A year after her wildly successful 2018 bestseller, “Girl, Wash Your Face,” popular American blogger and motivational speaker Rachel Hollis released a worthy follow-up book, “Girl, Stop Apologizing.” In it, she challenges women everywhere to stop talking themselves out of their dreams. She also maintains that achieving big goals – both personally and professionally – comes down to three things: letting go of the excuses that keep you stuck, adopting great habits and behaviors that set you up for success, and acquiring the skills necessary to make exponential growth possible.
Divided accordingly in three parts, the book deals with the nine most common excuses, delves into the seven most useful behaviors, and puts forward the six essential skills you should learn and develop to excel in life. Without further ado – let’s jump right in!
Excuses to let go of
Every time you hold on to a false belief, you risk robbing yourself of motivation and setting yourself up for failure. “If you don’t recognize the things that are limiting you right now,” writes Hollis, “you’ll never be able to move past them.” There are various excuses women cling on to for one reason or another, but the following nine are certainly the most common ones:
- That’s not what other women do. A social media star with a million of followers, Hollis used to pretend to be one kind of person when she was actually someone else entirely. But one time, someone asked her on Facebook when she finds the time to do it all. “Oh, I don’t do it all,” Hollis casually typed back. “My husband is really involved, and we have a nanny who helps with the boys while I’m at work.” That’s not the answer the internet wanted to hear. Many fans were disheartened to learn that Hollis lets someone else raise her children. Heartbroken, she apologized to her audience, and started doing some of the things she wanted in secrecy. She doesn’t anymore – at least not after realizing that societal expectations prevent women from chasing their dreams. So, stop conforming to them: if you want to succeed, develop a thick skin. Don’t let the unjust social order clip your wings. Challenge it!
- I’m not a goal-oriented person. Everybody has dreams and goals. If you don’t know what they are, they are things you hope for, “the things that occur to you as you go about your day.” They can be anything, from, “I wish I wasn’t tired all the time,” to, “I could start a side business.” The only reason why these are just sidenotes in your life and not its purpose is your fear of failure. Overcome it. Everybody fails – the experts much more often than the unaccomplished. In fact (and this is not an exaggeration), those who haven’t failed, probably haven’t lived as well.
- I don’t have time. “Well, sister,” quips Hollis right off the bat, “you aren’t going to find the time to pursue your goals; you’re going to make it.” It all boils down to reconfiguring the time you do have in order to achieve the goal you’re after. How? Just follow the next four steps! First, make a timeline of your current week and see if you can find areas to slot in personal plans. All you need is five hours in the 168 available. Sure, you can find that many, can’t you? Hollis calls these hours your “five to strive.” The second step is to treat them as sacred and protect them at all costs. Third, make sure that these hours are your best hours: if you are a morning person, don’t set aside the five hours at night. Finally, make sure to always prepare in advance: don’t forget to plan your schedule weekly.
- I’m not enough to succeed. Hollis is a successful entrepreneur who built a multimillion-dollar company with only a high school diploma under her belt. In other words, people don’t hire you because of your degrees, but because of your skills. And you can always learn new skills – in fact, you must have already developed quite a few that can help you realize your dreams. It’s fear that’s holding you back. Fear and other people’s opinions. Conquer them through confidence and pride.
- I can’t pursue my dream and still be a good mom/daughter/employee. Yes, you can. Just not in the manner society says so. Unfortunately, history is nothing but a fairytale of men succeeding thanks to the sacrifices of the women in their lives. So, start doing what men have been doing for millennia: develop healthy selfishness. Your dreams and your personal growth should come first, and this doesn’t mean that other areas of your life would suffer. “It’s possible to pursue something for yourself while simultaneously showing up well for the people you love,” writes Hollis. “Don’t buy into the hype or the pressure or the guilt that you’ve got to be one or the other.”
- I’m terrified of failure. Hollis dreamed of writing a New York Times bestseller ever since she learned how to read. However, she needed to publish five books before “Girl, Wash Your Face” finally made the magazine’s coveted list. All of her previous books were failures. But, without them, success would have never been possible. Failure is how we learn to get better. So, don’t think of it as the humiliating end of the journey – but as a stepping stone to glory.
- It’s been done before. Well, what hasn’t? However, being successful doesn’t necessarily mean being original – but doing something better than someone. Make that someone yourself. Stop comparing to other people and start comparing to yourself from yesterday. That’s all it takes to improve.
