It’s safe to say that everyone experiences a moment of awakening at some point or another when you find yourself asking what you should do with your life. More often than not, this question is not met with an answer, but rather a series of additional questions.
The reality is that today, more than ever before in history, there are so many options for what to do with your life. With online and global connectivity, the opportunities to work with diverse people from around the world and with various areas of expertise are endless. While this is great news from a standpoint of prosperity, it can also lead to confusion for those who are seeking change but don’t know where to begin.
How Can You Decide What to Do With Your Life?
If you are struggling to determine what to do with your life, remember you’re not alone. Many people before you have posed this existential question. For this reason, countless experts have pulled from their own knowledge, experience and even failures to create a library of self-help books dedicated to specific topics on helping others decide what to do with their lives.
With books written on topics such as career planning, developing self-awareness, playing to your strengths, finding your passion, and how to make smarter decisions, there is no shortage of resources at your disposal. We all want to lead a life of purpose and fulfillment, and typically this is contingent on our careers and how we spend our time earning income. But you don’t have to choose between income and passion. There are ways to achieve both, and many of these books can help you to reach that balance.
The problem may be instead, how does one wade through the vast ocean of self-help books available? We’ve narrowed your search down to the top 13 books that can offer you support in deciding what to do with your life. These books are broken down into three categories: career planning, finding your life’s calling and purpose, and maintaining motivation and inspiration.
Career Planning Decisions
Whether you’re a recent grad or thinking of making a career shift, venturing into new employment can be overwhelming. You may be presented with multiple options or you may be strategizing ways to create your own opportunities.
Below are some books that can help you specifically regarding choosing and planning your dream career:
1. Do What You Are: Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type by Paul D. Tieger
Arguably one of the foundational components of knowing what to do with your life is knowing yourself more fully. This is a book crafted on this principle. Using the world-renowned Meyers-Briggs personality testing system, the author leads the reader through a self-assessment to uncover their specific personality type.
The results of this personality assessment suggest appropriate careers that are most suitable for the unique characteristics of each of the 16 personality types. By better understanding your strengths, you can be more open-minded and self-empowered in determining the focus of your career and your own needs when it comes to feeling satisfied.
2. The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success by Nicholas Lore
When you’re feeling stuck and can’t figure out how to decide what to do with your life, look no further than the career experts at the Rockport Institute. Since its inception in 1981, the Rockport Institute has helped over 14,000 people find and create their dream careers.
After accumulating so much knowledge on career planning and coaching, Founder Nicholas Lore wrote this book to provide you with tests and tools that will help you choose your career path by learning more deeply about youself.
3. Now What? The Young Person’s Guide to Choosing the Perfect Career by Nicholas Lore
It’s a common sentiment that graduates of any education level and from any institution feel after they leave the safety of the school they’ve known for months or years: Now what?
Grads of all backgrounds feel the pressure of finding the perfect job and launching themselves into a successful career path.
This is a book dedicated to helping young people specifically obtain and retain a job that makes them feel fulfilled, productive and excited all while best using their unique personalities and strengths. You might also notice this book is from the same author as The Pathfinder.
Following the same lines, this book helps you to choose a career that fits into your desired lifestyle so you can lead an all-around extraordinary life.
4. What Color Is Your Parachute? 2015: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers by Richard N. Bolles
A tremendously popular and acclaimed book, What Color is Your Parachute? offers a trove of practical tips and strategies for job hunters regarding the job market, resumes, interviews, salary negotiation, networking, and other career-specific advice.
More importantly, the book also addresses the common problem that job-seekers face, which is not knowing what they want to do. What Color is Your Parachute? helps guide you to answer this question with a self-assessment called “The Flower Exercise.” The idea is that knowing more fully who you are is the most empowering tool you can give yourself when it comes to finding the right job and reaching a sense of personal fulfillment.
Finding Your Calling and Purpose
Everyone wants to find their true calling or purpose in life. Without it, you may feel directionless. But finding one’s calling doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Many people end up second guessing themselves and whether or not their passions can be considered “real jobs” or not.
If you’re stuck with a decision about whether to pursue your passions — or how to find them in the first place — here are some books that can help shed some light on your inner-conflict:
5. Test-Drive Your Dream Job: A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding and Creating the Work You Love by Brian Kurth
Many of us only hope to achieve our dream jobs at some point in our lives. Test-Drive Your Dream Job is a book that guides you to exploring and experiencing that dream job. The book also helps you to better understand how to obtain that dream job and determine whether or not you actually want to pursue it.
By encouraging self-reflection and deeper self-discovery, author Brian Kurth helps you to recognize what makes you feel satisfied in life.
