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37 of the Best Books For Increasing Your Willpower

Congratulations. You’ve just found one of the best resources for improving your self-discipline and willpower that you’ll find anywhere online.

This stuff excites me. It’s part of the reason that I read at least a hundred books every single year.

We are NOT destined to live with the amount of willpower that we were born with. There are STRATEGIES, and there are METHODS that can help us get closer to our potential. And in contrast to so much else, this isn’t just empty talk. 

It’s almost stupid how many books are out there competing for our attention, all claiming that they can help us do the things we previously thought were impossible.

Some are garbage. You probably know this already.

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

But there are some phenomenally inspiring books out there, filled with wisdom, and they are out there just waiting for you to open them.

What I’ve done here is go through my list of the first 100 books that I ever read, and picked out the best ones relating to self-discipline and willpower. It turns out that there were 37 on that list.

In a future article, I will go from 101-200 and pick out the best books from there.

You can see my full reading list HERE.

Along with the title and author, I introduce you to the idea or message behind the book, as well as some major lessons that I took away from it.

I take notes on every single book that I read, and I STRONGLY suggest that you do the same.

You can also get all of my book notes here: ON THIS PAGE

The link above is a non-profit fundraising campaign for Doctors Without Borders. That is my main cause, and I’ve given everything to them. My entire website is non-profit and I urge you to give what you can to this worthwhile cause. I am giving away all of my book notes in exchange for donations to support their life-saving work around the world.

And you can download your free copy of my OWN book, The Godlike Discipline Handbook, by following this link HERE.

It features 13 concepts that are absolutely critical to achieving superhuman self-control, and gives you 64 specific, actionable strategies to help you master self-discipline and willpower.

Lastly…remember always, that the person who reads books lives a thousand lives, but alas, the non-reader lives but once.

Hey! Enough preamble…here are the books!

#1) Willpower, by Roy Baumeister

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

This is one of the seminal works on the science of self-control, and Roy is referenced so many times it’s almost impossible to read a self-improvement book without seeing him mentioned. There’s a reason for that: This book is powerful beyond measure.

Major Lessons:

Willpower can be depleted and replenished

You have a finite amount of willpower that is depleted as you use it

Do not attempt any important tasks while running low on glucose

The time it takes to complete a task expands to fill the amount of time allotted to it

Making decisions saps your willpower

Train yourself to face worse conditions than you will ever actually face

Use pre-commitment to conserve willpower

Forge ahead one day at a time

Form a specific willpower implementation plan to be followed when confronted by certain temptations

Monitor yourself every day

Tell yourself you can have some unhealthy food later if you pass up on it now

Giving in does not replenish your willpower

Do one thing or nothing

#2) The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

I am a Steven Pressfield evangelist. The man inspires me daily to do my best work, and he’s written four of my favorites. The War of Art introduces us to the idea of the “Resistance”, or basically anything that stops us from achieving something great. I read this way back in 2014 and I believe it was one of the first times that I ever hugged a book.

Major Lessons:

Resistance can’t be reasoned with

Resistance will say anything and do anything to prevent you from doing your work

Resistance is strongest close to the end

There will never be a moment when we are unable to change our destiny

Resistance can and has been beaten

Respect Resistance because it can beat you on any given day

The artist pursuing his calling has volunteered for hell, whether he knows it or not

Taking a few blows is the price of standing in the arena and not on the sidelines

Resistance is like a telemarketer: Once you so much as say hello, you’re finished

It’s better to be in the arena getting stamped by the bull, than to be up in the stands or in the parking lot

“Whatever you can do, or believe you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.” – Goethe

Dreams and inspiration are as common as dirt. So are sunrises. But that doesn’t make them any less of a miracle.

We most fear that We Will Succeed

If we were born to throw off the order of injustice and ignorance of the world, then it’s our job to realize it, and get down to business

The artist must do his work for its own sake

Ask, “If I were the last person on earth, would I still do what I’m planning to do?”

Contempt for failure is our cardinal virtue

#3) The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

Now here’s a man with a simple and powerful message. All your habits have the same structure: Cue –> Habit –> Reward. This means that when we experience a certain cue, say, driving by a fast-food restaurant, we execute a habit. The reward associated with that habit is grease in this example. But you can change your “habit loop”, as Duhigg calls it, into anything you want. This book explains how. It’s been immeasurably valuable to me personally.

