You Are A Badass helps you become self-aware, figure out what you want in life and then summon the guts to not worry about the how, kick others’ opinions to the curb and focus your life on the thing that will make you happy.
One thing I like about aging is that with each year, I care less about what people think. I’ve always wondered why old people are so direct and unapologetic, but I believe that’s why. They’ve been around long enough that reality has reassured them countless times: opinions don’t matter. Especially not those of haters.
The sad thing about learning this lesson only late in life is that you might not have the energy or time to still achieve your dream, whatever that may be. So the sooner you learn it, the better. If you’re young and worried about what other people think, this book is for you.
Enter Jen Sincero, who’s seriously rebellious and rebelling seriously against humdrum life. After working for a record label, starting a rock band, failing, and then writing a book about that, she became a lesbian, failed at that too and wrote another book about that, before ultimately coaching people to improve their sex lives and later their lives altogether.
You Are A Badass is the culmination of several years of helping people transform their lives from loser to happy-go-lucky and it comes packed with fun stories and valuable lessons.
My favorite 3? Here you go:
Decide you’ll stop caring what other people think. Right. now.
Figure out what you want but don’t obsess about how you’ll get there.
If your habits, surroundings and friends don’t support you, it’s time to change them.
Ready to discover your inner badass and put him or her in charge? Let’s go!
Lesson 1: Draw a line in the sand. Now.
Do you know how you remember some people for one, distinct thing they taught you? With one girl from high school, the only thing I ever really learned from her came in the form of a status update she posted on Facebook:
If people say they don’t have time for you, it just means that other things are more important to them.
I’ve never forgotten this lesson. How you choose to spend your time is entirely up to you, so how you distribute it reflects your true priorities, no matter what you claim they might be. Naturally, chasing a distant dream of yours infers choosing yourself over others – and that always creates some fallout.
If you’re aspiring to be a writer, like I am, some of the comfort you usually get from hanging out with friends will have to come from appreciating the time you now spend writing. Being serious means putting in days, months, years of work.
You’ll lose some friends. You’ll go to less happy hours and football games. You’ll be laughed at. Ridiculed. Made fun of.
But none of that matters if you’re happy spending time chasing what others don’t dare to: To really go for your dream, you must put your inner badass in charge.
Lesson 2: Know what you want, but be flexible about the how.
Sticking with the example of becoming a writer, here’s how most people go about that particular dream:
Realize they want to be a writer.
Analyze every writer that inspires them in detail, learn about their paths to success and craft a masterplan of which track they can follow.
Give up after six months of analysis paralysis and not writing a single word.
That’s the kind of trap you should try to avoid at all costs. Jen suggests doing so by figuring out what you want, but not obsessing over how you’ll get there. Here’s an updated plan for becoming a writer:
There really isn’t much more to it. Imagine making your way through a poorly trodden forest. You’ll find and shape your own path as you go along. The most reassuring thing you can do to get the confidence to call yourself a writer is write, not seek comfort from other writers.
Over time, with more and more hours of writing practice put in, you’ll get into a virtuous cycle that positively reinforces your attitude – and thus gets you to write even more. This is what actually lets you make progress towards your goal. Not planning, or debating, or strategizing.
Lesson 3: When your environment doesn’t support you, change your environment.
Having the thick skin to deal with the ridicule of friends or shooting down their tempting attempts to distract you is one thing. Making a conscious decision to actually get rid of some of the weights that are dragging you down is another. That’s tough.
If your environment, your habits, your friends, even your family, don’t lift you up in your journey towards a life you’ll be glad to have lived when it’s over, it’s time to make some changes.
Those can be internal and external, as long as they shift the focus of your life towards making your dream the center piece. For example, if playing Bubble Blast for 30 minutes every morning over breakfast is something you enjoy, but that cuts into your writing time, maybe you can shave off the last ten minutes in exchange for recording a voice memo you’ll transcribe later in your day.
Similarly, if an old friend you see once a month spends most of your conversation time mocking your writing attempts, maybe that’s an hour a month you can save and, well, dedicate to writing instead.
I’m not saying these decisions are easy, but I have a hunch Jen is onto something that’ll absolutely minimize the number of regrets we have at the end of our lives – and that’s a good thing.
My personal take-aways
I get why this book is such a massive hit. It’s 90% motivation with 10% tactics and calls to action, thrown in at the very end. You’ll get really revved up and ready to go – and then you’re let off your leash. What a wonderful way of setting other people up for success.