Each month as part of our Intentional Growth Club, we read a book and hold a discussion night to talk about our takeaways from the book.
For our first book of 2023, we read How Are You, Really? by Jenna Kutcher. Kutcher is an entrepreneur and the host of the hit podcast “The Goal Digger.”
This book is focused on taking the time to dig deep and really get to know yourself. It’s about taking time to listen to those quiet parts of yourself that may be trying to tell you something important. And once you listen to yourself, you can take appropriate action.
How Are You, Really? is a deeply personal book. Kutcher isn’t afraid to tell us how she really is, sharing stories of burnout, discontent, and miscarriage. Sharing those difficult parts of her life illustrate her point that we don’t have to hide our true selves. Even successful women have struggles and being real about them helps us all get through those hard times.
Here are our top 3 takeaways from the book:
1) Find Quiet Time for Yourself
One of the most important things the book talks about is taking quiet time for yourself. This is your opportunity to listen to your body and check in with your feelings. Many of us are so busy running from task to task that we don’t take the time to stop and say, “How am I feeling, really?”
It may seem easier to avoid that nagging feeling of discontent or unhappiness, but these signals tell us something is wrong. The longer you try to run away from the problem, the bigger it gets.
“Our acknowledgment that there’s a problem opens us up to the fact that we might need to step up as part of the fix. We often avoid even pausing to notice a problem because we’re afraid to sign ourselves up as that person with a solution, even when those solutions could change our own lives. Being part of a solution requires a lot from us - the added pressure and responsibility, the time investment, the risk of how people react. Let’s face it; it’s a lot easier to come up with the reasons why we can’t do something than it is to muster up the time/energy/brain power to try.”
In addition to finding quiet time for reflection, use that time for rest. You don’t have to spend every waking moment being productive - that’s the fast track to burnout. Those periods of peace will recharge your battery.
2) Identify Your Dream and Go Get It
There’s a good chance that once you sit down with yourself and discover how you’re really feeling, you’ll realize that your life isn’t exactly what you want it to be. Maybe you are miserable in your job, but it pays well so you haven’t left. Maybe you’re sick of the hustle and bustle of the city and want to live somewhere with fresh air and open spaces. Whatever it is, you’ve found that in those quiet moments, your mind was calling you to something different than your current life.
Acknowledge those dreams held deep in your heart. Maybe create a vision board or start pinning on Pinterest. Tell your spouse or your best friend what your dream is. Make it real.
Then, go after that dream, one small step at a time. For Kutcher, the first step was buying a camera. It eventually turned into a hugely successful wedding photography business for her. Those little steps, taken in the spare time after work or on weekends, build up until they have a life of their own.
The middle section of the book and a good portion of the last section are devoted to how you can get the necessary support and make the life changes needed to go for your dreams. Jenna Kutcher’s website also has a ton of resources to supplement the book and support your journey, so be sure to check them out as you read the book!
3) Boundaries Prevent Burnout
This book talks a lot about burnout. Kutcher is the type of person to push herself hard and it’s clearly made her successful, but she also talks about seasons of burnout in her book. Having a strong drive for success is a wonderful trait - as long as you don’t run yourself ragged because of it.
One of the best ways to prevent burnout is to set boundaries for yourself. It can be hard to tell yourself to slow down and take a rest because there’s just SO MUCH that needs to be done. Eventually though, that relentless productivity will take a toll and you’ll have to stop to recover for longer than if you had just taken a few breaks.
“The truth is, boundaries aren’t solely for keeping people, or whatever powers that be, out…they’re a good that can keep you in your life. Boundaries protect yourself from staying in constant motion because that’s when we stay so busy and distracted we stop listening to our souls, checking in with our bodies, or hearing our intuition.”
The whole chapter about boundaries (Chapter 18) was one of my favorites of the book. Kutcher recommends finding your “enough point” to help set those boundaries. You can always push for more and more in your life, but you will never be satisfied if you’re always seeking more. Instead, seek enough.
That’s not an invitation to settle for less. It’s an opportunity to have a firm definition of success. What constitutes enough will be unique for every person. Here are a few questions Kutcher offers to help determine your enough point:
Where will you allow yourself to feel contentment without worrying that you’ve become complacent?
How will you establish what you truly need so that you can start go after what it is you really want?
How will you define success?
How Are You, Really? was a great way to start the new year on a positive foot, with a reminder to check in on yourself. As much as we love setting goals and chasing growth, it's just as important to take quiet time to check in with your emotions.
Join us on January 31st at 6:30 CST for our book club discussion about How Are You, Really? Register here: https://bit.ly/JennQuestBookClub
Can't join us for the discussion? Leave us a comment below to let us know what you thought of the book!
Next month, we'll be reading Suddenly in Charge by Roberta Chinsky Matuson.
Hi, my name is Elysse Ruggles. I'm doing some guest blogging with JennQuest this year. I love being part of the book club and I'm looking forward to sharing more of my takeaways from these great reads with all of you!