This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may receive a commission is you make purchases using these links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

The hardest thing about changing your path in life is working out what it is that you want to do. What I’ve learned over the last couple of years is you won’t know what you want to do until you know WHO YOU ARE and how you work. Using self-help books can be really useful but what are the 3 best self-help books you should look at in 2024?

There are so many self-help books on the market, it can be difficult to work out which is the right one for you. If, like me, you have a tendency to want a direct and honest approach, then my Top 3 Best Self Help books are for you. They are:

12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson,

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon.

Understanding myself, finding my passion and focusing on how to manifest my dreams – these have all been made easier by the 3 self-help books I have listed below. Whatever your goals, there will be something in them to help you on your journey. Let me give you a taste of what each one is about.


The front cover of '12 Rules for Life' book by Jordan Peterson

What Is It About?

The tagline is the Antidote to Chaos. The chaos he talks about is the human condition and the antidote is to apply the 12 rules to bring order to the madness. Each chapter has intriguing titles such as “Do Not Bother Children When They are Skateboarding“, and other more obvious ones like “Stand Up Straight With Your Shoulders Back”. Each talks about some aspect of how we behave and how applying certain mindsets can make or break you.

Why I Like It

This book has made the top of my list of Self-Help books even though I am only on Chapter 5. That’s right, it changed my life without me even finishing it. In fact, I’ll go further. Chapter 1 changed my life and the other chapters are just reaffirming those changes!

Chapter 1 made me realise that I have a tendency to act like a low-status lobster.

The end.

No, not really. That wouldn’t be very helpful would it?

In the first chapter entitled “Stand Up Straight With Your Shoulders Back”, Jordan talks extensively about lobsters and their hierarchical structures. Hierarchies exist in all species and in all societies – sorry, Millenials but they do. And lobsters, who fight mainly over food, partners and the best shelters, have a system in which repeated losses ACTUALLY MAKE THEIR BRAINS DISSOLVE!

Don’t worry animal lovers – they then grow new brains. Loser brains! These new brains give off chemicals that signal to the other lobsters that the loser lobster is a loser. You can imagine all the winner lobsters laughing at the loser lobster as he walks by emitting his inferior neurochemicals. Tragic!

Lobsters? What do lobsters have to do with Self-Help?

The point of this is to demonstrate that humans can also suffer from this. The chemicals in the brain can determine where you are in life. So, knowing this means you can work to change those chemicals to improve things and turn yourself into a high status lobster – a winner!

Like a lot of people, I have constantly bemoaned my ‘bad luck’. There’s a song by Marva Wright – “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all”. My parents have always talked about the family luck – how nothing ever goes right for us.

What Jordan taught me is that luck, bad or otherwise, has nothing to do with it. You choose to become a low status lobster. As I had always considered myself a reasonably successful and ambitious person, this came as a bit of a shock, I can tell you.

And I was successful. To a point. But I wasn’t as successful as I could have been, especially in my interactions with other people. I had never really got what I wanted and I’d always had to do everything the hard way. I had always blamed these things on circumstances beyond my control, on the universe – or, on occasion, on the people around me. But it wasn’t luck. It was me.

What Difference Has It Made to my Life?

Learning that these things had happened because I had chosen to be a low status individual was a BIG shock to the system and, once I really absorbed it as a true fact, sent me into a bit of a downward spiral. I could pretty much feel my brain dissolving.

But once you accept it, you can fix it.

So, I set about changing the chemicals. And it is all to do with chemicals. The pliability of the human brain is a wonderful thing, allowing us to change pretty much every aspect of our life.

Researching the differences between high and low status individuals showed me how to change things just though adjustments in body language and communication. High status lobsters don’t make snap decisions, they don’t say yes to everything, they sit and walk and stand in an expansive way. The book explains it much better than I can and also drives home why its so important to believe in yourself. If you don’t, no-one else will.

Why am I recommending this self-help book to you?

Did you ever see that episode of Friends where Joey told Rachel he kept his copy of The Shining in the freezer because the book scared him? Well, 12 Rules for Life is a book I wanted to put in the freezer. It has made me face some pretty harsh truths about how I operate in the world.

The main gift it gave me is to help me see that I am a person who sabotages themselves. I actively and deliberately prevents myself from achieving. I’m still not fully understanding WHY I do that but being aware of it keeps me in check and I can, at any given situation, make a different choice now. The benefits of that are already huge and apparent and who knows where I will be when I finish the last chapter. I have no doubt that this book can do the same for you if you are ready to really examine yourself, your beliefs and the way you interact with others.

Get that serotonin working for you and start climbing that hierarchical ladder. Bad luck doesn’t determine who you are and how far you get. You do.

Be a winning lobster. Change your life.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s the man himself describing his 12 Rules for Life.

If you like the sound of this book, use this link to get your own copy from Amazon.


The front cover of 'The Bullet Journal Method' book by Ryder Carroll

What It Is In a Nutshell?

Journalling has had a real growth spurt over the last decade. It is now a multi-billion dollar industry and is seen as a pre-requisite for anyone looking to improve their mental health or wellbeing. Bullet Journalling has been around for a while. The tagline for the book is Track Your Past, Order Your Present, Plan Your Future and that describes it pretty well – where have I been, where am I, where am I going.

