Welcome to The Golden Girl–a real girl approach to living your best life! (Because the internet needed a happy medium between real life and the highlight reel.)

learn more >

currently loving

shop all favorites

Best Motivational Books for Women with Big Dreams

Mar 7, 2019

You and I, us–we have a lot in common (duh ??)–and one of them is that we both LOVE books. (We also both love Trader Joe’s, cute dogs, and Blondo boots, but I digress. ?)

Reading is one of my biggest joys in life. I read a lot of fiction (especially historical fiction. See my huge reading list right here) but I also love reading motivational/career books.  After my little career chat on Instagram stories last weekend where I gave you guys an idea of how I make money as a blogger/talked about business in general (it’s saved in my highlights if you want to watch)–I got such an overwhelmingly positive response–it sounds like you guys want more motivational and career content! (And I’m happy to give it to you!) 

I figured this post was the perfect way to marry the two–books AND career. ?I was drafting up a list of my favorite motivational books, and I decided to pop on Instagram and ask what YOUR favorites are as well–see my recommendations, and your most popular suggestions listed below! 

Best Motivational Books for Women with Big Dreams, Goals, and Vision: 

My personal favorites: 

High Performance Habits by Brendan Burchard 

This book will change your life. It made me realize how much WORK and PLANNING is involved to be a high performer. And by that, I mean, someone who excels in business and in life. Brendan Burchard is one of my favorite people to follow–his business advice is so incredibly powerful and he makes you realize that as long as you implement a few simple habits in everything you do, there is nothing that you can’t achieve. I also highly HIGHLY recommend his High Performance Planner! I use it every day!

Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be

Rachel Hollis is probably my #1 favorite person to follow ever. I love her books, I love her podcast. Everything she says slaps you upside the face its so true. If you ever need motivation for real life, and advice on how to get out of your own head and get your sh*t together–look no further than Rachel Hollis.

Anyway, about the book… I’m listening to it on Audible right now and I think this is one every woman needs to read or listen to. (I particularly love Audible for business/self help type books because they’re basically like extended podcasts!)

Reader Liz describes Girl Wash Your Face as fantastic, because “It puts concepts I already knew into words that I could follow.” She also just released Girl Stop Apologizing, which I also can’t wait to read! 

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert: 

I love, LOVE this book. think it’s a great book for anyone wishing to “live creatively” as she puts it. And by that, she makes sure to reiterate, that doesn’t necessarily mean “pursuing a life that is professionally or exclusively devoted to the arts,” but “living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.”

My favorite part of the book is when she talks about great ideas. They are separate entities from us, and if an idea comes to you, and you don’t act on it, it will shop around for someone that will. Ever had a great idea you never acted on, only to be scrolling through Instagram to find out someone else has? Bingo. This has happened to me more times than I can count, and is such a good reminder that if I don’t act on my good ideas, someone else is going to.

I just love that this book allows you to view the act of living life through such fresh eyes.

Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg

I actually read Lean In after I had left my corporate job, but I still think it was beneficial. I think EVERY woman who works in a corporate job needs to read this book. Many of you said this literally changed your life. 

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun–by Gretchen Rubin. 

I was so glad when a few readers threw out this book–it’s one of my absolute favorites. Actually, I need to read it again! I love this review that I think describes it perfectly: 

“Packed with fascinating facts about the science of happiness and rich examples of how she improves her life through changes small and big The Happiness Project made me happier by just reading it.” (Amy Scribner, Bookpage)

Her book, Better than Before, was also recommended and is all about making and breaking habits! 

Becoming by Michelle Obama: 

Obviously this was a popular one–I’m reading this right now and there are so many valuable, real-life lessons. You can’t NOT be inspired by Michelle’s life story and career. 

Other reader favorites: 

The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins: 

Quite a few readers recommended The 5 Second Rule, but I actually heard about this first on Rachel Hollis’ podcast, and she says she implements this ALL the time–it’s definitely next up on my list! 

In The 5 Second Rule, you’ll discover it takes just five seconds to: Become confident, Break the habit of procrastination and self-doubt, Beat fear and uncertainty, Stop worrying and feel happier, Share your ideas with courage. The 5 Second Rule is a simple, one-size-fits-all solution for the one problem we all face—we hold ourselves back.

Literally anything by Brene Brown

Rising Strong and Daring Greatly were named numerous times! Reader Emma says “I read a chapter from one of her books every morning.” Now THAT is being intentional! How have I never read Brene Brown’s books? I’ve known who she is forever, I’ve watched lot’s of interviews with her–but I think I need to dive into her books ASAP! 