Major Lessons:

Find a simple and obvious cue

Clearly define the rewards

Cultivate a craving to fuel adoption of the habit

The cue must trigger a craving for the reward

Champions do ordinary things but they do them without thinking

Use the same cue and the same reward but a different routine

Go for small wins

Mentally rehearse how to respond and deal with failure and setbacks

Find the absolute root causes of problems

Crises afford the opportunity for changes

Your habits are what you choose them to be

We need to see small victories in order to believe that a long battle can be won

Plan for setbacks and don’t let them get you off track

Once you diagnose the cue, routine, and reward, you gain power over your habits

#4) Inner Excellence, by Jim Murphy

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

Have you heard about this book? I hadn’t. I was traveling to a work conference and read pretty much the entire book on the plane. I wasn’t expecting there to be so much wisdom here, but I guess that’s just another case of me being wrong, now isn’t it?

Major Lessons:

The enemy is our self concept which was based on past performances and our beliefs about what we can and cannot do

A heart built on the love of temporary things will have insecurity as a constant companion

Winning doesn’t necessarily mean that you were great, or even good

Sacrifice pride and status for growth and experience

Keep death in mind at all times

Extraordinary performance often comes as the result of pursuing extraordinary experiences

Tomorrow may never come

It may be only through eyes rinsed with tears that we can see who we really are

When you’re attached to something you can’t control, you live in constant fear of losing hold of it

The more you give in, the easier it is to do

Beauty and presence as well as focus are always there regardless of whether you choose to experience them or not

The more you look for beauty, the more you will find

Try and find beauty everywhere

Everything that is around you was meant to be there

What you don’t have in this moment, you don’t need

Take a break from work every hour and a half to really see and feel and be present

Pressure comes from what we think about the situation and not the situation itself

Living your dreams means loving what you’re doing and not the outcome of what you’re trying to do

Be grateful when your opponents do well or fight hard

Accept every circumstance that comes your way just as if you chose it

Everything happens twice: first in your mind and then in your life

Be comfortable being uncomfortable

Your main pursuit is absolute fullness of life

Consistently challenge what you know

Winning is dangerous because we don’t learn anything, or at least it is easier not to learn anything

Master the in-between moments of life by realizing that nothing is more important than the present moment

Nothing will stop me except my physical body breaking down

#5) Zen Habits, by Leo Babauta

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

Leo runs one of the most popular self-improvement blogs on the internet, called Zen Habits. He’s been around for a while, and has made a name for himself out there in the sea of mediocrity otherwise known as the real world. Zen Habits is all about simplicity, and it’s something I’ve always appreciated in my own life. I make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler. His is a great book with some very practical advice.

Major Lessons:

Always celebrate your successes

Only have commitments in your life that give you joy and value

Do the most important task first and don’t stop

Go slower through life

Evaluate how you spend your time

Leave space between your appointments and tasks

Leave your bedroom immediately after waking up

There is an ebb and flow to motivation and it will come back

A nap is like a restart button on life

Live your life consciously

#6) Awaken the Giant Within, by Tony Robbins

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

You may have been wondering when we were going to get into some Tony Robbins! He’s one guy that has known what he’s been talking about for decades. He’s read even more books than I have (at the time of THIS writing, anyway!), and the scope of his knowledge is simply awe-inspiring. He’s the best in the business, and there’s a legitimate reason for that. Personally, I find his book titles dumb as anything, but you can’t argue with the results that his books have helped me to achieve.

Major Lessons:

Winners have a sense of certainty

Make a decision not to be less than you could be

It is what we do consistently that shapes our lives

Never leave the scene of a decision before taking a concrete action

Achievers rarely see a problem as permanent

You travel in the direction of your focus

You will get a better answer if you ask a better question

Move your body in the direction you want to go

Put yourself in a state of determination instead of trying to push yourself

Cut off any other possibility except success

Giant goals produce giant motivation

Decide whether you are absolutely committed to achieving your goals that you set

Spend 90% of your time on the solution and only 10% on the problem

Act congruently with your values

Spend less than you earn and invest the difference

Scarcity is an illusion

Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others

#7) Unlimited Power, by Tony Robbins

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

You want MORE from Tony Robbins? Well ok, he’s more than able to deliver. Unlimited Power (again, dumb title, in my opinion) has changed more lives than Netflix. If you have time to devote to a larger book like this, then it’s absolutely worth it.

Major Lessons:

Take responsibility for everything

Turn the volume and speed up or down on the voice inside

The biggest leverage we have is physiology

Ask until you get what you want

Communicate clearly and precisely

There is someone who can help you no matter what your aims are

Success is a process and not an end result

Demand more from yourself than anyone could ever expect

#8) The Success Principles, by Jack Canfield

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

Remember the guy who started Chicken Soup for the Soul? Well he’s packed this book with useful advice and game-changing insights. I was actually extremely surprised by how much I took away from this one, and it seemed like I was taking notes on every page. There is some major substance here, and Jack knows how to get an idea off the ground at all costs. Get past the title, and draw strength from this book.

Major Lessons:

“If we did all the things we were capable of, we would literally astound ourselves”

You create everything that happens to you

No matter how small the decision, make one

We often achieve exactly what we anticipate

Vague goals achieve vague results

Pursue a breakthrough goal that would change everything if you reached it

Stop thinking the same thoughts

Ask repeatedly for what you want

Measure what you want more of

It’s always too soon to quit

Provide more service than that for which you are being paid

Use the end of the day to reflect and plan because that is what the unconscious mind focuses on during sleep

As soon as we feel as if we should do something, we create an internal resistance against doing it

You have handled everything that has ever happened to you

A 100% commitment is easier to keep

When you’re happy doing what you love, you’re already successful

Work on your core genius and pay people to do everything else

Everything that you need to solve any problem, or achieve any goal, is already inside of you

Listen 100 times. Ponder 1000 times. Speak once.

#9) Eat That Frog, by Brian Tracy

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

For those of you who haven’t heard that phrase before, it comes from Mark Twain. Basically, the idea is that if you eat a live frog at the beginning of the day, then you can go the rest of the day with the comfort of knowing that the worst is behind you. Do you see how you can relate this to your most dreaded tasks and activities? Brian Tracy is literally one of the superstars of the productivity and discipline space, and I’ve read a large number of his books. They really got me into the idea of taking massive action. It’s still something I’m working on, of course, but that’s what great books do. They light the way.

Major Lessons:

Concentrate single-mindedly on your most important task

The key to success is action

Set deadlines for your goals and tasks

Outline the steps necessary for completion

Find unproductive uses of your time and eliminate them

Have everything you need at hand before you begin

All I can do is all I can do

Talk to yourself each minute and motivate yourself into action

Make every minute count

Move rapidly in every important area in your life

#10) Turning Pro, by Steven Pressfield

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

Pressfield for the win. Again. His books are short (at least his non-fiction ones are), but his ideas cut to the heart of what really holds us back from achievement. I can’t recommend him enough, and I urge you to check out both “Turning Pro“, and “The War of Art“. “The Warrior Ethos” is also incredible.

Major Lessons:

It all starts with a decision

Our lives are entirely up to us

The professional says “One day at a time”

The professional acts in anticipation of inspiration

The real enemies lie inside whereas the physical opponents are just stand-ins

The hero wanders, the hero suffers, and the hero returns to give his gift. You are that hero.

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#11) The Now Habit, by Neil Fiore

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

I listened to this one as an audio-book, which I don’t normally do. But regardless, I stopped the tape numerous times and took notes. Procrastination is a manifestation of the “Resistance” that Steven Pressfield talks about, and Neil Fiore has been working on developing an answer for decades. The Now Habit is his answer.

Major Lessons:

Become your own source of approval

Procrastination has been learned, so it can be unlearned

Use work to give more pleasure than procrastination can provide

Think about worse reasons for not starting

You don’t have to do anything in order to be a worthwhile person

Schedule play time so that it becomes legitimate and guilt free

Feeling overwhelmed is natural and should not lead you to believe that you won’t be able to do the task at all

Persist for a few minutes after experiencing a minor block or setback

#12) Mastery, by Robert Greene

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

I feel as if Robert Greene doesn’t get enough credit for being the brilliant man that he is. Sure, “The 48 Laws of Power” is the #1 most-requested book in prison libraries, but that doesn’t seem like enough recognition to me. Mastery breaks down the exact process everyone goes through when they become really, really good at something. It’s almost poetry, and so it definitely deserves a spot on this list.

Major Lessons:

Mastery is the latent power within us all

You are setting an example for humanity concerning what we can accomplish

Mute your desire to impress and be the focus of attention in favor of learning

Value learning over money

Our minds close to other possibilities if we feel we already know something

Trust in the learning process and move past negative emotions

Resist the temptation to be nice to yourself in your criticisms

You must continually start over and challenge yourself

Masters are those who have struggled in order to get where they are

Adopt the philosophy of complete and radical acceptance of human nature

Speak through the power of your work

It is the choice of where to direct your creative energy that makes the master

Cultivate the ability to entertain two contradictory thoughts at the same time and doubt your previous beliefs

Manufacture deadlines for yourself

Look for that one thing that will yield amazing results when capitalized upon but not at the expense of equal success

Cultivate profound dissatisfaction in your work and the need to constantly improve your ideas

The problem you are working on should always be connected with something larger

The time that leads to mastery is directly dependent upon our level of intensity and focus

Quiet the anxiety you feel when confronted with anything that seems beyond your capabilities

Your experience of something that occurs in the world physically alters your brain

Fall in love with the power of the human brain

#13) No Excuses, by Brian Tracy

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

Another excellent addition to this list from the one and only Brian Tracy. This man is a productivity genius, and he’s going to affect you in positive ways. Give this book a chance and you’ll be rewarded with greater self-discipline and ultimate willpower.