Your Bullet Journal becomes a one stop shop for every aspect of your life. It provides an overview of how you are moving forward towards your goals – be that a holiday, starting your own business, refurbishing your house, losing weight. It really does allow you to focus on what’s important and what isn’t and whether your time is being spent doing the things you really want to do or are going to bring you what you want. We all have so much time and yet so little time

Why I like it

I am a procrastinator. A huge big one. If there was a World Procrastinator Championships, I wouldn’t win because I would be too busy procrastinating to turn up.

Changing your life does require action eventually and for some that’s a very easy thing to forget. Its easy to sit around making plans and then adjusting those plans, tweaking this and refining that. There can be so many things and ideas flying around that it becomes difficult to focus.

That’s where Bullet Journalling comes in. Something about this process, as described in that book, turns lists into actions. It makes you focus on what you’re doing and to actually ‘do’ the important staff, get rid of what doesn’t matter and focus on what you are trying to achieve.

If I migrate a task from one day to the next 3 times and don’t complete that task,  the method makes me ask myself why I haven’t completed it. Is it procrastination, is there something about the task that seems too overwhelming or is it just not very important?

So, I either just do it so I don’t have to write it down again, or I break it down into smaller parts or ‘Sprints’ to make it less daunting or less time consuming or I rule a line through it and forget about it. This way, you are forced to only spend time doing things that are getting you to where you need to go.

What difference it has made to my life?

For me, it highlighted that I was spending a lot of time doing things that weren’t important. This freed up time to then think about what would be a better use of my time and also allowed me to make more progress in the year I have been doing this that if I had never started.

I’ve lost count of how many of these “habit-forming” methods I have tried over the years but this one has really stuck.

Everything is in the same place – tasks, thoughts, goals, holiday plans, budget trackers, all in one place, easy to find – and my house is no longer covered with scraps of paper. Having this one book means I am constantly being reminded of my goals or my weekly tasks or the things I am working towards. It helps me to keep my eye on the prize and remember where I am heading and why. No more scattered ideas or plans – just focused consistent movement forward.

Think this book could help you? Get your own copy HERE!

Why am I recommending this self-help book to you?

If you are struggling to find your purpose or your passion, writing everything down this way, reflecting every day, can really help you to identify what you are spending your time on, what you find easy to do, what you enjoy and what you put off. As a natural extension, you then think about why. Once you understand this about yourself, much of the mess and the tedium can fall away and you can live with much more purpose. And that is what self-help is all about.

Try this video if you want to know more about how Bullet Journalling works.


The front cover of 'Show Your Work' book by Austin Kleon

What it is in a nutshell?

The tagline for this book is 10 Ways to Show Your Creativity and Get Discovered. It is ostensibly a book for artist and creative types, with an emphasis on getting your creative work out into the world. However, there are also lots of lessons and ideas no matter what you’re working on.

The book is chock-full of little soundbites for anyone who needs to promote themselves or their work. Its as applicable for a builder as it is for a sculptor. The book talks about believing in yourself and what you are creating.

The most powerful message is that it doesn’t matter what other people think, you and your creations have a right to be seen, a right to be out in the world and you should never let self-doubt get in the way of that. This book helps you enjoy the process and understand that the process – the act of creation – is enough.

Why I like it

The book is small – only 212 pages in an 15cm x 15cm package but it delivers a lot. Its one of those self-help books you can dive into again and again every time you are doubting yourself or need a bit of inspiration. The language is easily digestible and it has some striking graphics.

For a self-help book, this offers something unique. You see, it is the feel of the book – the vibe, if you will – that I love. It is warm and positive and uplifting. It also gives guidance and advice for finding and understanding your passions and skills and how to translate them into something that other people can use and enjoy. Isn’t that the key to finding your dream job? Getting paid for doing what you love?

So many of us are hamstrung by other people’s expectations, by our own insecurities and self-doubt. This punchy little book is the equivalent of your best friend giving you a pat on the back and saying, “come on, you can do it!”.

What difference has it made to my life?

It has done exactly what I’ve described above. When I am sitting down to produce a bit of creative work, I am so often paralysed by that little voice in my head saying, “Why are you wasting your time? Nobody wants to see that / read that / listen to that (delete as appropriate)”. Or even worse “You have no talent”.

Listening or not to these self-doubts can be the difference between spending the day achieving or giving up and just doing the ironing.

So, if ever those doubts are too loud or too insistent, I make myself a cup of coffee and dip into this book. It reminds me that it is not the reception to my work that matters. What matters is that I am doing something I love. I am creating, producing, achieving. I am giving. It just gives that little mindset change to get you back on the road.

Why am I recommending this self-help book to you? 

If you are starting out in a new career or starting your own business, the only person that will get in the way of success is you. No grumpy boss, or envious colleague, or bureaucratic obstacle can bother you if you believe in yourself, believe in what you are doing and where you are going.

You have as much right to be in the world as anyone else, your work or creative endeavour is as perfect as anyone’s else’s and the world needs to see it…and you! If self-doubt is stopping you from doing what you love, then 5 minutes with this book will remind you that you are wonderful.

Show Your Work and be proud.

Want your own copy? Get it here!

And to prove its not just me that loves this book, try this review by YouTuber Mike Nardi.

These 3 self-help books have genuinely changed my life. One made me think about how I saw myself, the second helped me to understand what I wanted to spend my time doing and the third gave me the confidence to do it. Try them for yourself.

If you already know these books, let me know in the comments how they have helped you.

If you enjoyed this post and are ready for the next step in changing your career, try this post on Showcasing Your Transferable Skills.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *