I READ RACHEL HOLLIS' NEW BOOK AND HERE'S WHAT I THINK
Rachel Hollis' success is nothing short of meteoric. A year ago, I couldn't have told you who she was. An ex-boyfriend's neighbor? My best friend's co-worker? The dog walker I run into every Tuesday? But in the past year, I've come to admire the momentum this self-educated self help guru has managed to create. Do I think everything she does is amazing? No. But I respect people who not only turn their dream into success, but also use that success to help others. Rachel Hollis is doing both.
So when her publisher offered me an advance copy of her new book, Girl, Stop Apologizing (due out next month), I was excited to learn from her success.
Goal Setting Made Simple
Like a lot of people, I have so many goals and dreams that I often find myself wondering where I should start. I tend to go all-in, then find myself completely overburdened, overwhelmed, and ultimately unsuccessful. In Girl, Stop Apologizing, Hollis breaks goal-setting into a series of simple steps. The key takeaway is that success comes from manifesting your dreams and focusing on one goal, one step at a time.
The first ah-ha moment came when I followed her advice to be 100% honest about everything I want to achieve. In doing so, I realized how often I was tempted to sell myself short. When we don't account for every incredible possibility we may achieve, we end up limiting ourselves. We either act in ways that hold us back, or we don't create the infrastructure to make them achievable.
In addition, I found her method of identifying incremental mile-markers to be not only actionable, but also a huge confidence boost. I tend to feel like I'm failing until I'm exactly where I want to be, so a goals-within-goals strategy creates a feeling of momentum that keeps me motivated and positive.
Tips for Time Management
Underneath all of this information is a layer of honesty about exactly what it has taken for Hollis to achieve her level of success. She's an admitted workaholic, and she isn't shy about putting herself first. In a society where women are still expected to put families, kids, and spouses first, I find it refreshing to hear from some who refused to capitulate.
Despite the fact that she works her ass off, she also dedicates a chapter to boundary-setting. This is an area where I can really improve. Not only am I a "yes" person, but I also tend to offer to do things that aren't meaningful to me because it makes me a good mom/wife/friend. Her chapter on learning to say no made me more conscious of how often I follow the "should" instead of my heart. This has not only helped free up my schedule, but it also has helped me be more present for the people I love. And isn't that what truly makes a good mom/wife/friend?
With my schedule more open, it's a lot easier for me to adopt Rachel's planning strategy. When I'm not scrambling to fit things in, I can think about my goals strategically and break them down week by week. My one criticism is that Rachel doesn't leave room for those times when best laid plans don't work out. Perhaps in the aspirational fantasy life she's created for us, there is always a nanny ready to swoop in when your kid gets sick, or an assistant who can go fetch you a new camera battery when both of yours die the morning of a shoot. But in real life, we need to roll with the punches instead of beating ourselves up. I would have liked to hear more about that.
About The Help
Success takes resources, whether that's information, a scholarship, seed money, a gym membership, or childcare. And a lot of women suck at asking for these things. I, personally, am guilty as charged. I was raised not to have others do what I can do myself. While that gave me a great work ethic, it also made it very difficult for me not only to ask for help, but to accept it when it's offered.
Hollis argues that this is something we as women need to work on. And I totally hear her point! This book made me more aware of all the times I do things myself because I figure it will be faster and easier than teaching someone else to do it. While that may be true in the immediate future, the big picture is that those around me remain constantly dependent on me to do things. Whether it's teaching James to put his own shirts on, or showing Scott where the cheese grater goes, I need to ask for and accept help.
That said, I can't address this section without acknowledging that Hollis has more resources than most women. And I don't just mean paid employees. Many people don't have her research skills, nor do they live in communities full of people with helpful knowledge to share. If childcare is what they need, many can't afford it, and don't have a spouse, friend, or family member they can trust.
So while the advice she offered in this section was helpful to me, I also recognize that I, too, have access to resources that many people don't. I wish she'd applied her stellar problem-solving skills to a broader swath of the population, because I think that would make her even more impactful.
The Achilles' Heel
There are times when Hollis' tone-deafness made me cringe. To be honest, I was not a big fan of her first book, the bestselling Girl, Wash Your Face. I actually read it after her publisher sent me her new book. I was hoping for a more unique perspective than the usual "I did it, so you can too" self-help platitudes. Instead, that's exactly what I felt Girl, Wash Your Face delivered. I think that's why I like her latest book so much better. It was a refreshing glimpse into her thought process that added some new tools to my kit.
Still, in between helpful strategies for time management and goal-setting, Hollis persists in making a few sweeping generalizations that are real eye-rollers. For example, she states that everyone who does not have an infant under the age of 9 months should be able to get up an hour earlier in the morning for productivity's sake....unless they're a doctor who gets up at 3am.
I see her point: she's asking readers to carve an hour out of every weekday for themselves. She wants to create a movement so that this is no longer a luxury, but something women come to expect. I appreciate her intention here, but this ignores a whole slew of other circumstances that women who are not married, mothers, wealthy, or white may face. What about the single woman who works two jobs and goes to night school? Does she really need to be pressured to make time to do ONE. MORE. THING? I understand that Hollis' goal is to blast through the stereotypically millennial attitudes of victimhood and laziness. But in doing so, she sometimes appears to forget her own privilege.
There's a reason why Rachel Hollis's brand of tough love resonates: it's because millions of women not only want more, but need more. Many are being financially squeezed, feeling emotionally worn out, and are increasingly unhealthy. For them, a win in any of those areas would be huge. Rachel has won them all, but instead of positioning herself as an untouchable diva, she's fashioned herself into a relatable older sister. Hell, she even calls us "sis."
Perhaps this is Hollis' true genius: the ability to offer solid, actionable advice from an everywoman's perspective, even though she's no longer truly representative of every woman. That said, I think writing her off as just another wealthy white woman catering to a privileged few is anti-feminist (would a man be criticized for having help or striving for material wealth?), and ignores the fact that it takes a lot of smarts, ambition, and insight to arrive at her level of success.
Has she forgotten what it's like to be the poor, Pentecostal preacher's daughter? Maybe. But she's come a long way from Weedpatch. And there's much to be learned from her experience.