Get Out of Your Own Way: How to Find Motivation to Reach for Your Best Life

Review: Get Out of Your Own Way: A Skeptic’s Guide to Growth & Fulfillment by Dave Hollis

When you’re stuck in a rut in your life, how do you find your way out? In my life, I’ve been battling the hardest things that I’ve ever had to face over the last two years. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I lost my mom very suddenly and traumatically over Thanksgiving weekend in 2017. The initial loss was unbearable and the aftermath of it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to navigate and grapple with. I was only 25 years old when my mom died (at age 52). She was perfectly healthy as far as we knew so getting a phone call at 1:48AM that paramedics were at my parents’ house trying to revive her was the most shocking and traumatizing experience I have ever been through. At 25, I was working at a great job, had graduated from my dream school with a BA, and had moved out on my own already. But there is so much ahead that I still need my mom around for. The thought of continuing life without her seemed too much to bear. Pairing that along with already existing anxiety and some PTSD (though I didn’t know it at the time) from childhood, I was overwhelmed to say the least. But I pushed through, I worked, I finished a certificate program going back to school part time, I served as an advisor for my sorority, I earned the promotion I had been hoping for at work, and began dating the man I have been in love with for years. But as amazing as all of this is, grief felt paralyzing, so I wasn’t dealing with it. One day, I decided that it was time to look for a therapist, and I’m so proud of myself for taking that big step. I learned to get to the root of my issues. It helped me to realize that I was not grieving or healing, I was just coping, soothing, and getting by the best that I could. But I started thinking, is this what my life will be like from now? In a perpetual state of crippling grief? Now that mom is gone, will I ever feel like I’m able to try to live a full life?

Around the same time, I was seeing that some of my sorority sisters and friends were reading Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. I didn’t think much of it, but it seemed to become more and more popular as time went on. I looked up the author and started to see what she was all about. In the beginning of 2019 I set a goal: to read more. So, I set a small goal of reading 12 books that year. I figured I could handle one book per month. I started seeing ads for a new book to be released soon: Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis. The title caught my eye because my (then) boyfriend was constantly telling me that I need to stop saying “I’m sorry” for everything. As a joke, I sent him a photo of the cover saying “Hey, this looks like a book I need to read!” Well, the day the book was released, I headed to my local Target and picked it up. I started reading it and was blown away. She simplified so many things that I found myself anxious about it my own life and they started to make sense. By the time, I finished the book, I knew it was something special and picked up Girl, Wash Your Face and was equally impressed. I started following Rachel on social media along with her husband Dave because I just craved more and more of that amazing motivation. They started to talk about their Last 90 Days challenge for the last three months of the year and I decided to try it out. If you’re curious about the whole challenge, check out my first blog post here where I talk all about it. The biggest thing I learned over that course of 90 days was the power of gratitude and that by creating great habits I can change my life. That challenge also inspired me to reach for one of my goals: launching a book blog.

Before I even started this blog, I knew that there was one Advanced Read Copy (ARC) that would be the dream to receive. Rachel’s husband, Dave Hollis, was coming out with his own book, similar to Girl, Wash Your Face, but geared towards those of us that need a little help finding motivation. I knew that it was difficult to receive ARCs from publishers and I figured that this one would be impossible to get because so many people are fans of Rachel and Dave’s but I started the blog. My Instagram following began to grow, more people started coming over to this site to read my blog posts, and I fell in love with the process. Once I picked up a decent number of followers, I decided that it was time to start learning how to request ARCs from publishers. I learned how to do it, and sent in a request to HarperCollins Leadership for Dave Hollis’s book: Get Out of Your Own Way. I didn’t hear anything back but I knew it was a long shot. I was just proud of myself for trying. Then one day, I received an e-mail from the publisher’s publicist saying that she sent the book and it was on its way. I was FLOORED. I had set a small but “big for me” goal and I had achieved it. I received the copy using the exact methods and teachings that Rachel and Dave talk about all the time. I did the work on myself, made a plan to achieve my dreams, and I made them happen. Opening that package from HarperCollins was such an incredible feeling. Not only had I applied what I had already learned from Rachel and Dave, but I knew I was about to gain even more wisdom by opening the pages of Dave’s book, which comes out on March 10, 2020.

