Book Review: Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo

by | Feb 14, 2020 | Blog, Book Reviews from a fitness and health perspective.

A must-read, even if only for her snappy one-liners!

As many of you know, I am a sucker for mantras — I love memorable, useful, repeatable phrases I can store in my arsenal of “productive self-talk.” I work at keeping my arsenal full so that when I’m on the verge of making a choice I KNOW I will regret, I can pause and walk myself off the ledge with an appropriate nugget of self-talk wisdom. Bam! I am back making choices that my future self will be proud of.

Here are a few of my favs:
  1. Starting small and sucky beats staying stucky.
  2. Analyze your actions. If you have been the problem then you are also the solution. Figure out what didn’t work for you. Then figure out what you will do differently.
  3. Action is the only path to change. Clarity comes from engagement NOT thought.
  4. Try before you deny. If you argue for your limiting beliefs and excuses you will for sure get them.
  5. Comparison is creative kryptonite. (Or as I would say, “thrive in YOUR own lane.”)

Really, it is no surprise that I love Marie. Her main takeaway, as the title suggests, is that “everything is figureoutable,” which is basically another way of stating my main takeaway: “There is always a health solution; you just have to find or create it.” I kinda feel like a mini Marie — and who doesn’t like feeling like a mini version of a woman who is friends with Oprah?? Marie is a fitness professional turned motivational speaker and author — sound familiar?  Plus, we both got our “we can fix this” attitude directly from our moms. You have to listen to her podcasts or read her book — the stories of her mom’s “I can take anything apart and fix it” antics are pee-yourself hilarious and very close to home for me. I came home from school one day to my mom on the roof fixing shingles.

So why should you read Marie’s book? To adopt a healthier lifestyle you need an “I can figure this out” attitude. Information is useless without a resilient and productive mindset — without the ability to implement the knowledge. As Marie says, “nothing works unless you do.” You don’t make change by staying on the sidelines. You don’t create your future healthier version of you by thinking, hoping, or having epiphanies.

Insight without action is worthless. To create your fittest future you — to “find your fit” — you have to learn how to take tangible, real action. “Taking action” is a SKILL — a muscle. Having a growth-oriented mindset is a skill — a muscle. These muscles need to be trained and strengthened. Marie’s book will help you create “mindset guns of steel!”

Fav Concepts

Stop with the “I know this” and “this won’t work for me” game!

To paraphrase Tony Robbins, knowledge plus $3 will almost get you a Starbucks.

Sure, you might KNOW the info, but are you ACTING on the info? Plus, what harm does it do to listen? Maybe you know most of it but you are reminded of information you had forgotten. Maybe you know none of it and you learn a ton. Maybe 1% of the information will work for you — but maybe that 1% is the difference between you making a health change and simply wishing for change.

Most of us are SO quick to think “I know this already” or “this won’t work.” What an easy way to deny ourselves even the possibility of learning something or changing something. Those thoughts are the opposite of having a growth mindset. Those are scared, insecure thoughts. Those are destructive “close myself off from the world” thoughts — viruses that work to shut your brain down and shut down any opportunities for growth and learning.

When it comes to adopting a healthier lifestyle the critical question is, “What among this info am I actually implementing?” Most of know we need to sleep more, move more, and eat less processed crap — most of health is Captain Obvious — yet we still choose a Netflix binge over a restorative sleep and sugar over an apple and a few almonds. If you dismiss everything you “already know” you will never adopt a healthier lifestyle. “What am I DOING?” is the question, not “What do I know?”

My challenge to YOU: The next time you find yourself leaning in to the “I know this” game, notice the game and take a pause to ask yourself “What can I learn from this?” and “How can this work for me?” Stretch outside your comfort zone — find opportunities. Poke holes in your status quo.

Starting small and sucky beats staying stucky — think progress NOT perfection!!

Every single self-development book that I have read to date (including both of my books) includes some emphasis on “progress.” Why? Because focusing on growth and progress is productive, while aiming for perfect is a losing game. Perfect doesn’t exist — if you wait until you know the “perfect” answer, the “perfect” next step, or the “perfect” way forward, you will never actually start. Instead of looking for “THE ANSWER” find “an answer.” Just START!!

