21 Best Motivational Podcasts to Inspire You Right Now
These podcasts can help you light the spark that you need to achieve your biggest (and smallest!) goals and find your happiness.
Getting motivated is one of those things that’s way easier to talk about than it is to do. After all, reading motivational quotes on Instagram is easy, but finding the motivation to actually change jobs, leave a bad relationship, learn a new skill, write a book, go on a big trip, save money, or any other major goal is much, much harder. Before you can start, you have to want to start (that’s the motivation piece), and fortunately, there are some things you can do to kindle that spark, says A.J. Marsden, PhD, an assistant professor of human services and psychology at Beacon College. She suggests remembering previous successes, making a list of your goals, coming up with a step-by-step plan, and keeping a progress journal. Still having trouble? Motivational podcasts can help bridge that gap.
These types of podcasts often show up on lists of the best podcasts, and for good reason. And there are thousands to choose from, depending on what you want—and what you need to get going. We scoured the charts to find the most popular (more than 20,000 subscribers), the highest rated (4 stars or higher), and the top trending. You can’t go wrong…and, in fact, listening to them can help make things go very right. Also, in case you’re a podcast newbie, here’s how to listen to podcasts.
Unlocking Us with Brené Brown
Brown is known for her decades of research into motivation, personality, and resilience, but she’s beloved for her compassionate-yet-tough view on what it takes to overcome adversity. Her motivational podcast is a deep dive into understanding how we hold ourselves back and how we can learn to conquer our fears and be courageous moving into the unknown.
Ever wanted a life coach but couldn’t afford one? With this podcast, host Scott Smith gives you daily tips and motivation to keep you on track with your goals. His advice is clear, concise, and, best of all, funny. The episodes are generally short, around 10 minutes, so they are a great way to start your day—and he promises to help you stay motivated 24/7. While you’re at it, check out these morning inspirational quotes to get your day started right.
Get ready for some fascinating true stories about epic mistakes from history and the recent past, and find out what we can learn about them so we don’t repeat them in the present. Host Tim Harford points out the innate human tendencies that lead all so many people to repeat the same mistakes and shares how to spot them in yourself so you don’t fall victim to them. For more of a straight-up exploration of the past, put these history podcasts on your must-listen list.
Actor Dax Shepard—you may know him from the TV series Parenthood—takes on a new role in his interview-style podcast. In each episode, he questions a different celebrity, journalist, or academic about their lives, their work, and what advice they have for the rest of us. It’s not just two famous people chatting; Shepherd has a unique way of drawing out interesting and useful details from his guests that apply to all of us and help us move forward in our own lives.
Good Life Project
Motivational speakers are often the ones doing the interviewing, asking others for their stories and advice, but on this podcast, host Jonathan Fields interviews the interviewers. It’s meta motivation! Each episode features someone, famous or not, who is great at motivating others—think Gretchen Rubin, Brené Brown, and Sir Ken Robinson. All of this is designed to help you find your own “good life” and live it.
The Art of Charm
Successful people often possess a certain type of relatable yet powerful charm. On this podcast, hosts and etiquette coaches Johnny and AJ take you through a charm “boot camp.” They teach you the social skills you need to become a higher performer, better partner or spouse, and develop meaningful connections in all aspects of your life. And they don’t just motivate you—they teach you how to be self-motivated.
The One You Feed
The Native American parable of two wolves ends with a memorable lesson: The wolf you feed is the one that lives. In non-canine terms: What you give the most time, attention, and resources to—good or bad—is what will grow. This podcast, hosted by Eric Zimmer, builds off of that premise. In it, he interviews experts such as scientists, authors, researchers, psychologists, thought leaders, spiritual teachers, and public figures about concrete things you can do to “feed” the good wolves (desires) in you to create a better, more fulfilling life.
You probably spend more hours at work than you do at any other place other than your home. (Unless you work from home.) That’s why it’s important to find a way to make those hours fulfilling. In the WorkLife TED Talks podcast, organizational psychologist Adam Grant goes deep with some of the world’s most interesting and successful professionals to “explore the science of making work not suck.” He offers tips for skills like learning how to love criticism, harnessing the power of frustration, and dealing with difficult people.
Ten Percent Happier
Achieving big goals always requires change, but big changes can feel too hard and overwhelming, causing you to give up before you start. In this motivational podcast, host and NBC news anchor Dan Harris shows how making little changes will add up to big results. He interviews top experts in a wide variety of fields and shares what helps them the most. Hearing how others found success and happiness with small changes will motivate you to start making positive moves in your own life.
Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown
Depending on your age, you probably remember actress Mayim Bialik as either the quirky preteen Blossom or scientist Amy Fowler on The Big Bang Theory. It turns out she’s lived a lot of life outside of acting, including getting a PhD in neuroscience. In this podcast, she uses her life experience and her scientific knowledge to share tips for improving your mental health and emotional well-being.
Against the Odds
Human beings can be incredibly resilient, and each week, co-hosts Mike Corey and Cassie De Pecol share a recent story of someone overcoming an enormous challenge against all odds. Covering everything from underwater cave rescues to a kidnapping by Somali pirates to surviving a plane crash, they find the best in the worst situations. While these examples may seem extreme, they show what people are capable of and will inspire you to be resilient in your own struggles. If you love this genre, you might also want to check out our list of the best memoirs.
From the same people who brought you TED Talks, TED Health culls the best advice from the best experts in the field. Who better to learn about COVID-19 from than the virologist who first sequenced its genome? Or how about finding out the secrets of the pharmaceutical industry from a CEO who worked in it for decades? Discover cutting-edge research, listen to top experts, catch up on medical breakthroughs, and figure out how to incorporate all of these healthy new habits into your own life.
Entrepreneurs take big risks with the hope of big rewards, often putting everything on the line to make their business successful. Each week, this podcast features a different business—some successful, some not—and shares all the details about what their founders did. If you’ve started your own business or are just thinking about it, you’ll find lots of motivation, inspiration, and tips.
Gretchen Rubin shot to fame with her book The Happiness Project, and now she’s taking everything she learned about how to find happiness in everyday life to her podcast. Forcing happiness can make you feel anything but happy, so she focuses on breaking down this topic into manageable chunks of advice, tricks, research, and stories—all to help you create new habits that will make you feel happier every day.
Do you just keep accumulating stuff but you’re not sure how? Do you want to ditch all the clutter (metaphorical and physical) and pare down your home, office, yard, mind, or life so you just have what you need? Ironically, the process of simplifying can feel so complicated! Minimalists themselves, hosts Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus walk you through the mental, physical, and practical steps to getting rid of the things weighing you down to live a lighter, less stressful life.
Biohacking—the idea of using scientific biological principles to “hack” or upgrade your mind and body—has been around for a while, and Dave Asprey is one of its most successful and prominent proponents. On this podcast, he explores how the human body works, studies research, and interviews experts to teach and motivate you to improve your health. For some extra motivation, check out these 100 easy habits to help you live past 100.
How to Be a Better Human
From relationships to career to health, this motivational podcast tackles every aspect of self-improvement in surprising ways. Host and comedian Chris Duffy skips over the obvious ideas you’ve likely heard a million times and digs deep through interviews and research to find strategies that may feel counterintuitive but are highly effective. One example? What you can learn about yourself from your poop and what you can do with this crappy information to be a better person.
School of Greatness
Finding a good work-life balance can feel like an impossible struggle, especially in a culture that rewards achievement, money, and productivity over things like relationships and joy. Entrepreneur, author, and self-help guru Lewis Howes shares his secrets for success in all areas of life, including fitness, finance, nutrition, spirituality, entrepreneurship, mental health, and social issues. It’s not just about being the best (whatever that means)—it’s about finding your best life.
This podcast about why people do what they do is a joint venture between the BBC World Service and American Public Media, so you know the information is well researched and the production is high quality. In each episode, an expert discusses the motivations behind a certain type of human behavior and how to change or adapt to those deeply ingrained beliefs and habits. It’s relatively new to the podcast scene, but it’s already getting rave reviews.
Inside the Breakthrough
Success is built on a mountain of failures, yet we hardly talk about those failures when we speak about people who’ve accomplished great things. But failure is an essential component, as these ironic “failures” of wildly successful people will show you. In this new motivational podcast, biologist and TV producer Dan Riskin examines the scientific miracle stories you thought you knew everything about and uncovers all of the work behind the big “breakthrough” moments. It’s informative, funny, and will inspire you to keep trying.
The Jordan Harbinger Show
This podcast won Apple’s Best Award in 2018 and has continued to provide top-tier motivation through interviews with an incredibly wide variety of successful people. Host Jordan Harbinger decodes and demystifies what they do and how they do it, so you can do it too. Each episode aims to give you a new tactic for success. Need to get out of your own head for a little bit after all of this self-reflection? Lose yourself in the best new fiction podcasts you’ll obsess over.
- A.J. Marsden, PhD, assistant professor of human services and psychology at Beacon College