you to enlightenment and its natural enemy: the mind. He awakens you to your role as a creator of your pain, and shows you how to have a pain-free life by living fully in the present.” The Power of Now uses simple language and an easy question and answer format to guide you through. It’s one of those rare books with the power to create a transformational experience within you, one that can radically change your life for the better.

What is the self-help book that changed your life? Share it with us in the comments.

This post was originally published on August 10, 2019, and has since been updated.

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Comments (10)
  1. 1
    MEG TRA August 8, 2018 at 8:16 am

    Another recommendation would be “Girl Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis – – Seriously changed my life!

    • Katherine Fluor August 14, 2018 at 12:29 pm

      Oh, I’ve never read it! I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for the suggestion, Meg!

  2. 2
    NaturallyChicandFeminine August 8, 2018 at 11:27 am

    I can’t wait to look into some of these! Thanks for the suggestions.


  3. 3
    Eva August 8, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    I’m currently reading the 5 Second Rule – it’s super cheesy, but it’s working to help me make some changes to my habits and overall life trajectory. Also, I kind of have soured on that book You Being a Badass (disclaimer, I haven’t read it), but it got into the hands of my impressionable 20-year-old cousin and she subsequently quit university thinking she just has to believe in things to make it happen. A year later she is still floundering, but more obstinate than ever. Of course a book can’t be all to blame for that, but there was certainly a big change. My point is, not everyone should believe blindly in themselves at all cost, a good balance of meaningful perspective also counts for something.

    Eva | http://www.shessobright.com

  4. 4
    Tam P (@tampeezy) August 10, 2018 at 6:37 pm

    This list couldn’t have been compiled and posted at a better time. I’ve been stuck and stagnant for a while now and have been looking for a way to spruce up my life. Thanks for the suggestions!

    • Katherine Fluor August 14, 2018 at 12:28 pm

      So happy to hear this, Tam! They all truly have such great advice that I’ve found have helped me in multiple different areas of my life. Happy Reading 🙂

  5. 5
    Expedition to EuphoriaA August 14, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    Needed this. Thanks for sharing!

  6. 6
    Jessica from What To Style August 15, 2018 at 11:37 am

    Such an amazing list! I really like “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo” and I got very curious to read Gabrielle Bernstein’s book! ?

    Jessica | New post: whattostyle.blogspot.com |
    Instagram @ what_to_style

  7. 7
    Natalie Redman August 22, 2018 at 3:18 am

    Great book recommendations. Will have to give a few of these a go!