How do people feel about personal growth books? I’ll be honest–I tend to be weary of them due to the sole reason that they don’t really push action for me. Books like that inspire, but what I’ve learned is that inspiration can only take you far. We often read mind-blowing and self-motivational books that rile us up to be more productive and ready. But afterwards, we’re back to our same old habits and mindset.
Marie Forleo’s book, Everything Is Figureoutable, however, is something different. In a nutshell, I would say this book acts as a perspective-shift and a call-to-action with anecdotes sprinkled in between. It brings to attention the undenying truth — that personal growth is not a quick fix but a philosophy that we integrate deep into our system throughout life.
Most importantly, it makes the reader work to get results by completing Insight-To-Action Challenges in each chapter. It’s these things and more that puts, what I call, accountability and work before inspiration alone. I dive into my favorite sections from this book below.
First of all… Who is Marie Forleo?
Marie Forleo is an American life coach, entrepreneur, and philanthropist who built her coaching business in 2009. Her own B-School program has helped other women go for their dreams through consistent actionable steps and changing habits. She has appeared on Forbes, Business Insider, and Oprah before starting her own Marie TV program to cover topics on leading a professional, personal, and mentally fulfilling life.
I was fortunate to come across her program a few years ago. And it’s still something that I work on as periodic refreshers. When I found out that she had a book coming out late 2019, I knew I had to grab it. What I got was Marie’s voice condensed into pages with relatable, straightforward, and honest content, gathered from her own experiences and helping others get results.
A Personal But Powerful Introduction
Marie starts with a personal story. It follows her experience with her mother, who she says, “…has the tenacity of a bulldog, looks like June Cleaver, and curses like a truck driver…” Despite being rarely feeling valued or loved once upon a time, her mother still held onto the promise of finding a better life.
Marie states how her mother would constantly be busy, tinkering something here and there that needed to be fixed, whether a leak on a roof, a tile on the floor, or her favorite Tropicana Orange radio.
Her response to being able to do these things on a tight budget is simple:
Nothing in life is that complicated, and that we can do whatever we set our mind to if we just roll up or sleeves, get in there, and do it. Everything is figureoutable.Marie Forleo
These words become Marie’s mantra and philosophy in life, and eventually the title to her book. It has helped her face several trials and tribulations before starting her life-coach business at twenty-three.
The Power Of Belief And Retraining Your Brain
A big thing that Marie vouches for throughout her book is the magic of belief. How that shapes our lives and livelihood from the moment we are taught how to think and act. This is not about simply believing in oneself to do something. It’s about first understanding where and how our deep-rooted beliefs are formed. Examples include through culture (at home and in society), through experience, through evidence, and through self-envisioning.
Our brain is trained to reinforce these beliefs by shaping our thoughts, feelings, behavior, and eventually our actions. Thus, Marie says, the beliefs that shape us can pull us back from overcoming small or big challenges. They can stop us from following our dreams, simply because our brain has been trained to secure us since birth.
However, every belief we have is a choice. And choices can be changed. Until we train our brain to accept that the inhibiting things we learn can be unlearned, or beliefs that cause us pain and suffering can be replaced, we would have a hard time taking the next steps towards action. Reinventing beliefs is definitely not an easy thing to do, which is why it’s a practice that needs to be revisited again and again. As someone who enjoys meditating from time to time in the mornings, these are some of the things that I work through in my head.
Engage With Your Passions Than Hunt For A Niche
There is a chapter in the book that personally speaks to me. As someone who is multi passionate and loves to try different things, finding the one thing that I’m destined to do is hard. And rather unreasonable. This is something that Marie acknowledges in her book. Even with discovering life-coaching as her forte, she states how exploring that alone still felt limiting and narrow. Career and business books offer conventional advice about dominating a niche, and how one can quickly succeed with a single specialization.
But Marie notes how trying to find a niche is a limiting initiative that prevents us from exploring our various capabilities. Instead, she encourages people to engage and experiment, to go for things that move us without being bogged down by whether that’s our destiny. The mindset has allowed her to dive into various passions – from dancing to writing books – even when they felt new or scary.