Major Lessons:

Self discipline is the magic quality that makes all other success possible

Everything is hard before it is easy

Be willing to pay the price

Do what needs to be done even when you don’t feel like doing it

To become someone that you’ve never been before means that you have to do something that you’ve never done before

You must do the things that average people don’t like to do

Your mind can only hold one thought at a time, so make it a helpful one

Accept total responsibility for everything in your life

The only direction you can coast is downhill

Invest the first hour of every day in yourself

Assess the true value of what you do

#14) Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life, by Brian Tracy

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

More gold from Brian Tracy. If you haven’t noticed the trend, it’s that this man can do wonders for your self-discipline and your willpower. Get him in your corner, and get his ideas working for you, and you’re going to surprise yourself with your progress.

Major Lessons:

Negative emotions only exist because we give them life

Assert your mental control

Forgive yourself for everything

Take action immediately on new tasks

Be proactive instead of reactive

There are no limits except for the ones that we place on ourselves

Only do those things which bring you closer to your goals

Your highest goals are peace of mind and happiness

#15) The Big Picture, by Tony Horton

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

This book surprised me, and I surprised MYSELF by even buying it in the first place. I always kind of thought of him as this wacky TV-personality that didn’t actually have anything to do with discipline and self-control. Wrong again, Matt Karamazov! The Big Picture comes across as a well thought out meditation on asserting control over your actions, and setting yourself up for continued success. It’s almost intimate, as he’s speaking directly to you about what might work in your life. He definitely gained a new fan, even though I’ll never watch one of his P90X videos.

Major Lessons:

Do your best and forget the rest

Have a plan

Switch things up that no longer work for you

Just doing it will immediately make you feel better afterwards

Every meal should support your goals and lifestyle choices

You can add intensity to everything you do

Gradual progressive overload can be used anywhere and even outside the gym

Whatever you’re doing, do it a little harder, faster, and better

You’re tougher than you think

The harder you work, the luckier you get

#16) The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

Curveball! You will not find this book in the self-improvement or business section of your local bookstore. But as with all great fiction, it contains profound truths about what we are capable of, and what it might look like once we set out on our way. This book is extremely easy to get through, and I finished it at work, all in one sitting. Granted, it was a slow night at the bar and I spent it with my head buried in a book…but it was worth it.

Major Lessons:

Each day, each hour is part of the good fight

Believe yourself worthy of what you fought so hard to get

It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting

Everybody seems to know how other people should lead their lives, but no idea about how to live their own

There is one great truth on this planet: Whoever you are and whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe

When you can’t go back, you can only think about the best way of moving forward

Every day is here to be lived or to mark our departure from the world

The fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself

Dying in the midst of pursuing your personal legend is better than dying like those endless millions who never even discover what their personal  legend is

The world we live in will become better or worse depending on whether we become better or worse. That’s where love comes in. Because when we love, we strive to become better than we are.

#17) Linchpin, by Seth Godin

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

Finally, we get to one of my favorite authors of all. Seth Godin runs one of the most popular business blogs on the planet (and we can only assume, the universe), and is mostly revered by all. I place myself in that group of course. This man’s whole life seems to have been dedicated to getting people to become remarkable. Different. And he uses short sentences. A lot. For impact. He’s better at it than I am. Clearly.

Major Lessons:

Stop obeying what you are told and create art that matters

You get paid a lot when there is no choice but to pay you a lot

Stand out and be seen as indispensable

I’ve never met anyone with no art within them

Doing a job that isn’t getting done is absolutely essential

Leadership is worth far more than compliance

Work is a chance to do art

The only purpose of starting is finishing

Most successful people have no backup plan

It’s not an accident that successful people read more books

#18) An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, by Chris Hadfield

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

I’m sure that he doesn’t know that I’m in love with him…but he will. I’m determined to get him as a guest for Godlike Discipline, but so far that hasn’t happened. I also found out about a speech of his in my city the day after it happened. Not cool. So who is this guy? Chris is a Canadian astronaut who has spent time on the ISS. The man knew he was going to be an astronaut before it was even technically possible for Canadians to BECOME astronauts. Read this treasure of a book to find out how.

Major Lessons:

You have a lot of choices and every decision matters

What you do each day determines the kind of person that you will become

Do the things that move you in the direction of your dreams, but make sure those things interest you so that whatever happens, you’re happy

Be as ready as possible, just in case

All you can control is your attitude

If you have the time, use it to get ready

Picture the most demanding challenge and then visualize what you would need to do to meet it

Fear comes from being unprepared and without control over what will happen

Have a plan for dealing with problems as they arise

Helping someone else look good doesn’t make you look worse

As a leader, set up your team for success, then stand back and let them shine

#19) Extreme Productivity, by Robert C. Pozen

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

This handy book was written by a CEO. Most of those books are worthwhile because not everyone gets to be CEO. You have to bring something special to your organization in order to be trusted with the top spot (the good ones, anyways), and Mr. Pozen has some valuable insights to share. And it’s good to get a little personal with the CEO too. Robert comes across as very likeable and knowledgeable, and his book is definitely worth reading.