Dave titled his book Get Out of Your Own Way: A Skeptic’s Guide to Growth and Fulfillment because as successful as he is, he is not motivated the same way that Rachel is. Rachel wakes up at 5:00AM every day ready to take on and conquer the world and do everything to make her dreams happen. She is naturally motivated individual with a growth-mindset. Dave, however, is not built that way. He has what he refers to as a “fixed-mindset”. He used to believe that personal development is for people that are broken and that there is something wrong with people who go to therapy. But from learning from his wife and deciding that he needed to reach for a better version of himself, he took a deep dive into personal development and learned so many tools to help him on his own journey of growth. His book is the toolkit that we all need to reach for more in our own lives, no matter what type of mindset we have. When things are hard, he teaches how to just “do it anyway”. He formats the book into twenty chapters. Like Rachel’s book Girl, Wash Your Face, each chapter of Dave’s book is titled with a lie or “limiting belief” that held him back. He used personal stories to demonstrate how each lie impacted him and how he overcame them. He ends each chapter with a list of three things that helped him, giving his readers the tangible, actionable advice they need to make positive changes in their own lives. The chapters that resonated the most with me were about shame, the compulsion to fix and care for others, worrying about what other people think, feeling lovable, and roles in relationships. But my biggest takeaway from his entire book came from the conclusion where he gives incredible advice about using leverage to go after what you want most in your life. As a bonus to the book, Dave even created a one-hour long e-course about “How to Find Your ‘Why’” that you get for free when you pre-order the book! And it also comes with the first thirty minutes of the book on audio! Click here or the link at the bottom of this post to pre-order!

Words cannot begin to express the value that Dave and Rachel’s teachings have added to my life, but I’ll try to delve in a bit! The most impactful thing that I learned from them is that I have the power to turn my life around. That, no matter how difficult life seems and no matter how impossible the traumas that I have experienced or will experience are, I have the power to continue on AND I can live a full and happy life, even after and during hard things. I did not believe it was possible to be happy after my mom died. I thought I would go on to live half of a life forever because how could I have anything more without her? But the power of a gratitude-practice every single morning changed that. I stopped feeling that life could never get better, because every single day I was writing down specific things that I’m grateful for and I realized that I am already living a good life. If I keep looking for things to be grateful for, I find them. Making them concrete and writing them on paper makes them that much more real for me and I stay in a place of gratitude for what I have and where I’m at, even when things are hard. I can honestly say that I am a happy person, and I didn’t think that could happen for me again. That’s not to say that I don’t have hard days. I miss my mom terribly every single day. There are moments when the memories of her are so crystal clear that it hurts to realize that they are only memories and I won’t have any new ones. But I am so grateful for the relationship that I had with my mom. I know that all she would want for me to is to continue on and reach for more in my life. She would want me to live the fullest life possible, and that is exactly what I have learned from Rachel and Dave. I learned that I am a powerful, resilient force that can get through anything and still live my best life, and I am forever grateful for the work that they do to empower others to find this for themselves.

I recommend this book for any lovers of personal development or anyone who is scared to dive into it or thinks that it’s overwhelming. I love nonfiction and personal development. I take notes while reading these types of books and took 17 (small journal sized) pages of notes of this book! If you’re feeling a bit stuck in a rut and don’t know how to motivate yourself to go after the life that you want, or don’t think you have the tools to reach for the best version of yourself, I highly encourage you to pick this one up and discover the power that you already have within yourself. This incredible book comes out on March 10, 2020. As Dave always says: Let’s GO!