Perfectionism is simply a form of self-sabotage. You have to start. You have to gather data.

In Kathleen speak, if you start you can always tweak as you go, but if you never start you not only have nothing to tweak, you also create loads of data that “proves” that you will never succeed and that your project doesn’t work — that you are worthless.  I use apologetic quotation marks on “proves” because this data doesn’t actually prove anything other than that you never started — not starting creates corrosive, negative, and FLAWED data that our brain then uses to justify staying stuck. Call BULLSHIT on that data. The data simply shows you that you never tried. SO START.

Ditching “perfectionism” doesn’t equate to ditching standards. NO ONE is saying you shouldn’t progress and learn. In fact, I am obsessed with learning. Perfectionism is NOT the same thing as having high standards; perfectionism is holding yourself to impossible standards.

Hold yourself to high but REALISTIC standards and be willing to work at building the skills you need to succeed. Be willing to start at “grade 1” knowledge and skills and move through your health grades. You probably are not going to be great at running now if you aren’t already a runner; maybe you currently suck at cooking healthy food; maybe have terrible form when squatting. So?? That data doesn’t show you are doomed to health failure. It just proves you have work to do. Who doesn’t suck at most things when they start?

Every pro starts as an amateur. Give yourself the time to suck and to learn and grow. Start as a neophyte. Don’t compare yourself to the greats. Compare yourself to where you were yesterday.

Perfectionism is a poisonous serpent — give it the finger. Lean into the acronym FEAR: “Face everything and RISE”!

You never truly fail unless you stop learning, unless you stay on the ground, unless you stop attempting to get up and try again!

We are all afraid sometimes. Being afraid is part of being human. As Cus D’Amato taught us, the hero and the coward have the same thoughts; they just take different actions! Or as my friend Kathryn likes to say, quoting John A. Shedd, “a ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”

Sure, be afraid, but while you are afraid take a few steps forward. Embrace that we all fall. We all do stupid shit. Fear is part of being human — and a useful part of being human. Fear keeps us safe. The trick is to acknowledge the fear and ask yourself “is it currently helpful in this form?” Analyze if the fear needs to be reinterpreted or reframed and if you can learn something through the fear. Maybe the fear needs to be reframed as excitement. Maybe the fear is really a trigger from childhood, and this moment is an opportunity to metabolize your past experiences and emotions. If the fear is telling you a real tiger is coming and you should run, RUN! Acknowledge the emotion and then act accordingly. As I always say to myself, all emotions are valid. All behaviours are not. Interpret your fear. Then pick an action that serves you. Don’t let fear hold you back from ACTING. The only way to prove the fear wrong is to ACT.

Don’t be short-sighted. If you stop every time you are afraid it is like stopping a movie in the middle and thus never knowing what happens to the main characters. You are the main character. You are learning. Push through and let yourself learn. Your life is simply a series of different movies — all of your stories have middles (the messy middle according to Scott Belsky Your job as a human is to push through, to learn, to grow — to put your pants on every day and do the best you can.

Remember, no one is a “failure as a human.” Failure is an event NOT a characteristic. We all make shitty judgement calls, BUT these are shitty judgement calls NOT who we are. When I fail (which I DO) I am not a failure; I made a mistake.

Learn how to spend your time

Own how you currently spend your time. Once you reclaim the responsibility for how you spend your time, you reclaim the power to change it. This is empowering. Choices that you make are choices you can change. Time flies, BUT you are the pilot.

The 30 minutes a day you spend on social media works out to 182 hours a year, which is 22 eight-hour workdays. That is a LOT of walks!!!! The 60 minutes a day you spend watching TV is 45 eight-hour workdays. That is a lot of time you could have been squatting! Those minutes could be redirected to walking, doing body weight exercises in front of the TV, and/or doing food prep. You HAVE THE TIME, but if you are like most of us you are not intentional about how you use it.

My challenge to you is to work at intentionally deciding how you use your time. (As Rachel Hollis would say, be “intentional AF” — i.e. be intentional as f*ck). Time is a valuable non-renewable resource.

To finish, one of my favourite concepts from Maya Angelou (Marie quotes it in the book):

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better”

In Kathleen speak, “Act. Analyze. Learn. All with self-compassion and curiosity. Progress not perfection. Just keep going!!”