6. How to Find Fulfilling Work by Roman Krznaric
It may be that one of the biggest reasons you find yourself wondering what to do with your life is because you haven’t yet been doing work that’s meaningful to you. You may aspire to do something that makes you jump out of bed in the morning and sustains your satisfaction in life. If this is what you crave, then Roman Krznaric’s book How to Find Fulfilling Work could be the answer to that familiar question.
One of the most important obstacles that Krznaric’s book addresses is the fear of change and making that first leap. By acknowledging this mental road block, you can overcome your fear and head in the direction of a career that feels fulfilling and motivating.
7. The Power of Purpose: Find Meaning, Live Longer, Better by Richard J. Leider
Personal coach and author Richard J. Leider’s book The Power of Purpose makes the insightful claim that living with purpose leads to a longer life with greater wellness. If you’re feeling stuck, The Power of Purpose offers a discerning argument that prioritizing finding your purpose is essential to living well. This includes improving and maintaining your personal health, happiness and even your lifespan.
As humans, once we’ve found a purpose, we can live life more fully and feel as though we are part of something greater than ourselves. The Power of Purpose is a must-read for anyone who wants to refuel their daily lives and work toward something that is deeply meaningful.
8. The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna
Most of us at some point in our lives feel conflicted between what we think we should be doing and what we must do to be true to our heart’s desire. If you’ve reached this point and can’t decide which way to go in life, then The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna is the mentor you need to make this powerful decision. This book was created from the author’s own personal experience in realizing this conflict and making the choice.
This book demonstrates why it’s vital to pursue your calling — your “must” — and provides helpful tactics and tips to help take the leap.
9. Miracles Now: 108 Life-Changing Tools for Less Stress, More Flow, and Finding Your True Purpose by Gabrielle Bernstein
For those who are spiritually inclined, getting in touch with yourself on a spiritual level can be a great help in deciding what to do with your life. Gabrielle Bernstein is a world-renowned leader in meditation and spiritual wellness. Her books aim to teach readers how to reduce the stress in their lives by prioritizing their own inner wellbeing.
Miracles Now is a book with 108 tips and tools that can help the reader build inner peace and strength. From this foundation, the author believes we can all find our true purpose and have the courage and resilience to pursue it.
10. How to Find the Work You Love by Laurence G. Boldt
One of the most difficult struggles faced in life occurs when you know you need to make a change but you feel like you’re spinning your wheels. This is usually combined with not knowing where to start or being able to muster the courage to take the plunge. How to Find the Work You Love was written for those who want to make a change and need guidance on figuring out where to go.
With strategies that look at key elements of what makes work meaningful, How to Find Work That Matters guides you to better understand what is important to you.
Maintaining Your Motivation and Inspiration
Once you’ve gotten clarity on your decision to pursue a passion or career, it’s important to keep up your motivation. Without a burning desire, it can be virtually impossible to stay on track with what you want to do with your life.
The below books are designed to help you stay laser focused on your career goals and passions, so you no longer have to ask yourself what do do with your life:
11. Your Best Year Yet! Ten Questions for Making the Next Twelve Months Your Most Successful Ever by Jinny S. Ditzler
When you’ve reached the point where you’re ready to make a change, Your Best Year Yet is a guidebook that can help you map out a year’s worth of personal growth. The book is laid out in ten questions that will help direct your focus and set life-changing goals so you can design your best year yet.
The main elements of the book include learning how to generate more income, make time for important things, pursue a fulfilling career, enjoy satisfying relationships, build physical wellness, and develop spiritual abundance.
12. Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson
Don’t let the quirky title dissuade you. Who Moved My Cheese? has become a classic in workplace communication and motivation. The book demonstrates the importance of being able to deal with sudden and unexpected change in the workplace and in life.
For those who are ready to make a change in their lives, Who Moved My Cheese? offers comedic and practical advice and perspectives on why preparing for and embracing change is critical to remaining motivated and satisfied.
13. The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield
Jack Canfield, a global icon of motivation and personal achievement, is best known for his series Chicken Soup for the Soul. But Canfield has another important resource book aimed at those who are looking to make major moves in their lives. The Success Principles offers practical tips for building confidence and dealing with life challenges. The book also provides teachings on living a more passionate and purposeful life.
In fact, the book describes 64 different principles that the author has gleaned from decades of his own experience and the experience of other personal achievement experts. These “success principles” are meant to be practiced every day to propel your life forward in the direction of your dreams.
Deciding What to Do With Your Life
Though deciding what to do with your life may seem like a daunting venture, there are countless resources available to help ease the transition. Even reading just one of these 13 books listed above can help ignite your motivation, spark your self-awareness, and keep fueling you toward finding your calling and doing meaningful work.
While not everyone is fortunate enough to get to do work they love, you can be one of the few who finds their calling — and motivates others to do the same.