Major Lessons:

Focus on the results that you want to achieve, instead of the hours that you work

Plan your work around your strengths and skills

Spend a higher percentage of your time on high priority tasks and objectives

Be aware of spending more time on a project than necessary and of when the project is good enough

Respond immediately when possible instead of wasting time in the future getting reacquainted with the request or task

Take afternoon naps

Underpromise and overdeliver

Become a finisher and push through to the end

#20) The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

A strange choice? Perhaps. But there is wisdom in this book, and centering yourself in the present moment will do wonders for your productivity. I’ll put a disclaimer out there though that this book gets a little New Age-y at times. But that’s ok. If you can tolerate a few chapters of that, there is some major wisdom to be gained. I certainly took a lot from it and it continues to affect me in positive ways. Eckhart Tolle claims to have been homeless and living on a bench in a state of blissful gratitude. Do you believe that? Strangely, I certainly do.

Major Lessons:

Become intensely conscious of the present

The past doesn’t exist anymore and the future will never exist

The present moment is all that you will ever have

Death is a stripping away of all that is not you until you realize that there is no you and there is no death

Withdraw attention from the past and future whenever they are not needed

Learning from a mistake makes it no longer a mistake

Have a stillness inside you that never leaves you

The stillness and vastness that enables the universe to be is also present within you

Do not make living and dying into a problem

Become like a deep lake; still at the bottom, no matter what is going on at the surface

Only those who have transcended the world can bring about a better world

Like What You're Reading?

You’re not going to live long enough to waste any time on the inessentials. Godlike Discipline is all about what constitutes a meaningful life, and if you’d like to explore this subject with me, I’d be honored to have you. Join the mailing list and be sure to keep up with everything that’s going on.

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#21) Maximum Achievement, by Brian Tracy

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

Brian Tracy appears so many times on this list for a reason. I urge you to check out some of his stuff if you are serious about self-improvement and productivity. He’s right up there with Tony Robbins as being one of the best of the best. We can all learn a thing or two from both of them.

Major Lessons:

Do what other successful people are doing

If you want the effects, simply repeat the causes

You can choose what your attitude will be every minute of every day

You perform as well as you believe yourself capable of performing

Carry on with your goals in the same mood as when they were set in the first place

Ask what is holding you back

Do the things you fear

Act as if it were impossible to fail

Ask what there is in your life that you are not facing

Peace of mind should be your highest goal

#22) The Four Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferriss

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

Tim Ferriss broke out of obscurity with this instant classic, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It’s actually one of the very few books that I’ve read twice. It’s that good. He basically coined the term “lifestyle design” and he has set up his entire life to be one great big classroom. Lately, he’s been deconstructing top performers and teaching others how to elevate their game. This man is a hero to many, and to me as well.

Major Lessons:

There is hardly any competition for the top

Success can be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations that you are willing to have

The most important actions are never comfortable

Be productive instead of busy

Ask, “If this is the only thing that I accomplish today, will I be happy?”

There are seldom any real emergencies

Let a few small bad things happen in order to focus on making the important big things happen

#23) The Four Hour Body, by Tim Ferriss

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

These two pretty much go together, so I put them together here as well. Tim basically experimented on himself constantly, and compiled all the results of his experiments into this sensational book. You don’t have to take ice baths and a lot of crazy supplements if you don’t want to, but he’s done it all, and brought us the best of what works. The best way to read this book is like a reference book. I read it all the way through, but by all means, skip to the chapter on weight loss/gain, or running faster etc, if that interests you more. There’s something here for everybody.

Major Lessons:

The decent method you follow is better than the perfect method you don’t

Doing the uncommon requires uncommon behavior

Develop singular focus on the process

Take at least one nap throughout the day

Trust data instead of the masses

There is nothing in biology yet discovered that points to the inevitability of death

Refuse to accept partial completeness

#24) Earn What You’re Really Worth, by Brian Tracy

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

You getting tired of hearing this guy’s name mentioned on this list? Well you can always go to another discipline-related site. Wait…no…don’t do that! This is the last Brian Tracy book on this list. As always, I have notes on every single one of these books, so if you’d like me to send them to you all at once, go HERE.

Major Lessons:

You have chosen your current income

Constantly look for ways to improve

For your life to get better, you must get better

Develop your own competitive advantage

Everyone who succeeds, does so with the help of others

You are constantly selling yourself and your services

Ask for what you want

#25) 10-Minute Toughness, by Jason Selk

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

Jason Selk is another good one. I discovered him back in 2014 and I remember looking at everything differently after reading this one. A number of the books on this list will do that for you. This one is all about the mental game, and properly preparing yourself to compete. It doesn’t matter if you’re competing against your to-do list, or the boxer across the ring from you, Jason Selk will give you an edge. Or rather, he’ll help you give yourself an edge.

