15 Best Goal Setting Books to Read

goal setting booksMost people live their lives drifting from one day to the next. Their goals change but are rarely sought after with vision and purpose.

What sets high achievers apart from those who continue in their regular “life is happening to me” routine, is effective goal setting.

Having clarity and a mapped plan for what one really wants in life is an exhilarating and motivating process.

Once life goals are clear, actionable, and measurable, one can pursue them with certainty that those goals will be reached. There are countless materials out there to lead one toward setting their best life goals.

The following are the most highly rated on Amazon.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Goal Achievement Exercises for free. These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients create actionable goals and master techniques to create lasting behavior change.

10 Best Books on Goal Setting to Read

We kick off our list with a selection of the ‘Top 10’.

1. Creating Your Best Life: The Ultimate Life List Guide – Caroline Adams Miller and Michael B. Frisch

Creating Your Best LifeBy utilizing research in various areas of science and in positive psychology, in particular, Caroline Miller takes the approach to goal setting beyond setting SMART goals.

She weaves rich tales of goal accomplishment and happiness in with goal setting exercises. This book creates an interactive and engaging way to view life’s goals and achievement.

“Your life is a sacred journey. It is about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way. You are on the path… exactly where you are meant to be right now…And from here, you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph, of courage, of beauty, of wisdom, of power, of dignity, and of love.”

Available from Amazon.

2. Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals – Michael Hyatt

Your Best Year EverMichael Hyatt creates a clear, research-based approach to finding purpose and setting meaningful goals.

Whether it’s a personal, relationship, business, or financial goal; Hyatt’s field-tested results help people overcome their day-to-day struggles to reach their full potential. This book helps to envision the reader’s best year ever, even setting up ways to get unstuck and “quit proof” the goals.

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.

By reaching for what appears to be impossible, we often actually do the impossible; and even when we don’t make it, we inevitably wind up doing much better than we would have done.

Available from Amazon.

3. The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future – Skip Prichard

The Book of MistakesMr. Prichard uses his gifts as a storyteller to weave this tale about a young man discovering the 9 mistakes that highly successful people don’t make.

One of the first mistakes is living someone else’s dream. A person who knows exactly who they want to be, will do the things that that person would do.

Expressing thankfulness energizes, enhances, and empowers.

Make it your mission to encourage everyone who crosses your path.

Suffering often clarifies what really matters in life.

Available from Amazon.

4. Nine Things Successful People Do Differently – Heidi Grant Halvorson

Things Successful People DoGoal achievement research has shown that what you do is more important than what you have. In her research backed book, Heidi Grant Halvorson outlines the 9 things successful people do differently.

  1. Get specific
  2. Seize the moment to act on your goals
  3. Know exactly where the goal line is
  4. Be a realistic optimist
  5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good
  6. Have the willingness to commit to long term goals. In other words, have grit.
  7. Build your willpower
  8. Don’t tempt fate
  9. Focus on what you will do

She goes in depth into each of these 9 topics. It serves as a guide to improving goal achievement from a can-do, long-term focus. Creating alternatives to what you aren’t willing to do and replacing them with what you are willing to do, gets readers on track to achieving what they want in life.

Available from Amazon.

5. Big Potential: Five Secrets of Reaching Higher by Powering Those Around You – Shawn Achor

Big Potential

This book highlights the team aspect of goal achievement. Mr. Anchor stresses the difference between small potential, which is individual achievement, and big potential which is achievement with others.

We are all influenced by those around us, and when we help others improve they do the same for those around them, in turn expanding the potential.

You are what you read. And science confirms this. Researchers from Dartmouth and Ohio State found that when you become engrossed with a book you may actually begin to not just identify with, but actually take on some of the traits and characteristics of, the main character. For example, if you read a book about someone with a strong social conscience, your likelihood of doing something socially conscientious rises.

Available from Amazon.

6. The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul – Danielle LaPorte

The Desire MapThis book is a slightly different path from the previous material.

Danielle LaPorte’s creation is a program for goal setting that focuses on getting in touch with feelings and letting the outer goal achievement grow from there. The work is a life focus for goal setting that allows purpose to play a role in motivation.

When we want to feel courageous more than we want to check accomplishments off our list … When we want to feel free more than we want to please other people … When we want to feel good more than we want to look good … then we’ve got our priorities in order. Divine priorities—the kind that will steer you to the life you long for most deeply.

Available from Amazon.

7. Hard Goals: The Secret to Getting From Where You Are To Where You Want To Be – Mark Murphy

Hard GoalsThis book is written from the perspective of well accomplished Executive Coach Mark Murphy. His concept in goal setting is that the goals to be set should be more than “ho-hum” type of goals.

To reach great potential the goals must match an inner desire. If you really want to change the world, you have to set a goal that would change the world. Goals that challenge and stretch a person are said to be more fulfilling.

Expressing intense feelings usually portends better results than emotional detachment does. Just remember, nobody ever washed a rental car (which means that if you don’t own it, you’re not going to put much effort into it).

Available from Amazon.

8. How To Win Friends And Influence People – Dale Carnegie and Digital Fire

How To Win Friends

This classic book has been helping people reach their goals since its release in 1936. The content remains relevant in today’s modern, technological world.

Dale Carnegie’s principles have brought many famous people to their highest potential and mastery in goal setting and achievement.

It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.

Available from Amazon.

9. The Power of Positive Thinking – Norman Vincent Peale

The Power of Positive ThinkingThis book was created to help people live more fulfilling and peaceful lives, all while pursuing and achieving life goals. While positivity alone is not a creator of happiness, an optimistic mindset allows the brain to broaden and build.

This book gives some tips on developing a positive mindset and has influenced many famous people, including several past presidents.

The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.

Available from Amazon.

10. The Art Of Setting Smart Goals: Set winning goals and live a life of abundance, success, and achievement – Anisa Marku

The Art of Setting Smart GoalsCreating a habit change is a major part of setting and achieving goals.

This how-to book gives step by step actions to take in the pursuit of what, why, and how you will achieve them.

The SMART goal concept is a significant work in goal setting and achievement. It is a solid framework to create and achieve any type of goal.

Available from Amazon.

3 Top Goal Setting Workbooks

Workbooks makes the practical application og goal-setting so much easier. See our recommendations.

1. You Goal, Girl: A Goal-Setting Workbook – Melissa Bowles and Elise Williams Rikard

You Goal, GirlThis interactive workbook makes goal setting a breeze.

With actionable steps to follow, moving the user toward their own personal goals, it is a great book to have when in pursuit of success.

It combines productivity and motivation in a day by day book to keep the user on track and heading toward goal achievement.

Available from Amazon.

2. Goal Getter (A Productivity Journal): A Daily Goal Setting Planner and Organizer with Inspirational and Motivational Quotes – Modern Scripts Designs

Goal GetterThis productivity journal by Modern Script Designs is a beautiful book created to help the user accomplish all of their daily tasks.

It helps with organization and even includes motivational and inspirational quotes along the way. Many ladies will like this journal because it’s so pretty and well put together.

Available from Amazon.


3. Every Kid’s Guide to Goals: How to Choose, Set, and Achieve Goals That Matter To You – Karleen Tauszik

Every Kid's Guide to GoalsThis interactive book helps kids decide for themselves what they want to pursue and master with regard to goals.

Putting kids in the driver’s seat of their own goal setting gives them the independence to choose what goals are important to them, giving them the internal motivation to pursue them.

With worksheets and plans for possible obstacles, it is a great book for kids to plan for the best and the worst-case scenarios.

Available from Amazon.

Recommended Goal-Setting Books for Students

Students experience a lot of pressure, be it from family, peers, educators or themselves. Goal-setting books that will help students stay focused despite the noise, includes the following:

1. The Third Door: The Wild Quest to Uncover How the World’s Most Successful People Launched Their Careers – Alex Banayan

The Third DoorThis book is the journey of an 18-year-old through the tales of various successful people. It talks about the opportunities that present themselves in an alternative way to the path most taken.

The success stories discussed in this fun book all took the “third door” as a way to enter the party, so to speak. It’s a fun story showing that thinking outside the box can lead to great success.

Available from Amazon.

2. How to Achieve Big PHAT Goals – Dean Lindsay

How to Achieve Big PHAT GoalsAccording to previous users, this book should be in the hands of every Middle and High Schooler out there.

It teaches kids to align their goals with their values, igniting change and internal motivation.

The PHAT in the title stands for “Pretty Hot And Tempting” goals.

This book is a step-by-step guide to achieving those goals.

Available from Amazon.

Download 3 Free Goals Exercises (PDF)

These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients create actionable goals and master techniques for lasting behavior change.

Goal Setting Picture and Sticker Books for Elementary Students

To establish a habit of setting attainable and healthy goals, we recommend the following books for the younger students:

1. The Easy-to-Read Little Engine that Could (The Little Engine That Could) – Watty Piper

The Little Engine That CouldThe classic book from the 1930s that told the tale of a little, blue train who harnessed the power of positive thinking is a perfect introduction to goal setting for young readers.

Teaching the basis of overcoming obstacles at an early age gives a foundation for tough obstacles in later life.

Great life lessons can be learned from that self-propelled wee engine.

Available from Amazon.

2. Salt In His Shoes: Michael Jordan In Pursuit of a Dream – Deloris Jordan, Roslyn M. Jordan, and Kadir Nelson

Salt In His ShoesThis picture book details the hope and faith that helped basketball superstar Michael Jordan to pursue and reach his dreams.

Lessons in perseverance and overcoming self-doubt are impactful for teaching mindset and its importance in goal setting.

