What are the best books on finding your passion in life? Today, that’s the question we’re going to answer.
Finding your passion is a phrase that many people find cliche. There’s some level of truth to that— it’s not like the rest of your life falls into place the same moment that you find something that you love.
But there’s also truth to the fact that life does get easier when you feel like you know why you’re here. We all have a unique contribution to make to the world — and this contribution usually comes from doing work that we feel like we were meant to do.
It’s possible that you’ll just stumble upon what you love to do, but it’s the exception and not the rule. Typically, we’ll all need to do a little-soul searching before we realize what we were meant for.
It doesn’t hurt to have a little guidance in this pursuit. So without further ado, here’s a list of the best books on finding your passion so that you can find more meaning in your life.
Top Books On Finding Your Purpose
The words passion and purpose are inextricably linked — typically when you find your passion you find your purpose too, and vice versa.
When talking about purpose, what we’re really talking about is an overarching mission that guides what you do. Passion is more about finding the work that helps you achieve this overarching mission.
This first batch of books will focus on helping you discover your life’s purpose.
** Top Pick ** #1: Man’s Search For Meaning By Viktor Frankl
In my opinion, this is a book that everyone should read at least once in their lifetime.
In this memior/self-help manual, Frankl details his experience living in a Nazi concentration camp. It’s truly astonishing to read his first-hand account, but what’s even more astonishing is how Frankl was able to turn immense suffering into something positive.
The core of Frankl’s philosophy is that one’s deepest desire is to find meaning —if one can find that meaning, then they can endure anything.
He suggests that there are three ways to find this meaning — through suffering, through love, or through work.
And to survive the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps, he needed all three.
- The thought of seeing his wife again gave him hope.
- The suffering he experienced placed responsibility on his shoulders to end it
- The work he still wanted to do motivated him to survive
It’s a tremendously powerful exploration of the human experience. Frankl’s inspiring story or survival will make you realize that no matter what you’re going through, you have the power to decide your future.
Jordan Peterson is an incredible writer and storyteller, and it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that 12 Rules For Life is going to be an enduring classic for decades to come.
There are very few 400 page books that keep me engaged the entire time, and this happens to be one of those books. What makes this one of the best books on finding your purpose is that it’s one of the few that actually paints a realistic picture of the process.
Oftentimes, we’re told that finding your passion coincides with finding happiness. Peterson challenges this assumption by saying our purpose is often found where we least want to look.
Happiness is a fleeting emotion that comes and goes, but meaning is a more permanent sense of well-being. He argues that we should all be chasing the latter, and explains that the pursuit of our life’s purpose isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
It’s about the aha moment where everything falls into place, it’s a much more dangerous pursuit. Peterson also highlights that life is suffering, and we need meaning to offset the suffering.
We can never live a life that’s devoid of pain and suffering, but we can find a deeper pursuit that makes enduring it worthwhile.
If you want your beliefs about finding purpose to be challenged in ways that they never have been before, this book will do that.
After reading this book during my freshman year in high school, I wasn’t very impressed. It was entertaining, sure, but it wasn’t the life-changing experience work of art that my English teacher hyped it up to be.
However, after re-reading this book a little over a year ago, I realized that my naive 14 year-old just wasn’t ready to interpret the deeper meaning behind Coehlo’s words.
The book follows a young boy named Santiago who sets off on a quest to fulfill his personal legend. What follows is an incredible story about a boy with a dream who faces many challenges as he tries to make it a reality.
Coehlo expertly intertwines deep life lessons within this story about the magical nature of dreams, the extraordinary power of little things, and the importance of following one’s heart.
As Cohelo says, “You’ll never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say.”
The Alchemist is a great story that’s filled with practical insights about self-discovery and listening to your inner guide.
Most of the time, it’s this inner wisdom we all possess that will move us closer to a life filled with purpose.
Do you feel like you have an overarching mission that’s guiding your actions? Or does it feel like you’re aimlessly wandering through life?
If you tend to resonate more with the second statement, then this may just be the one that you need to read right now.
Beck argues that throughout most of our lives, we wrestle with two selves:
- The Social Self – This is the self that has been shaped by external pressure, such as the will of our parents/teachers, and the norms of society. The social self tends to gravitate towards what’s expected of us.
- The Essential Self – This is the most pure expression of who we really are. Following the path means listening to our internal signals and emotions. The Essential Self is what guides us to a life filled with meaning and purpose.
It’s the practical insights about how to listen to our own mind and body that make this one of the best books on finding your passion.
Beck clearly outlines how to stop suppressing the deep urges you feel to align your actions with your Essential Self and create a life that’s uniquely yours.
The next read on this list of the best books on finding your passion comes from Robert Greene.
You might recognize this name because he’s also the author of an outstanding book titled, The 48 Laws Of Power.
The focus of this particular book is finding purpose through mastery. All of the great people that we admire possess one thing in common — they’ve dedicated their life to the pursuit of mastery.
Whether it’s cooking, writing, business, or investing, we all have that one thing that we feel like we’ve been called to do. We all have this inner force that pushes us towards our life mission.
At some point along the way, as the daily anxieties of life take hold, we tend to lose sight of this mission. Greene’s book will help you rediscover it by making the first move towards mastery — learning who you really are and connecting with that inner force.
As you connect with this inner compass, your life will take on new meaning. Greene explains that as you start accruing wisdom and putting knowledge into practice, you’ll start walking the long journey towards mastery and meaning.
Best Books On Finding Your Passion
Now that we’ve covered some really good reads on finding your life purpose, let’s talk about some of the best books on finding your passion — the work that’s going to set you on fire and make the suffering of life bearable.