Major Lessons:

If you are thinking about what is going wrong in your life, then you won’t be able to think about what you need to do in order to make it better

People end up accomplishing what they believe themselves capable of accomplishing

The self image will eventually regulate behavior and outcomes in accordance with the dominant beliefs of the individual

Continually tell yourself that you have what it takes to be the kind of person you want to be

5 percent of the people do 95% of the winning; most people will not be as prepared as you are

Relentlessly focus on solutions

A solution exists for your problem

You must breathe life into every solution you identify

Make success permanent and failure temporary

Mental toughness can be said to be present when the mind can control the body enough in order to do what needs to be done to be successful

#26) The Way of the Superior Man, by David Deida

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

I dare say this book was a little advanced for me when I first read it. Of course, I didn’t think so at the time, but I’m sure I’ll have to read it again at some point in order to truly get everything out of it. David Deida is a very smart man, he’s done what most people only think about doing, and I highly recommend the book. It definitely explained some things to me that I’m still learning to this day. Solid addition to this list.

Major Lessons:

We eventually outgrow everything

Hold nothing back

Challenge your mediocrity and the mediocrity of your friends

Every moment of your life is either a test or a celebration

The only options are fear or mastery

Life is a process of dying through to that which cannot be lost

Give yourself to others whenever you feel tense

Practice deep breathing throughout the day

#27) Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

Ah, Napoleon Hill. What a guy. Look past the fact that he got rich writing self-help books and was never actually successful until that point. I use the term “successful” very loosely of course, because success comes in many different forms. The back story behind this book is that he was asked by Andrew Carnegie (the steel magnate) to interview all his most powerful friends and find out what they all did and didn’t do when it came to becoming successful. Hill spent 25 years doing this, and the result is this book. A classic.

Major Lessons:

The belief that success for you is inevitable makes you into an effectively new person and the world can’t help but change for you

Cultivate the burning desire to win

The practical dreamers will always be the ones to drive progress

Every failure brings with it the seeds of an equivalent success

No one has ever been defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality

Our only limitations are those that we set up in our own minds

Faith removes limitations

We rise or stay at the bottom due to conditions that we may decide to control

The conversion of desire into its monetary equivalent is no more miraculous than the formation of the universe

Definiteness of purpose must be the starting point

Temporary defeat is not permanent failure

No leader is ever too busy to do what is required of him as a leader

The subconscious mind works day and night and responds to all manner of stimuli

Completely banish fear in all its forms

#28) Rework, by Jason Fried

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

This book may appear like a strange choice for me, and indeed it was. But I regret nothing, as it more than lived up to what I heard about it. 37Signals (now BaseCamp) is the web development company that Jason Fried co-founded. He re-thinks old business knowledge in this book and shares some of his insights about real productivity and progress in the modern world. It’s a short book, and anyone in business (or most other people, for that matter) can find a lot of value in it.

Major Lessons:

That “real world” may be real for some people, but you don’t have to live in it

Evolution has always built upon what has worked and so should you

The real hero is not the workaholic but the person who got home early because they found a solution to the problem

Ask what you really need to get started

See how far you can get with what you have

Cut out the good stuff and leave only the great

When you’re stuck on something, that means you’re not doing other things

Don’t throw good time over bad work

You build momentum by finishing one thing and then moving on to the next thing

Imperfections are real and people respond to real

Most of the things you worry about never end up happening anyways

#29) You’ll See It When You Believe It, by Wayne W. Dyer

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

Wayne Dyer is a personal role model of mine, and don’t let his place on this list mislead you. He was one of the most brilliant men on the planet and one of the greatest influences on my entire life. I cannot overstate that fact. Wayne taught me so much about the world and how it’s possible to be happy in it, and a lot of his stuff can be translated into self-discipline and self-control as well. The man did whatever it took to get his message to the people, and this message has literally transformed millions of lives. My own included. Read the damn book already!

Major Lessons:

Be willing to do what it takes to make your visualization into reality

Work each day on your thoughts instead of your behavior

We can only give away what we have inside

Love your work, no matter what your current task

Focus on what you have, instead of what you don’t have

Flow instead of fighting

Self discipline is easier when we have love for ourselves

#30) The Law of Success, by Napoleon Hill

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

Any Napoleon Hill fans here? You may or may not know that he also wrote this one, called “The Law of Success”. Now, it’s a long one (actually 16 booklets), but I definitely got some value out of it. The writing style is, well…old. But it doesn’t feel like strenuous reading. I’d read “Think and Grow Rich” first if you’re just getting into Napoleon Hill, but this one is also out there should you choose to pick it up. I for one certainly don’t regret it.

