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12 Life Changing Books: For a Year of Self-Improvement

12 Great Personal Development Books

“We often overestimate what we can do in a day, but underestimate what we can do in a year.”

Finding time to learn and improve yourself can be difficult. Busy lives mean that self-development constantly gets pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. Self-development then becomes an insurmountable task that’s difficult to start.

But what if you were to dedicate just 10-15 minutes per day to reading or listening to a book? What if you just read one page per day? Each day would be a day you’d dedicated to improving yourself, over the course of a year this would add up. 

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Dale Carnegie

First published in 1936, Dale Carnegie’s, How to Win Friends and Influence People is one of the best-selling books of all time. The book has stood the test of time and has been updated over the years. 

The book promises to: 

  1. Get you out of a mental rut, give you new thoughts, new visions, new ambitions.
  2. Enable you to make friends quickly and easily.
  3. Increase your popularity.
  4. Help you to win people to your way of thinking.
  5. Increase your influence, your prestige, your ability to get things done.
  6. Enable you to win new clients, new customers.
  7. Increase your earning power.
  8. Make you a better salesman, a better executive.
  9. Help you to handle complaints, avoid arguments, keep your human contacts smooth and pleasant.
  10. Make you a better speaker, a more entertaining conversationalist.
  11. Make the principles of psychology easy for you to apply in your daily contacts.
  12. Help you to arouse enthusiasm among your associates.


Robert Cialdini

Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence, explores the psychology of why people say “yes” to requests. Cialdini identified six principles of persuasion, which he discusses in the book: reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity. Cialdini argues that understanding and utilizing these principles can lead to more effective persuasion.


Cialdini begins by discussing the principle of reciprocity, which states that people are obligated to repay favors, gifts, and invitations. He argues that this principle can be used to influence people by offering them something first. Cialdini then discusses the principle of commitment and consistency, which states that people are more likely to honor agreements and commitments that they have made, even if those commitments are not in their best interest. He argues that this principle can be used to influence people by getting them to make a small commitment first, which will then lead them to make larger commitments. Cialdini then discusses the principle of social proof, which states that people are more likely to do something if they see others doing it. He argues that this principle can be used to influence people by providing them with evidence that others are doing what you want them to do. Cialdini then discusses the principle of authority, which states that people are more likely to do what someone in a position of authority tells them to do. He argues that this principle can be used to influence people by establishing your authority on the subject. Cialdini then discusses the principle of liking, which states that people are more likely to comply with requests from people that they like. He argues that this principle can be used to influence people by making them like you first. Cialdini then discusses the principle of scarcity, which states that people place a higher value on things that are scarce. He argues that this principle can be used to influence people by making them think that what you are offering is scarce.


Cialdini’s book provides a detailed and persuasive explanation of the psychology of persuasion. By understanding and utilizing the six principles of persuasion, readers can learn to be more effective persuaders.

The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich

Timothy Ferriss

In his book, The 4-Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss claims that it is possible for people to work only four hours a week and still live a rich and fulfilling life.

He argues that most people waste far too much time on things that are not important, and that by carefully planning and prioritizing one’s time, it is possible to achieve far more in a shorter period of time.

Ferriss provides a number of tips and strategies for how to achieve this, and his book has become a bestseller, inspiring people around the world to reassess their work-life balance.

Made to Stick: Why some ideas take hold and others come unstuck

Chip Heath

The book examines why some ideas “stick” in our minds while others fade away. The authors explore the mechanisms of why certain ideas are more “sticky” than others and suggest ways to make ideas more memorable.

The book consists of six chapters:

1. The Curse of Knowledge: The authors explain how our ability to understand complex ideas is limited by the knowledge we already have. We cannot explain ideas to others if we cannot simplify them ourselves.

2. The Stickiness Factor: The authors identify six factors that make an idea more “sticky”: simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotion, and stories.

3. The Case for Convenience: The authors argue that people are more likely to act on an idea if it is convenient for them.

4. The Power of Context: The authors explain how the context in which an idea is presented can impact its stickiness.

5. The Case for Emotion: The authors argue that ideas are more likely to stick if they evoke an emotional response.

6. The Case for Stories: The authors explain how stories can be used to make ideas more memorable.

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

James Clear

Atomic Habits is a book about how to change your habits and get the results you want.

The book is divided into four sections:

  1. The Habits of Successful People
  2. The Foundations of Habits
  3. How to Build Good Habits
  4. How to Break Bad Habits.

The first section looks at the habits of successful people and how they’ve been able to achieve their goals. The second section looks at the science of habit formation and how to create lasting change. The third section provides practical advice on how to build good habits and make them stick. The fourth section offers strategies for breaking bad habits and replacing them with good ones.