- What will they think? If “they” are someone whose opinion you value, then you can give it some thought, but only if the opinion is offered directly to you and with love. If it is helpful and constructive – great. If not – don’t worry about it! It’s your life and your dreams we’re talking about!
- Good girls don’t hustle. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich once wrote a book titled “Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History.” And, indeed, almost every great woman who’s ever lived – from Cleopatra to Sojourner Truth to Beyoncé – was a hustler. They made history because they didn’t “put up with the expectations placed on them by the society or the time period they were born into.” Follow their example.
Behaviors to adopt
Even though it might not feel like it, all of your behaviors are actually your choices. “You choose to believe what you believe and accept what you accept,” writes Hollis, “and these behaviors can either help you immensely or harm you without you ever really knowing it.” The following seven are of the former kind.
- Stop asking permission. Raised by a domineering father, Hollis spent her life trying to please the men in her life – until her caring husband told her that this shouldn’t be her objective in life. Despite society teaching us the opposite, it’s not your goal to live for others, but for yourself.
- Choose one dream and go all in. You can only focus on one goal at a time – even if you have several dreams. Differentiate between the two and use Hollis’ 10-10-1 strategy to narrow down. It stands for ten years, ten dreams, one goal each year.
- Embrace your ambition. “Ambition is not a dirty word,” unequivocally writes Hollis. Sure, it can be dangerous, but many good things are when in excess. Unfortunately, most women see ambition as a good thing only until it’s their own. Change that: own your ambition and “start living in a way others won’t so you will have a life others can’t.”
- Ask for help! “Self-made” is a great word, but it’s almost never the correct one: “no one is ever truly self-made, because it’s impossible to build big things entirely by yourself.” A whole team of people helped Hollis make her dreams a reality; find the team that will help you build yours.
- Build foundations for success. Set yourself to win by getting healthy first. Wake up earlier, hydrate, eat proper food, move your body daily, and practice gratitude every day. Establish a morning routine. Get your personal space in order and develop good habits. Once you’re done with yourself, don’t forget to build a great community as well: after all, you “are a combination of the five people you hang out with most.”
- Stop allowing them to talk you out of it. Don’t let other people distract you from your goals. But don’t overreact either. When someone tries to talk you out of it, ask yourself first whether you care about them and whether they should be in your life. If the answer is yes, prepare before you see them and plan intentionally to make it easier. If it is no – don’t worry about it!
- Learn to say no. And do it without a second of guilt or shame about it. Be firm, polite, and honest. And say the no straightaway: no “maybes” or “probablys.”
Skills to acquire
Skills are not talents: while you’re born with the latter, you can always learn the former. No matter where you are in life, these six are the ones you should strive to not only acquire but become an expert in.
- Planning. Start at the end: know where you want to go before making your first step. Then think about your starting point – and be really honest about it. Finally, start asking questions and brainstorm guideposts and mile markers. You’re good to go!
- Confidence. Hollis defines confidence as “the belief that you can count on yourself.” To build it up, try enhancing the way you look, changing the way you act and start hanging out with people who exude self-assurance. It’s contagious.
- Persistence. The talented may falter; the skilled may give up; the gritty are the ones who succeed. Life is not a sprint – but a marathon. And you need power and persistence to reach the finish line.
- Effectiveness. Efficiency is not about doing more things in less time – but about doing the right things in the right order. To achieve this, create a productive environment and force yourself to avoid distractions. Try replacing your to-do list with a results list. And don’t forget about that weekly planner!
- Positivity. Life is not a fairytale: sometimes it is definitely going to suck. And there’s nothing you can do to change that. However, as much as you can’t control the circumstances of your life, you can control your reaction to them. Choose to be positive, to see possibility, to see the blessings in your life every day. It’s better that way.
- Lead-Her-Ship. It’s time we stop living in a world where men lead and women follow. Take the reins in your hands. And start inspiring other women to do the same!
Written as “the next step for people who’ve read ‘Girl, Wash Your Face,’” “Girl, Stop Apologizing” doesn’t disappoint. It’s energetic, instructive, and actionable. And it can make you believe in yourself.
Get rid of the limiting excuses, adopt positive behaviors, and acquire skills that make exponential growth possible. There’s no better formula for success than this.