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

This is one that is also on my nightstand that I’m slowly making my way through. It’s probably the most unique book I’ve ever read. You will laugh, cry, and be inspired by so many stories from real life people, and Strayed’s advice-column style answers to them. I will say, there are times in the book when I feel like she makes her responses too much about her own demons, but overall, I think it’s still a really good read and an excellent reminder that life always goes on, despite how hard it can get at times. 

It’s really hard to describe, so I’ll leave to the Amazon description: 

Life can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member, you can’t pay the bills—and it can be great: you’ve had the hottest sex of your life, you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar—the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpus, now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild—is the person thousands turn to for advice.

You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, by life coach Jen Sincero

I’ve always been curious about this book, which I’ve also heard about in passing quite a bit. The Amazon description DEF has me fired up to give it a read: 

In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, bestselling author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bitesized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word, helping you to: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, Create a life you totally love. And create it NOW, Make some damn money already. The kind you’ve never made before.

By the end of You Are a Badass, you’ll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, how to change what you don’t love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass.

This is me: Loving the person you are today by Chrissy Metz 

I had never heard of this one before (probably because I’m the only person on the planet who doesn’t watch This is Us–which the author stars in)–but it sounds very inspirational and is a #1 New York Times Bestseller! Here’s the description: 

In This is Me, Chrissy Metz shares her story with a raw honesty that will leave readers both surprised but also inspired. Infused with the same authenticity she brings to her starring role. Chrissy’s This is Me is so much more than your standard Hollywood memoir or collection of personal essays. She embraces the spirit of Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes. Also, she shares how she has applied the lessons she learned from both setbacks and successes. A born entertainer, Chrissy finds light in even her darkest moments. In addition, she leaves the reader feeling they are spending time with a friend who gets it.

Choose Wonder over Worry by Amber Rae 

Reader Jessica highly recommended this read–which I hadn’t heard of before, but author Amber Rae has been called “The Elizabeth Gilbert of her generation.” About working through fear, uncertainty and self doubt. 

Why do we hold back from pursuing what matters most? Why do we listen to the voice inside our head that tells us we’re not good enough, smart enough, or talented enough? How can we move beyond the fear and doubt that prevents us from creating a life that reflects who we truly are?

CHOOSE WONDER OVER WORRY is your official invitation to face your fears, navigate your discomfort, and rewrite the “worry myths” in your mind that keep you from being your best and truest self.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

I loved this book, which is an autobiography that I wouldn’t say has a ton of practical advice, but is a fun, inspirational read. (I mean, obviously, it’s Amy Pohler!). Also, I wasn’t surprised when I saw it come up over and over again with readers. Reader Andie says, “She’s the perfect example of a strong, smart, funny woman!” 

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How To Make The Most of Them NOW by Meg Jay 

SO MANY OF YOU recommended this one, all about your twenties and how to make the most of them. Many of you described it as life changing and wished you would’ve read it earlier! Am I too late to the party to read it at thirty?! 

Our “thirty-is-the-new-twenty” culture tells us the twentysomething years don’t matter. Some say they are a second adolescence. Others call them an emerging adulthood. Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist, argues that twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation, much of which has trivialized what is actually the most defining decade of adulthood.

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz 

Reader Jay says, “It helps you realize that the way we think is wrong and how to fix it.” 

In The Four Agreements, bestselling author don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, The Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love.

#GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso 

I feel like you couldn’t look anywhere on Instagram without seeing this book a few years back. Called “Lean in for misfits” and a NYT bestseller, #Girlboss is the incredible story of Sophia Amoruso on how she went from selling clothes on eBay to make ends meet to launching Nastygal. I haven’t read this, but obviously have heard good things! 

Three Cups of Tea: Greg Mortenson

Reader Eden suggested this book–which I had heard of but never knew what it’s about (it sounds INCREDIBLE). “It makes you realize that anyone can make a difference if they commit,” she says. Here’s the description: 

Anyone who despairs of the individual’s power to change lives has to read the story of Greg Mortenson, a homeless mountaineer who, following a 1993 climb of Pakistan’s treacherous K2, was inspired by a chance encounter with impoverished mountain villagers and promised to build them a school.

Over the next decade he built fifty-five schools—especially for girls—that offer a balanced education in one of the most isolated and dangerous regions on earth. As it chronicles Mortenson’s quest, which has brought him into conflict with both enraged Islamists and uncomprehending Americans, Three Cups of Teacombines adventure with a celebration of the humanitarian spirit.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*CK by Mark Manson

One reader said, “I love that it’s about prioritizing your focus and isn’t too self-helpy!” Here’s the description from Amazon: 

Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings are flawed and limited—”not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault.” Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek.

Have you read any of these books? Have they helped you grow and get out of your comfort zone? Would love to hear your other favorites! 

Also worth reading: How to Make Friends in a New City, Networking advice: Stop asking people to coffee 

Keep reading...