The hard work that comes with the pursuit of greatness is highlighted well in this special story.

Available from Amazon.

3. Giraffes Can’t Dance – Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees

Giraffes Can’t DanceThis heartwarming story is of an unlikely candidate in the world of dance.

The main character doesn’t have the easy ability of becoming a great dancer, but he has the heart to pursue his dream.

With passion, persistence, and encouragement this character shows young readers how to go after what they want.

Available from Amazon.

4. Success Kids: Goal Setting: Roger’s New Bike – Mr. Roger Bush

Success Kids: Goal SettingThis great picture book takes the reader through an achievement success story.

While many people don’t live their lives with purpose and vision, this young success seeker does, and his story inspires readers to find the same kind of pursuit in their own lives.

It is complete with a goal setting worksheet.

Available from Amazon.

5. Toiing Goal Mapper: Calendar With Goal Mapper Book – Toiing

Toiing Goal MapperThis interactive calendar helps kids break down their goals.

With smaller, more actionable steps to take and map with stickers, each kid can have fun in reaching their personal goals.

Tracking goals with stickers in a fun and actionable way gives kids a road map to success.

Available from Amazon.

Notebooks and Journals to Aid in the Goal-Setting Process

Diaries, journals and planners to aid the goal-setting process are invaluable. See the following helpful aids:

1. The 100-Day Goal Journal: Accomplish What Matters to You – John Lee Dumas

The 100-Day Goal JournalThis hardcover journal gives a guide for anyone seeking to create change in their daily lives. It uses daily pages to hold the user accountable.

Increasing productivity, focus, discipline, and self-mastery are said to be accomplished in 100 days with the help of this interactive journal.

Available from Amazon.

2. My 66-Day Habit Challenge Tracker & Goal Planner: A Daily Journal to Help You Track Your Habits and Achieve Your Dream Life – Happy Books Hub

My 66-Day Habit ChallengeThis guided journal is based on the assumption that a new habit takes approximately 66 days to achieve.

It helps its user to get crystal clear on desired habit change and sets the user up for accomplishing that change.

This book allows for missteps, which is helpful because its users are real-life human beings, who will make mistakes along the way.

Available from Amazon.

3. My Simple Book of Goals: Goal-Setting Journal for Youth (Goal setting for youth and teens) – Alicia Hadley

My Simple Book of GoalsHolding kids’ attention, where goals are concerned, can prove to be a bit of a tall task.

This interactive journal gives kids the driver’s seat for their own personal goals.

It includes motivational quotes and interactive pages to keep them on track.

Available from Amazon.

4. Big Life Journal: A Growth Mindset Journal for Children

Big Life JournalThis is a wonderful undertaking for children in the realm of applied positive psychology.

It outlines stories, poems, and other inspirational mediums to guide kids at their own pace in reaching their potential. It outlines journal prompts for goal setting, as well as mindfulness, gratitude, and overall emotional wellbeing.

It comes in two different versions for different age groups and is highly recommended to help kids develop the growth mindset that is necessary for any goal to be achieved.

Available from Amazon.

Relevant Resources (on our Blog)

Our writers work hard to give our readers the best possible scientific sources in positive psychology for which to pursue their goals. The following resources from our blog are all goal setting resources provided by our writers at Positive Psychology.

If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others reach their goals, this collection contains 17 validated motivation & goals-achievement tools for practitioners. Use them to help others turn their dreams into reality by applying the latest science-based behavioral change techniques.

A Take-Home Message

Success doesn’t happen by accident. People who are high achievers have similar habits and one of them is effective goal setting. Anyone can achieve their life goals, but creating those life goals with absolute clarity and pursuing them with the understanding that mistakes and missteps will happen along the way, are exercises in resilience.

The books and resources listed above are hopefully a great place to start in choosing where one might look to begin a journey toward goal achievement. Success is defined as the accomplishment of an aim or a purpose. It is the individual who must define that aim or purpose. Without the clarity and internal drive to that end, goals may not be effectively reached.

May each of you find the clarity to pursue a life goal and may that goal fill your cup enough so that you may pour into others. Thanks for reading.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Goal Achievement Exercises for free.


What our readers think

  1. Christina

    hello, why did you all not mention Brian Tracy Goals?

    • Joe Arguedas

      Exactly. Brian Tracy is a living legend and treasure.

  2. Helit Broza

    The “Little Engine that could” was originally published in the 1920’s and in its most known version in 1954,not the 1980’s.

    • Nicole Celestine, Ph.D.

      Hi Helit,

      Thanks for bringing this to our attention! I’ve corrected this now. 🙂

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  3. Nikkip424

    I’m trying to find a book I listen to on CD many years ago I believe in the late 90’s or early 00’s. It was about setting short, mid and, long term goals and doing 20 things a day to achieve them. What is the name of it?


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