The Top 10 Goal-Setting Books to Add to Your Reading List

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How do you set goals for yourself? Where do you even start? How do you align your goals with your values and vision for your life?

If you’re lucky, you know what you want from life and you have no doubt that this path is the right one. But if you aren’t sure, it’s never too early (or too late) to think about what goals you want to pursue in life. 

To help guide you, we’ve compiled a roundup of the best goal-setting books to add to your reading list.  

Essential Goal-Setting Books to Read

We all have things we are striving for, but not everybody has goals. Most people have dreams—abstract desires that aren’t specific or actionable enough to be goals. A goal is a target that you’re working towards with intention. 

If you’re ready to set specific, intentional goals but not sure where to start, check out our picks of the best goal-setting books from our library. 


Author Brian Tracy has traveled around the world to give thousands of seminars and talks about achieving goals—and he’s living proof that his principles work. His compelling rags-to-riches story shows just how much you can accomplish when you have a strategy for going after what you want. In Goals!, Brian Tracy outlines the goal-setting method that worked for him, which consists of changing your mindset, being clear about what you want, using the power of visualization, and keeping track of your progress.

The Magic of Thinking Big

We are surrounded by people who seem more successful than us and who earn more money than we do. We may think, “What do they have that I haven’t got? Are they just smarter?” In The Magic of Thinking Big, author David J. Schwartz says it’s a matter of mindset. Successful people “think bigger”—they believe in themselves, have a grander scale of imagination, and set more ambitious goals. And they behave accordingly — they have magnetic attitudes, prefer action to waiting, and learn from every setback. Learn the strategies and techniques that successful people use.

The Success Principles

In The Success Principles, Jack Canfield details 67 principles to help anyone achieve their goals and dreams, based on his study and interviews with hundreds of successful people. The basic formula for success is to identify what you want, know that you deserve to have it, and use the book’s principles to get you there. The book’s Principles include taking responsibility for your life, setting goals and visualizing success, facing your fears, forgiving others so you can move forward, asking for and graciously receiving feedback, and appreciating your successes.


Many successful leaders and businesspeople are lauded as “great geniuses,” but psychologist Angela Duckworth argues that talent and intelligence matter less to success than grit: the personality trait behind perseverance, hard work, and goal-setting. In Grit, she explores what grit is, where it comes from, how it drives success, and how you can develop it.

Unlimited Power

Unlimited Power is a classic self-help book that teaches you how to take control of your life. Tony Robbins claims that the key to this is ensuring that your actions, beliefs, and goals all work together and complement each other. He believes that doing so will allow you to harness a level of energy and conviction that would normally be impossible to access, and he says you can use that energy to achieve all of your goals in life.

The Art of Impossible

How is it that some people can achieve seemingly impossible feats? And how can we emulate them to make our dreams more attainable? In The Art of Impossible, bestselling author, award-winning journalist, and peak performance expert Steven Kotler draws on extensive neurobiological research to demystify the path to breakthrough success. He presents a step-by-step process for developing peak performance habits that will help you achieve your most ambitious goals.

The One Thing

In The One Thing, real estate entrepreneur Gary Keller argues that the key to extraordinary success is focusing daily on the “One Thing” that’s most important for achieving your goal, rather than scattering yourself in many directions. Keller and co-author Jay Papasan explain how to determine your goal or life purpose, then focus intensely on getting there, while avoiding pitfalls such as multitasking, relying on an unprioritized to-do list, thinking too small, misunderstanding willpower and discipline, and neglecting your personal life. 

The Slight Edge

Are you frustrated with the results of your goals? Do you want to know what the secret is to achieving long-term success? You might be surprised to learn that the secret is, in fact, quite simple. In The Slight Edge, Jeff Olson teaches that success is built over time by committing to simple, small, daily disciplines.

Smarter, Faster, Better

Smarter Faster Better explores the choices we can make to boost personal and organizational productivity. Learn how to build a productive team, how combining different types of goals can increase your productivity, and how the makers of Disney’s Frozen avoided box-office disaster by innovating productively.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People provides an inside-out approach to improving yourself and your life. This method entails examining and adjusting your character, your motives, and how you see the world in order to change how you behave and how you interact with others. Learn how to best focus your time, define your goals, and build productive relationships with other people.

Final Words

Most people agree that it’s important to set goals. But many people don’t know how to set goals effectively. If you want to learn how to set effective goals, these goal-setting books will get you off to a good start. 

If any of these books piqued your interest, you are in luck because you are just a few clicks away from diving into their wisdom. Shortform’s book guides can help you get to the key lessons quicker so you can start achieving those goals sooner!

The Top 10 Goal-Setting Books to Add to Your Reading List

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Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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