The search for meaning is an ongoing personal quest for many people. We want to live lives that are full of purpose, that allow us to understand and use the best parts of ourselves and that allow us to live our true values.

We find answers to the life questions we seek in many ways. We conduct meaningful conversations with friends. We take courses that are not only for enjoyment, but for enrichment and exploration.

We travel, which offers opportunities to help us understand ourselves and others. We study and engage in religious or spiritual practices that help us grow.

As a reader, one of the best ways I’ve found to be inspired and informed is through books. We can access books anywhere, anytime and read them at our leisure. For little or no cost, we can find books that will help us to understand ourselves in new ways and enrich our interactions with others.

Here is my round-up of some of the most thoughtful, motivational and inspiring personal development books I’ve read:

Playing Big: Finding Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message by Tara Mohr

If you have struggled with self-doubt, lack of confidence, perfectionism or fear, this is a great choice. Women often hide their brilliance with habits that hold them back. Mohr empowers you to use your inner wisdom and be confident in your knowledge and experience.

If you want to live a larger, more confident life and move forward with your aspirations, this book will be your mentor. Mohr will encourage you to own your brilliance and let your life shine.

It’s Only Too Late if You Don’t Start Now by Barbara Sher

If you think you are too old to live the life of your dreams, Barbara Sher wants to talk to you! You can rediscover the life you once dreamed of before you became a responsible adult who attended to the needs of everyone else.

Our second life can become better than our first. What would you do if you had no fear and your time belonged to you? Sher will help you discover and create a passionate, meaningful second act.

Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy

Do you think about the legacy you hope to leave? This book gives you a blueprint for designing how you want to live by beginning with the end in mind. It may seem morbid, but the system is empowering. The authors guide you through practical steps to create the life and legacy you will be proud of.

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown

At its core, this is a book about building relationships. In a divisive world, it is easy to take our ideas and back into a corner where we only seek to be with and understand people who share our vision and positions.

Brown encourages us to open up, to be vulnerable and courageous in being who we are and yet begin open to those who are culturally or ideologically different. In doing so, we can recognize our true humanity – that at the core we share many things.

The author tells us that it is hard to hate when close up – an important idea in a world where there is too much hate.

Coach Yourself to Success: 101 Tips from a Personal Coach for Reaching Your Goals at Work and in Life by Talane Miedaner

Have you ever wished for a personal life coach, but couldn’t afford to spend the money? Here is your answer. Miedaner offers a series of small but manageable steps that will help you move from where you are to where you want to be.

Her suggestions are often common sense, such as “Stop shuffling and start organizing” or “Pay off your debts.” Other suggestions, such as “Design your ideal life” or “Raise your standards” are less obvious but more empowering. This is a great choice if you are just starting down the personal development path.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Many people struggle with life balance. If you are caught in the trap of working harder and harder, trying to get everything done and craving balance in your world, this book will speak to you.

It is possible to get off the hamster wheel and filter life’s options to select only the best. Once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all and choose only the best and most important things, you can make your highest contribution towards things that really matter.

If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will do it for you. Seeking to recognize what is essential will help lead you to a life of impact and fulfillment.

The Best Year of Your Life by Debbie Ford

This is a classic self-help book and one of my favorites. Imagine yourself a year from now, feeling that you are your best self. What qualities would you need to develop in order to achieve this vision?

Ford focuses on behaviors, habits and choices that help you to become the person you hope to be. I love Ford’s question: “At the end of the day our life is in our hands. What will you do with yours?”

Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker J. Palmer

Do not let the title mislead you – this is not a book about finding a job. Rather, it is a book about creating a life. It is not a loud or flashy book filled with actionable to-do items for how to lead a better life.

Instead, it is a quiet, reflective conversation as Palmer shares his own stories as examples of how examining your life can lead you to follow your natural talents and limitations.

Parker Palmer is among the wisest people I have ever met, and If you are willing to do some soul-searching, he can guide you to find meaning and understand your own life.

Who are your favorite personal development authors? What other books have you found to be helpful as you create your ideal life? I would love to hear about them in the comments below.

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