Pre-Order Dave’s book using the link below! Then, head over to GetOutofYourOwnWayTheBook.com and scroll down to Step 2 to redeem the 30 minutes of audio and the free 1-hour e-course on “How to Find Your Why”!

Life Meets Literature is a participant in the the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com

The Intentional Pursuit of Happiness

Review: The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, & Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

The Preamble to the United States Declaration of Independence

I have had countless people recommend Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project to me so I was already intrigued. One day while my ex-boyfriend and I were on our anniversary trip to Napa County, we stopped at the most incredible bookstore in Petaluma (Copperfield’s Bookstore) that was filled with new and used books. I found three amazing titles on sale (each for less than $10, score!) that I had been wanting: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Phillips, and of course, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I was so excited to find these. Wandering through bookstores is one of the things in life that makes me the happiest. When I got home, I knew I wanted to get to these books ASAP. I ended up starting Big Magic first, because I’ve heard such great things and I love Elizabeth Gilbert.

But after I started it, I found myself extremely curious about The Happiness Project. In my own life, I’ve also started taking action to make myself feel better (emotionally, mentally, and physically) by participating in Rachel Hollis’s Last 90 Days Challenge. You can read all about it in my first blog post when I reviewed Girl, Stop Apologizing. But the basics are that for the last 90 days of the year, I do her 5 to Thrive items every single day: drink half my body weight in ounces of water, write down 5 things I’m grateful for, move my body for at least 30 minutes, wake up an hour earlier than usual and use that time for myself, and give up one category of food that I know I shouldn’t be eating. I’m not even quite halfway through the 90 days yet, but I can already tell you that I feel better than I ever have before. So, I knew that Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project was all about her doing her own version of intentionally seeking happiness for a full year.

I couldn’t wait to finish Big Magic to start it so I decided on the next best thing: to listen to the audiobook! I know that some people don’t think that audiobooks count as reading, but for those of us with busy lives, they are the perfect way to get in more books that we want to read but may not be able to get to. I’m incredibly fortunate to have the career that I do. I work for an incredible company estimating on large multi-million-dollar construction projects. But this means that I spend 8+ hours a day estimating on my computer, staring at construction plans & drawings all day. I love it, I truly do. And a bonus to this job is that I can listen to music while I’m working and better yet, listen to audiobooks! Yes! This means I can be “reading” for the entire 8-hour work day while getting my work done! It’s a win-win for me! My favorite types of audiobooks to listen to are non-fiction, personal development books. I love these books and I find that I get even more motivated listening to the author read them aloud and I feel even more motivated to work hard at work! The Happiness Project ended up being perfect for this.

Gretchen Rubin is a writer from New York City. She left a career in law clerking for Sandra Day O’Conner to pursue her passion to become a writer. She began to ask herself if it was possible to intentionally make herself happier. She decided to embark on a yearlong mission to design a life and take specific action in order to become happy. Is this possible? Can you come up with a plan and just decide to be happy, and then actually feel true happiness? The answer that she found (and I too, found this year) is YES. Gretchen’s project was far more ambitious than just 90 days though. She settled on actively pursuing happiness for a full year. She makes clear that her action plan is specific to her and that anyone can do their own happiness project, and that everyone’s personal project would look different based on their own lives, needs, and dreams. For Gretchen, she focused on a different area each month: January – Vitality, February – Marriage, March – Work, April – Parenthood, May – Leisure, June – Friendship, July – Money, August – Eternity, September – Books, October – Mindfulness, November – Attitude, & December – Happiness. To be successful and keep herself grounded, she gave herself Twelve Commandments to keep in mind throughout the process, such as “enjoy the process….lighten up….there is only love” and another list she calls “The Secrets of Adulthood” including helpful life lessons such as “It’s ok to ask for help…Bring a sweater…Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” These basic principles helped to guide her journey and stay grounded.