Clarity comes from engagement, not thought.Marie Forleo
Dreams and Doubts
At the end of the day, she says we still want to find and focus on a primary goal (even if it’s not our only goal) that inspires us the most. The clarity we find from engaging helps to create our primary goals, which then turn into dreams that we can define. Once we take the first step to understanding our dreams, then we can take the small, definable steps to go for them. One thing I wholeheartedly believe in is the power of the universe giving back what we put out. Since her book is all about putting in the work, Marie explains the mysterious forces, both cosmic and scientific, that manifest to help us in return. The more we do, the more our path becomes clear.
Of course, we as humans are susceptible to uncertainties. Marie says crippling self-doubts are normal. Fear is our evolutionary GPS that should not be seen as a foe but as a friend. Marie has gone from working at Wall Street (that she hated) to several positions in magazine publishing before eventually discovering coaching (a brand new concept at the time). Even then, she took up small jobs, like bartending, to support herself while working on her business. Throughout the process, she has questioned herself again and again, even blaming her ‘broken brain’ for being flaky on her pursuits. Persistence not only involves moving forward despite our fears, but acknowledging that fears are common and can be surpassed.
Starting Before You Are Ready
This is one mantra that I have been practicing for a year, especially when it comes to making resolutions before New Year’s Day. First of all, I don’t believe in resolutions. But what Marie emphasizes is that we can’t wait for January 1 to start them. Our brain creates a fallacy of productivity when we set a date and time to become productive. In reality, that shatters productivity fairly fast. To aim for our desired goals, we must start today. That way by New Year’s, we already have the momentum to carry us through. This also goes for anything that we don’t feel confident in pursuing. Confidence only comes from doing, she says, not the other way around.
Progress and Patience
Marie also hits on ways we can prepare for setbacks. One thing I learned is what she calls ‘Minding The Gap.’ That is, the things we feel, see, and know in our hearts (a.k.a our desired ambitions) are separate from our ability to pull them off. We can’t expect perfection in our execution, and being unable to meet the expectations we put on ourselves should not be a reason to quit. The only thing we can rely on is progress. It’s the single thing that gives us results, that brings us closer to whatever we seek to perfect.
Progress, of course, can also then be slowed down with unforeseen obstacles. It’s important, she says, to prepare ahead for problems by differentiating what is fixable and what is not. The latter can’t be helped but can offer ways to think outside the box if necessary. When it comes to pursuing our dreams, Marie stresses on a key factor – cultivating patience. In this technology-influenced society, we are so used to getting instant gratification that fostering patience has become rare.
The ease and speed of tech toys doesn’t map to real life. To build skills, earn trust, develop a body of work, forge relationships, gain mastery, or solve complicated problems, it takes sustained, relentless effort.Marie Forleo
Patience is crucial in every step to achieving a dream, even if it takes years and years.
The Undeniable Truth
The bottom line is that nothing can be done without putting in the work. And putting in the work will test us physically, mentally, and emotionally. Progress is not a steady climb but a convoluted squiggly line full of ups and downs, backwards and forwards. Dreams don’t happen without being humble and doing whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to get to them. If we are not willing to invest our time and labor into our dreams, then they were not really important from the beginning. Marie says that’s okay, as dropping one thing can then allow us to keep digging deeper.
Obstacles are unavoidable. At the same time, forgiveness and compassion with oneself are equally important to go through the frustrating moments. As stated in the beginning, all of these things are elements to integrate into one’s philosophy to practice throughout life. For me, I have to remind myself every day that the most I can do is put my best foot forward and be patient in my process.
Marie’s book is a helpful resource for serious dream-chasers and problem-solvers. It also comes in handy for situations we’re facing right now. With these COVID-19 quarantine times, it’s especially an interesting time to reflect on the things that are “figureoutable.” With all the tips she provides, she also stresses the importance of finding Community. We are stronger as a team, if not physically but mentally and creatively.
Marie Forleo’s Everything Is Figureoutable is available everywhere in print and on Audible. If you do not have Audible and you’d like to listen to this book, you can try a free 30-day trial membership to access it!
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Featured image credit: Julia Basak/Geek Gals