Major Lessons:

Power is applied knowledge

Acting with initiative constantly will make it more likely in the future

Teaching others will develop the same skills within you as well

Only excellence inspires jealousy; mediocrity is ignored

Thought is the only thing over which you have total control

Nothing great is achieved without temporary defeat

Refrain from labeling anything a failure until you have had enough time with which to reflect

There can be success without happiness, but it’s never worth it

Guard your thoughts because of how easily they can be influenced

Any kind act or thought, regardless of whether it is reciprocated, has a positive effect on your own character

Your reputation is made by others, but your character is made by you

The most successful people reach decisions quickly and stand by them firmly until they are carried out

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#31) Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

Do you remember the last time you hugged a book? I’ve hugged many books since this one, but Man’s Search for Meaning is REQUIRED READING. I cannot overstate the importance of this book, and it’s not just an account of one psychiatrist’s imprisonment in several concentration camps during world war two; there are valuable discipline lessons to be learned from it as well. I urge you to pick this one up at some point in the next 3 months.

Major Lessons:

Happiness and success must be reached indirectly

The last of human freedoms: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way

Without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete

Ask what life expects from you

The hopelessness of our struggle does not detract from its dignity or meaning

A meaningful life can and should include all of your sufferings

Man does not simply exist, but also decides what he will become in the next moment

#32) The Art of Non-Conformity, by Chris Guillebeau

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

Chris is one of those guys who is just doing it right. When you read any of his stuff, you see that he’s not an internet marketer, and he doesn’t want your money unless you feel as though he’s helped you. Well, he’s helped me and he’s gotten some of my money! As the title might suggest, the reader is made to realize that he or she doesn’t have to live their lives according to anyone else’s rules. That takes discipline, and there is a large helping of it here. Another solid addition to the list.

Major Lessons:

You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to

The key to a better lifestyle is not less work, but better work

The most memorable times of our lives are often the most challenging

Work on the meaningful stuff that is meaningful both now and in the future

Start taking your dreams very, very seriously

In the end you probably won’t be satisfied with a life that revolved solely around you

Momentum drives progress and growth

The person who says something is impossible should not interrupt the person who is doing it

No one will ever be as invested in your development as you are

Don’t just escape from something; escape to something

Failure is a real possibility, but regrets are optional

#33) The Happiness of Pursuit, by Chris Guillebeau

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

We just saw this guy! Again, don’t let his placement in the list take anything away from him. Chris is world-class when it comes to making everyone around him better, as well as himself. He doggedly pursued the goal of traveling to every single country on earth, and he did it. That alone would be impressive, but he runs a very successful blog (The Art of Non-Conformity), and a yearly summit. He’s one of the most accessible guys that do this kind of thing for a living, and his competitive advantage is that he actually cares.

Major Lessons:

Whatever we want to learn, the possibility is readily available for each of us

The journey produces its own rewards

Don’t save anything for later

Cultivate an emotional awareness of death instead of just an intellectual one

You have to be deliberate about doing what matters to you

Any real trial will challenge you to your core

Value the overall experience enough to persevere

We tend to overestimate what we can do in a day, but underestimate what we can do in a year

If your family and friends don’t support you, then you need to find people who do

Know when to quit or change tactics

If anything is going to keep you up at night, let it be the fear of not following your dream

Regret is what you should fear the most

Be afraid of settling

As you gain confidence, “I can do this!” becomes “What else can I do?”

Entrepreneurs are willing to work 24 hours a day for themselves, but not a single hour doing something they hate

#34) The Tools, by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

I don’t recall how this book came into my life, but I still think about it after all this time has elapsed since I finished it. I took about 4 pages of notes in all, and I give this book my heartfelt recommendation here. They go all out with the exercises in this book, and each one is worth trying out. I often wonder, how many people actually do the exercises in books like these? Well I went ahead and placed my faith in these two authors, and I was not disappointed. They will help you cultivate courage, creativity, and willpower in abundance.

Major Lessons:

If you want different results, you’ll have to do things differently

Adversity is the “weight” with which you build up your inner strength

The moments when you want to quit are the moments when it’s most important not to quit

Asking pain to stop is like asking for your education to stop

Commitment requires an endless series of small painful actions

Anger puts your life on hold while the world moves forward without you

If unchallenged, negative thoughts will just grow stronger

A human being can never be more than a work in progress

The future is yours to lose or gain

Your future is in jeopardy every moment, and that develops incredible urgency

The future may bring you darkness, but it can’t take away your ability to create light

The only real mistake you can make it to do nothing

The future is your responsibility

#35) Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, by Wayne W. Dyer

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

In case you’re joining this list late, Wayne Dyer is one of my major role models. I even try to speak like this guy sometimes. Seriously, listen to him talk. He’s the calmest, wisest, most caring person I know. And I know a lot of calm, wise, caring people. In Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, Wayne breaks down the 81 verses of the Tao Te Ching, and distills Lao Tzu’s ideas into 81 essays. I listened to this as an audio-book, and I was untouchable for the rest of the month and beyond.

