woman reading outside

For many of us, our 20s are a defining decade of self-discovery. We’re learning how to navigate careers, relationships, and even big decisions like buying a house or starting a family.

In the midst of it all, it’s easy to question our paths and whether we’re making the right decisions. While there are a number of classic self-help books, like 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, to help us find answers to life’s biggest questions, many of today’s self-help books suggest we need to get rid of everything we own to find true happiness or tidy up to find true joy.

If flowery, woo-woo, purge-everything-in-your-life self-help advice isn’t for you, there are a few no-nonsense self-help books to help you find your way. Try reading one of these books to figure out your life and career, get comfortable with taking risks, become a better person, and chart your own path to true happiness:

1. Daring Greatly, Brené Brown

self-help books

Dr. Brené Brown is a researcher who has studied courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy for over 16 years. In her book, Daring Greatly, she teaches us we must dare greatly every day, and the importance of having courage to be our true selves. She acknowledges that daring greatly can be uncomfortable, but it’s one of the only ways we can allow our true, authentic selves to be seen by our colleagues and loved ones. If you are looking for a little courage to make big decisions in a relationship or your career, this book is for you.

2. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson


While many self-help books and happiness experts tell us that positive thinking is the key ingredient to a happy life, Mark Manson argues that we need to “f*ck positivity” in order to figure out what really matters. In The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Manson tells it how it is and doesn’t sugarcoat his life advice. He explains that once we accept our limitations, stop running from reality, and confront painful truths, we can then find the courage, perseverance, and forgiveness we have been searching for.

3. You Are a Badass, Jen Sincero

self help books

You Are a Badass is a how-to guide filled with honest advice and inspiring stories to give you a much-needed kick in the butt to make some serious changes in your life. Jen Sincero helps readers identify and change self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that keep us from getting what we want in life. She also explains how to take big risks, how to love ourselves, and how to set big goals and reach them.

4. Boss Bitch: A Simple 12-Step Plan to Take Charge of Your Career, Nicole Lapin

self-help books

As a financial journalist and the youngest anchor to work for CNN and CNBC, Nicole Lapin knows what it takes to be a “boss bitch” in all aspects of life. In her book, Boss Bitch: A Simple 12-Step Plan to Take Charge of Your Career, she provides honest advice to help women be a boss at work and home. Lapin shares raw and hilarious stories from her own career, and then provides actionable advice on how to kill in your career. If you’re looking to take your career to the next level, this no-nonsense self-help book is for you.

5. Creative Confidence, Tom Kelley and David Kelley

self-help books

Regardless of whether you work in a creative field or not, we all must tap into creativity every day to solve problems. Creative Confidence brings us back to when we were in kindergarten and helps us adopt the confidence we had as young children before we were afraid of having a “bad idea.” Written by leading experts in innovation and design, Creative Confidence outlines principles and strategies that help us access and apply creativity in our careers and personal lives, and teaches readers how to innovate every day.

6. Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

designing your life

Have you ever thought about looking at your life through the eyes of a designer? In this book, authors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans provide insight on how to design a life you truly love. They apply design thinking concepts to everyday life and then walk you through the process of building a career and life that are fulfilling and joyful. The authors also provide exercises at the end of each chapter to challenge you to think about your goals and then develop an action plan. Regardless of where you are at in your life and career, Designing Your Life is an excellent read for learning how to create a life you love.

What are your favorite self-help books? Tell us in the comments section below!