Every month, she kept a short list of action items to be able to tackle the overall theme of the month. She refers to each of these action items as resolutions. This helped her to keep them at the forefront of her mind and attempt to pursue them with intentionality all month long and then to continue to pursue them in the months that followed. She found that although she didn’t always keep her resolutions 100% of the time, by remembering her commitment she was able to continue on and improve in those areas far beyond what she had before. And after her year was over, she truly felt happier!

I learned an incredibly valuable lesson this year from both Gretchen Rubin, Rachel Hollis, and a few other authors as well: you are the only one that can make yourself happy. There are life circumstances that are out of our control. I know this as well as anyone. I cannot control that I have anxiety, I cannot control that I experienced difficult childhood trauma that resulted in PTSD, I cannot control that my perfectly beautiful, healthy mom went to bed one night over Thanksgiving weekend and died in her sleep, I cannot control that the trauma of that night compounded my existing PTSD and made it more complex. But do you know what I can control? I can control my daily habits, I can decide to pursue things that I already know make me happy, I can seek help in the form of a therapist, I can talk to my family, friends, and boyfriend when I need support. But the biggest lesson that I learned is that I have to be INTENTIONAL. I can’t just say “I’m sad, life has been so hard, when will I ever be happy again?” I have to say “I’m going to actively do things to MAKE myself happy. No one can or should do it for me.”

One of my favorite Rachel Hollis quotes is “If you’re unhappy, that’s on YOU.” That may sound harsh to someone that has experienced life’s difficulties and traumas. But I am here to tell you that it is true. I was grieving and very unhappy for a while even though I had beautiful things in my life. But I was spending time trying to self-soothe and to make myself feel better in the moment. I was not actively doing things that were actually good for me. Once I realized that there were simple things that I could choose to do every day, I felt so powerful. I realized that I’ve been yearning to feel happy again. While Rachel Hollis’s ideas were about specific daily habits and Gretchen Rubin’s ideas were about creating a plan for the year and building on what she learned, the overall idea is intentionality. You have to have specific things in your life that you are doing that will make you happy ON PURPOSE. No one can do them for you. As Gretchen Rubin says towards the end of the book: “After all my research, I found out what I knew all along: I could change my life without changing my life. When I made the effort to reach out for them, I found out that the ruby slippers had been on my feet all along…” Both Girl, Stop Apologizing and The Happiness Project are great personal development books because they truly help to give you an actual action plan. So many books seek to be helpful by introducing powerful concepts, but these books give you specific action items that you can do right now to change your life. And that is endlessly powerful.

Here are a few of my favorite resolutions that Gretchen pursued during her year of her Happiness Project:

  1. Toss, restore, organize
  2. Tackle a nagging task
  3. Fight right
  4. Launch a blog (oh hey!!!)
  5. Work smart
  6. Take time for projects
  7. Take time to be silly
  8. Be generous
  9. Keep a gratitude notebook
  10. Make time

Check out all the awesome books referenced in this post!!!

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This Book Changed My Life Forever. No, Seriously.

Review: Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing & Achieving Your Goals by Rachel Hollis

As most women do, I struggle with a truly horrible habit: I am constantly saying “sorry”. I say “I’m sorry” and apologize for EVERYTHING. I apologize for almost bumping into someone in Target, for asking a family member for something I need, and even for what I perceive as inconveniencing anyone at all, even in the most minor of ways. My ex-boyfriend constantly told me to stop apologizing because I have nothing to be sorry for. And the thing is: I know this! But as women, we feel this need to over apologize for everything. I am constantly working on stopping this habit but it has been ingrained in me since childhood.

One day I saw a Facebook ad for a new book that was coming out called Girl, Stop Apologizing and I immediately took a screenshot and sent it to my (then) boyfriend telling him, “Wow, this looks like a book written for me!” I looked up the synopsis and decided that I needed to read it ASAP. The day the book was released, I went to my favorite Target location and purchased it immediately. I did not know much about the author Rachel Hollis so I did a quick Google search and realized she also wrote the New York Times Bestseller Girl, Wash Your Face. I saw that several of my sorority sisters and friends had read this so I looked into her further and saw how much she has helped women with her honesty, relatability, and tangible advice for living your best life as your truest self.