Major Lessons:

Nature doesn’t create storms that never end

In every moment, you have a choice

The cure to a life of unrest is to choose stillness

If you realize that you have enough, then you are truly rich

For you to know weakness, you must have once felt strength

Challenges confronted do not arise

Simplify and take on difficulties while they are still small

Every individual action is simple

Take one single simple step

Take preventative control over your health and affairs

One action or non-action, one day at a time

When people know that they don’t know, they can find their own way

Be like the water in the ocean and never put yourself above anyone

Never assume that you know what’s best for anyone and not even yourself

Without the graciousness of your competitor, there could be no winning or losing

Live by cooperating

Anyone who improves the lives of others is on your team

#36) Talent is Overrated, by Geoff Colvin

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

This next work of art is one of those books that gets referenced so often that it’s difficult to ignore. I tend to gravitate towards books like that because I know they are probably popular for a reason. If you’re just becoming a student of discipline and achievement, you’re going to hear the term “deliberate practice” over and over again. This describes the process of systematically becoming better during each and every practice session, or assigned task. Deliberate practice will separate you from the “also-rans” and Geoff Colvin digs deep in this one.

Major Lessons:

There are so few people today who are truly excellent at what they do

Focus on the skills that will create dominance

An observer can point to our mistakes much better than we can

Deliberate practice is difficult and you can take solace in the fact that most people won’t do it

The small things that elite performers do take lots of practice to implement successfully

Look further ahead

Best performers set precise roadmaps to get to where they want to go

You learn more during a crisis situation than during any other time

Creativity is rarely a burst of inspiration and more often the result of deliberate practice

Choose something that you are willing to suffer a lifetime for

#37) 168 Hours, by Laura Vanderkam

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

You’ve made it through 37 books! I wonder how long it will take you to finish them all. It would probably take me 45-50 days, but everyone is different! Laura’s thesis is that we all have more time than we think we do. In this, I think she is absolutely correct. She even stopped by Godlike Discipline to answer some of my questions on the subject in an interview, located HERE. Being intentional about how we spend our time, and tracking it to keep ourselves accountable can really be life-changing if we commit to it. She gives us the ins and outs in this very accessible and enlightening book.

Major Lessons:

Slow down and actually live

There is enough time to do everything

Plan your week instead of your day

You can choose how you spend your 168 hours

You have more time than you think

When estimating how long we work, we tend to unconsciously shift to cultural pressures or norms

Create a blank spreadsheet with 168 hours on it

Complete a time log for one week

Any “work” that is not moving you towards your professional and personal goals should not be labeled as work

Follow through on anything you tell yourself you’ll do, as a matter of personal integrity

The world is not going to make it easy for you to stick to your priorities

Change your meeting mindset: You were invited because you don’t have anything better to do

You get 30-60 hours per week, or 1500-3000 hours per year at work

Time spent doing one thing is time not spent doing another

There is time for anything you really want to do


That’s it! 37 of the best books for increasing your self-discipline and willpower. I hope the journey has been enlightening for you. I loved each of these books, and especially for what they taught me.Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement

If you know of anyone else who could benefit from reading one of these, please share this article with them. Godlike Discipline is completely non-profit (and always will be!), mostly in support of Doctors Without Borders.  Your help would mean the world to us, and all the people whose lives you will be helping to save with us.

The major lessons above were taken from my personal notes that I keep for each book. If you’d like a personal copy of those notes, along with every note for every book that I’ve ever read (FULL LIST HERE), then simply contribute to our non-profit campaign HERE.

And you can download your free copy of my OWN book, The Godlike Discipline Handbook, by following this link HERE.

It features 13 concepts that are absolutely critical to achieving superhuman self-control, and gives you 64 specific, actionable strategies to help you master self-discipline and willpower.

I wish you all the best, and may your discipline become Godlike!

Matt Karamazov


Matt Karamazov is a human rights activist, nightclub bouncer, and hardcore reader. He writes about books, self-discipline, and human rights at Godlike Discipline, and you can get his free ebook on how to radically improve your own levels of self-discipline. Between workouts, Matt is trying to read 1,000 books before he turns 30, and start a non-profit that allows volunteers to earn money just by tracking the hours they already spend volunteering. He would be straight-up honored if you would support the life-saving work of Doctors Without Borders, and Human Rights Watch. Here he is on a horse.

Willpower Best Books Self Improvement Success Self-Discipline Achievement


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