15 books about finding your purpose in life

15 books about finding your purpose in life

In Expert Tips, Reading Lists by Molly Hurford

15 books about finding your purpose in life

There’s no way around it: Life is full of challenges and surprises. Whether you’re setting goals, overcoming obstacles, or trying to reinvent yourself, having a sense of purpose is the best way to stay focused,grounded, and on-course, no matter what life throws your way. 

But for many of us, finding that purpose — our “why” — takes some soul-searching. Thankfully, there are plenty of books to help, from memoirs and parables to practical how-to manuals and self-improvement books. 

While any of these 15 books about finding purpose in life, work, and beyond are beneficial reads, I especially recommend The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, which offers incredible insight on living in a purpose-driven present.

1. Your Purpose-Filled Life by Amy Murphy

So you want your life to have meaning but aren’t sure how to find or make that meaning. Well, you’re certainly not alone. This course isn’t just good food for thought — it’s an actionable guide for anyone trying to find their purpose.

Use life coach Murphy’s prompts to reflect on everything from your childhood experiences to your passions to your emotions. Each discovery takes you one step closer to uncovering your north star — AKA your life’s purpose. 

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2. Ikigai by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles

What’s the secret to living a long life that’s also fulfilling? Authors Garcia and Miralles travel to a small Japanese village and Blue Zone — home to some of the longest-living people on Earth — to find out. Their answer? Ikigai, the Japanese concept of finding meaning by staying busy doing what you love. 

A blend of compelling case studies and moving conversation, Ikigai teaches us how to live longer by finding our purpose.

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3. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

If you’re thinking about what’s going to happen later today, tomorrow, next year, or in the coming decade, and not attuned to what’s happening now, you need this book. Tolle argues that living in the present (rather than the future) is the key to a purpose-driven, successful life. 

We tend to think that we'll start working towards our purpose at some fuzzy point in the future, but Tolle’s book reminds us to focus on this very moment. 


4. The Purpose Map by Justin Lee

I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling overwhelmed or confused, I grab a pen. There’s just something about seeing things in writing: It brings clarity and calm to what was once a jumbled mental mess. You can apply that same strategy when determining your purpose, with help from this Scribd Coach course.

In The Purpose Map, Lee walks listeners through crafting a “purpose statement” to clarify your mission and how it makes the world a better place. In less than an hour, Lee will have you well on your way to understanding and defining your purpose. 

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Stepping away from the culture of toxic positivity, Manson’s less-than-conventional self-help book delivers a bluntly honest approach to letting go of what brings you down and focusing instead on what you’re passionate about. Only when we stop worrying about the “right” way to live can we find a purpose that fulfills and inspires us.

If you tend to shy away from self-help because it’s too touchy-feely, this is the book for you. But, as the title suggests, expect a lot of straight-talk — and cursing.


6. Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy

While technically in the self-help category, Living Forward is more of a roadmap with practical directions to help find your purpose. 

Most of us, the authors explain, suffer from “drift.” We fall into comfortable, predictable lives and rarely stop to check in and see how we’re feeling, or if we’re moving in the right direction. When we notice that something feels off, it’s typically because we’ve lost our sense of purpose. 

Hyatt and Harkavy teach you how to find that purpose again — and how to start living the life you want. 


7. Your Goal Guide by Debra Eckerling

It may be easy to make a list of things you want to accomplish — the goals that give your life meaning — but actually achieving them isn’t always as simple. 

Ecklerling’s short and straightforward goal-setting guide is here to help. This book is especially beneficial if you have a rough idea about your purpose but aren’t sure how to make it happen. In just a couple of hours, you’ll have a clear set of steps to start living for your “why.”

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8. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

You can’t write a list of books about purpose without including The Alchemist. Coelho’s modern parable has sold hundreds of millions of copies and is a fantastic reminder that much of life’s purpose is found in the journey, not the destination. 

This is a heavily spiritual novel, but the lessons are applicable in every area of life. Follow along as Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd who yearns for adventure and pursues a worldly treasure. Along the way, his quest transforms into one of self-discovery. 


9. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

What if your purpose is — wait for it — to be happier? We only get one life, after all, so why waste it on things we don’t value? After coming to this conclusion, Rubin embarked on a year-long experiment of finding creative ways to boost her happiness.

Funny, moving, thoughtful, and highly relatable, this bestselling memoir may just inspire you to reevaluate how you spend your time, energy, and money — and to make adjustments that align with your purpose.


Take a meandering cross-country ride across America — and through many philosophical topics. In the spiritual journey that is this memoir, the craft of motorcycle maintenance during a father-son trip leads to an absurdly beautiful process for reconciling some of the biggest questions human beings grapple with, including our purpose and meaning. 

If you want to investigate what it means to really live and how to live better, this classic and life-changing text is worth a read. In fact, it’s one of the best books on finding purpose out there.


11. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Often, finding our purpose requires pushing ourselves outside that familiar comfort zone. In Year of Yes, Rhimes — the TV legend behind series like Grey’s Anatomy and Bridgerton — teaches readers how to do just that. 

Rhimes shares how her year of saying yes changed her life for the better. This book is a great reminder that, sometimes, you need to try new things and get uncomfortable to discover what truly feeds your soul. 


12. Life on Purpose by Victor J. Strecher

As noted with books like Ikigai earlier in this list, having a life purpose isn’t just fulfilling: finding meaning and contentment can also improve your health and extend your longevity. Life on Purpose lays out the scientific research that points to the physical benefits of purpose. It also offers critical steps for discovering meaning in your life by using Strecher’s SPACE framework (Sleep, Presence, Activity, Creativity, and Eating). 

This book is an urgent call-to-action and a foundation for living better, longer, and with more intention. Think of it as solving the “why” behind your “why.”


13. The Power Within You by Mamta Gera

Negativity becomes a habit before you know it, clouding your joy and your ability to live meaningfully and purposefully. Consultant and wellbeing coach Gera helps you identify those negative cycles and, through greater awareness, reprogram your thought patterns. 

Once you break free from the mindset that’s holding you back, you’re primed and ready to live up to your potential with a more meaningful and fulfilling life. 

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14. Barking Up the Wrong Tree by Eric Barker

Many of us feel aimless because we see others achieving what we believe to be success, and we compare ourselves to impossible ideals. Good news: Success and purpose aren’t exactly what you think they are. 

This book is a great read if you're feeling down about your current status in life and need reassurance that you're not as far from success as you may think. Barker’s counterintuitive advice (backed by surprising studies) will guide you when setting goals and determining your purpose.


15. Creative Calling by Chase Jarvis

For many people, creativity is a major part of their life’s purpose. That doesn’t just mean painting on a canvas or drawing on a sketchpad, either: Being creative can include anything from playing with your kids to writing a novel to building a stellar website.

As Jarvis explains, life isn’t about finding success or fulfillment, but creating it. Even if you haven’t established your exact purpose, letting your creativity blossom may help you discover what feeds your soul. 


About the Author: Molly Hurford

Molly is a writer and bookworm in love with all things wellness related. When not playing outside, she’s writing or podcasting about being outside and healthy habits for The Consummate Athlete. She also writes books, including the Shred Girls series. In her spare time, she runs, rides bikes, and hikes with her mini-dachshund and husband.