I started Girl, Stop Apologizing as the second book in my “12 Books in 2019” goal I had set for myself and was instantly captivated by what she had to say. Rachel discusses her successes and failures in building her career and personal life and gives true step-by-step advice on how to achieve your goals. She laid the book out in three easy-to-read parts titled “Excuses to Let Go Of”, “Behaviors to Adopt”, and “Skills to Acquire”. In each section, she includes a chapter for each excuse to let go of, behavior, and skill needed to stop apologizing for who you are and to start pursuing your dreams.

Of all the topics that she covered, the one that struck me the most was the idea of habits. She discusses a set of five daily habits she has called the “5 to Thrive”. These include drinking half your body weight in ounces of water, moving your body for 30 minutes, waking up an hour early to use the time for yourself, giving up one category of food to prove that you can, and writing down five things you are grateful for. As simple as these things are, they are tasks that have to be done with intentionality. On her social media platforms, she was promoting a challenge called “The Last 90 Days” where from October 1st through the end of the year, you complete every one of the 5 to Thrive items every single day. The idea is to start the new year off as your best self, rather than waiting until January 1st to start an unrealistic goal after recovering from the holidays. If you can change your habits, you can change your life.

I was skeptical but I was looking for a life change of some sort. My life was going ok. On the surface it was great: I’m living in a house with two incredible friends, I have the job I set out for and I’m learning every day, and I have an amazing family. But over a year of unresolved grief from the traumatic loss of my mother and childhood hardship, coupled with a severe lack of self-care was causing me to feel stuck and like I was not able to enjoy my life as much as I should be able to.

I found a therapist that I love who challenged and encouraged me to take small steps towards my health and wellness. When I read about the Last 90 Days Challenge, I knew this was EXACTLY what I needed. I’m currently writing this post on October 26th which means I’m not even a third of the way through the challenge but I can already tell you that it is truly and utterly life-changing. Yes, it sucks to wake up early, to make it a priority to workout even when I don’t want to, and it’s super inconvenient to have to run the bathroom all day long because HELLO, drinking that much water means that’s what happens. But I have never felt better in my entire life.

I know what you’re thinking: “You mean to tell me those little things changed you after only 26 days?” Yes, they did. And I’m not even a third of the way done with this. The power of this challenge is in the habits. Doing these little things every day is what got me to prioritize my health, my mental state, and my overall well-being. I start my day early, but with gratitude. During my one hour every day I list 5 specific things I’m grateful for, do some goal setting journaling, plan my day, meditate, and read a non-fiction personal development book. Then I get ready for work and start my day coming from a place of taking care of myself. I drink water ALL DAY LONG and I get in a great 30-minute workout after work. I am happier than I’ve been in so long and probably ever. There is such power in taking care of yourself intentionally and doing things that make you feel good. I am better able to show up for my life and others when I take care of myself and pour into my wellness. Whatever form this takes for you, I hope you find a daily routine or ritual that fulfills you every day with gratitude, self-care, and intentionality and you will start to see all the beautiful things in your life to appreciate fully.

This book is great for all women, honestly, but especially if there is something that you dream about in your life but you just don’t know where to begin. Personal development is something that everyone should strive for but sometimes books on the topic are more abstract or concept based and don’t always tell you exactly what methods to use to grow. Rachel Hollis give true tangible tools to use in your every day life and teaches her readers to create a road map to achieve big, audacious dreams using exactly what they have right now with who they are and their own tenacity.

Have you read Girl, Stop Apologizing? If so, what did you take away from it and what are some of your big dreams and goals? If not, do you plan to read it? I also did end up reading Girl, Wash Your Face. Let me know if you would like me to cover that as well!

And don’t forget: Your existence is to be celebrated. Don’t you ever apologize for it.