Black Box Thinking: The Surprising Truth About Success

Matthew Syed

In Black Box Thinking, Matthew Syed argues that the best way to avoid catastrophic failures is to learn from small ones. He cites the example of the airline industry, which has made great strides in safety by studying every crash, no matter how minor.

Syed argues that we need to adopt this same “black box” approach in other areas of life, such as medicine and education. He cites the example of a hospital in Virginia that reduced the rate of deadly infections by adopting a culture of openness, where doctors and nurses felt free to report errors and near-misses.

Syed argues that we need to embrace failure and learn from it, in order to avoid future disasters.

The Like Switch: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Influencing, Attracting, and Winning People Over

Jack Schafer

The book, The Like Switch, is all about the science of building rapport and relationships with others.

The book starts off by discussing the importance of building rapport and how it can be used to improve your life. It then goes into detail about the different ways to build rapport, including body language, voice tone, and eye contact.

The book also talks about how to use rapport to influence others and get them to like you.

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as If Your Life Depended on It

Chris Voss

Never Split the Difference is a book about the art of negotiation, written by former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss. The book is based on Voss’ experience of conducting more than 150 international hostage negotiations, and draws on academic research to provide practical advice on how to successfully negotiate in various situations.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part provides an overview of the principles of negotiation, including the importance of understanding the other side’s interests, of creating value through concessions, and of anchoring. The second part applies these principles to specific negotiation scenarios, such as salary negotiations, business negotiations, and conflict resolution. The third and final part offers advice on how to avoid common pitfalls in negotiation, such as the sunk cost fallacy and the escalation of commitment.

Never Split the Difference is an important book for anyone who wants to learn the art of negotiation. The book’s clear and concise writing makes it easy to understand and apply the principles of negotiation to real-world situations.

The Now Habit: A Strategic Program for Overcoming Procrastination and Enjoying Guilt-Free Play

Neil Fiore, Ph.D

The Now Habit is a book about how to break the procrastination habit. The book is divided into three parts: understanding procrastination, overcoming procrastination, and developing the habit of now.

Part one of the book looks at the causes of procrastination and why it is so difficult to break the habit. Part two looks at strategies for overcoming procrastination, including developing a support network, setting deadlines, and using rewards. Part three looks at developing the habit of now, which includes developing a personal mission statement and setting goals.

The book is important to read because it provides practical advice for overcoming procrastination. It also helps readers understand the causes of procrastination and how to develop the habit of now.

Thinking Fast and Slow

Daniel Kahneman

Thinking Fast and Slow is a book by psychologist Daniel Kahneman that was published in 2011.

The book is about the two systems that Kahneman believes control the way people think.

The first system is the fast, intuitive system that is responsible for emotions and snap judgments.

The second system is the slower, more logical system that is responsible for more thoughtful decision making. Kahneman argues that the two systems are in conflict with each other and that people often make bad decisions because they rely too much on the fast system.

The book has been praised by many reviewers and has won several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Stephen R Covey

The book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is a self-help book written by Stephen Covey.

The book is based on Covey’s belief that the seven habits are essential to success.

The first three habits, “Be Proactive,” “Begin with the End in Mind,” and “Put First Things First” focus on taking initiative and being goal-oriented.

The fourth habit, “Think Win-Win,” is based on the belief that success comes from cooperation, not competition.

The fifth habit, “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood,” is based on the principle of empathy.

The sixth habit, “Synergize,” is based on the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The seventh and final habit, “Sharpen the Saw,” is based on the principle of continuous improvement.

Six Pillars Of Self-Esteem: The Definitive Work on Self-Esteem by the Leading Pioneer in the Field

Nathaniel Branden Ph.D.

Nathaniel Branden’s Six Pillars of Self-Esteem is a classic book on the subject, first published in 1994. In it, Branden sets out his stall on what self-esteem is, how to achieve it, and how important it is for overall wellbeing.

Self-esteem, he argues, is primarily about how we see and value ourselves. It’s not about being arrogant or self-absorbed, but about having a healthy respect for ourselves and our own worth. We need to learn to love and accept ourselves just as we are, warts and all.

To achieve this, Branden suggests six key pillars: living consciously, self-acceptance, self-responsibility, self-assertiveness, purposefulness, and integrity. He goes into detail on each of these, explaining how they can help us to build self-esteem.

The book is well-written and easy to follow, with plenty of practical advice. It’s an essential read for anyone interested in improving their self-esteem.


  1. Carl

    I’ve read a few of the books on this list, out of all of them, The Now Habit was the one that changed my life the most!

    Learning to separate my time and make time for enjoyment was a game-changer for me. I’ve also read Eat that Frog which is kind of similar but didn’t make it onto your list!

    • The Art of Training

      Yes, the idea of guilt free play is so important. Making that time to enjoy life does help focus the mind when you want to be productive.


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