Here’s the thing about success — it’s going to be a difficult journey no matter which path you take.
Excelling at anything requires hard work and determination. It requires long hours and a dedication to mastery in whatever field you decide to pursue.
So if you’re going to make this journey, your best possible course of action is to choose work that excites you.
If you truly love what you do, you’re going to put in the work even when the motivation isn’t there. You’re going to feel more intrinsically motivated to achieve your goals when the process of achieving them is inherently rewarding.
For example, the reason this blog exists is because I have an intense passion for self-improvement.
Does that mean that every moment of the process is enjoyable? Of course not! Writing and editing long blog posts is boring, tedious work that requires sustained focus.
Even though the passion is there, I don’t just roll out of bed and get to work with no resistance — but the fact that the topic is so intriguing to me is what makes overcoming this resistance easier.
If I was writing about personal finance, or health and fitness, it’s likely that I’d sit at the computer for hours and do everything but write.
So when it comes to work, things are never gonna be on easy street 24/7. You don’t get a say in whether or not you suffer, but choosing work that you’re naturally passionate about lessens the degree to which you suffer.
Here’s a list of the best books on finding your passion so that you give yourself the best possible chance at reaching greatness in your chosen profession.
This is one of my favorites on this list of the best books on finding your passion. Published in 1990, it’s still a wildly relevant work that dives into the concept of effortless work.
According to Csikszentmihayli, “The best moments in our lives occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult or worthwhile.”
Put in fewer words — we do our best work when we feel there’s meaning in it.
Have you ever found yourself so engaged in your work that the hours seem to fly by? Well, that’s not a coincidence, it’s what happens when we achieve something called the flow state.
When we’re in this state, our struggles in life seem to vanish as we become fully immersed in the task at hand.
This book teaches you how to recognize, and more importantly, leverage these moments. Because when you do, you’re sitting on the cusp of finding what you were born to do.
This classic from Jeff Goins is how-to-manual for finding your passion and building a legacy that’s bigger than yourself.
One point that Jeff makes is that the foundational key to finding what you were called to do starts with self-awareness.
If you don’t really understand yourself, you may never find your passion. Even worse, it may pass you by without you ever recognizing it.
Goins ensures that you never make this mistake by advising that you create a major list of the life events that have happened to you. As you go through the list, you’ll notice moments where you felt fulfilled and accomplished — these are the events that require deeper exploration.
He also reminds you to pay careful attention to your gut feelings. Notice where your gut is trying to lead and see if it takes you to a worthwhile place.
If not, you can always re-adjust and re-focus your efforts. Finding your passion is not an expedient pursuit, but often one that takes years of trying and failing.
However, this book may help you reduce that timeframe by outlining a simple process for figuring out the kind of work that will set you on fire.
Just by reading the title, it’s no surprise that this is one of the best books on finding your passion.
This book is simple and to the point — it provides a step by step process that you can follow to uncover your passions and build a career around work that you love.
The premise of the book is pretty straightforward. We’re more alive and energized when we get to wake up every day and engage in meaningful work.
Using the Passion Test framework, you’ll be able to make room for great uses of time by subtracting good/average uses of time. `
If you’re looking for a simple, no-nonsense guide to finding out what puts you on fire, reading this book is a highly productive use of your time.
This book from Gay Hendricks is all about figuring out the work that you have the best chance at becoming great at.
In order to leave an impact, you need to play the game where you have the best chance to win. This means choosing work that lies inside of what Hendricks calls your “Zone of Genius.”
Hendricks outlines that there are four categories that your work falls into:
- Zone Of Incompetence – This is the type of work that you suck at, and that many people do better than you.
- Zone of Competence – You can get by and hold your own at these tasks, but others are more proficient than you.
- Zone of Excellence – You’re highly skilled at these tasks, few can hold a candle to you
- Zone of Genius – You’re literally the best in the world at this type of work
This book is all about helping you find your Zone of Genius. By picking the work that combines what you’re good at with what you’re motivated to do, you’re much more likely to leave a lasting impact on the world.
Hendrick shows you exactly how to pinpoint this type of work and make it the foundation for a successful, fulfilling career.
No matter what you decide to do with your life, you’re going to bump up against resistance.
Pressfield’s book will give you actionable strategies for how to avoid procrastination and laziness, which is the byproduct of resistance.
What I really like about this book is that it doesn’t focus that much on finding your passion, but more about how to consistently produce high-quality work once you find it.
Finding your passion is only the first battle — the next battle starts when you have to show up every day and put in the work.
That’s why it’s a great book to read in conjunction with some of the other books on this list.
To wrap up this list of the best books on finding your passion, we have this awesome read from Ken Robinson.
Much of the book focuses on The Element — the meeting point between natural aptitude and personal passion.
In order to find one’s element, one needs to seek out the right opportunities and approach them with the right attitude.
He also argues that the current system for determining intelligence is flawed. He suggests that in its current form, school teaches us to be obedient and educated.
But what about creativity? What about what makes you happy? What if what you want to do and what’s expected of you don’t line up?
This book will help you break free from the norms of society and live a life that’s unique to you.
Final Thoughts: Books On Finding Your Passion
What work do you feel truly engaged in? What is the unique contribution that you were put here to make?
These are essential questions that you need to answer if you want to squeeze the most joy and meaning from your life.
Take this list of the best books on finding your passion and start your journey of self-discovery.
I’m not an expert on end of life emotions, but I’m pretty of this — getting to the end of life without ever chasing your passions is pretty gut-wrenching.
Don’t chance it. Don’t ever find out what that feels like. Find out what puts you on fire and go all-in.