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

In this somewhat breathlessly written yet thoughtfully conceived book, motivational speaker and author, Rachel Hollis, tries to help women figure out what really matters to them in life and in work, and then take the right steps to achieve their goals.

Hollis’s basic advice to her readers is: not to be afraid of anything, particularly not to be afraid of what others may think of them; not to make excuses for their ambition and for their drive to success and leadership; and to focus narrowly on their most important life goals and to be willing to let other things take second place.

She writes:

You are allowed to want more for yourself for no other reason than because it makes your heart happy. You don’t need anyone’s permission, and you certainly shouldn’t have to rely on anyone’s support as the catalyst to get you there. Unfortunately, many women struggle with what others might think of the goals they have for themselves. So instead of chasing them, they let their dreams die. Or they pursue them in secret or, worse, with a nagging sense of having failed those around them because they’re doing something for themselves instead of everyone else.

Many of her suggestions – plan ahead in increments of years, not days; build on a foundation of good mental and physical health; prioritize work and family, not constant requests from friends and acquaintances; nurture a sense of gratefulness – are not new. But most of the time, Hollis is able to talk about these matters in a sprightly way and to give advice to her intended audience (presumably women in their 20s and 30s) as if she were that old college friend or empathetic work colleague that you wished you had.

Hollis is at her best when she speaks from personal experience. She talks about how she and her husband got completely lost on a vacation to Amsterdam, how she retreated to her bed during a childhood marked by poverty and her parents’ constant fighting, and even how and why she decided to undergo breast augmentation. All of these fit in well, somehow, with the advice that she is giving. When she explains why she never volunteers at school for class events for her four children, the reader may either laugh out loud or find a sigh of recognition. (Spoiler alert: It’s not because she can’t find the time.)

Hollis herself launched a successful career as an event planner, speaker and writer with little more than a high school education and a lot of chutzpah. The book is full of examples of initiatives that she could do, more or less, on her own:

For instance, when I wanted to write that first book, I started waking up at 5:00 a.m. in order to push toward my word count before my kids woke up. I learned to write whenever and however I could in order to get to my goal. That tactic still serves me to this day.

This example may not ring true for many legal marketers working in firms that rely on established hierarchies and methods. Getting up early in the morning can help, but most of us operate under constraints that don’t affect an entrepreneur like Hollis. But her teachings that there is nothing to be afraid of and that we shouldn’t care what others think about our career ambitions can resonate with us.

 Reviewed by Jonathan Groner, Freelance Writer and Public Relations Consultant

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