Book notes: Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis

Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis book summary review and key ideas.

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


“‘I believe we can change the world. But first, we’ve got to stop living in fear of being judged for who we are.

Rachel Hollis has seen it too often: women allowing their lives to pass them by. They feel a tugging on their hearts for something more, but they’re afraid of embarrassment, of falling short of perfection, of stepping too far outside the norm. Hollis’s energy and passion are undeniable as she powerfully narrates her own words, encouraging women to live up to their full potential and chase their most audacious dreams.

In Girl, Stop Apologizing, #1 New York Times best-selling author and founder of a multimillion-dollar media company, Rachel Hollis sounds a wake-up call and lets listeners in on her personal roadmap for success. She knows many women have been taught to define themselves through other people—whether as wife, mother, daughter, or employee—instead of learning how to own who they are and what they want. Challenging women everywhere to stop talking themselves out of their dreams, Hollis identifies the excuses to discard, the behaviors to adopt, and the skills to acquire on the path to believing in yourself.”

Opening thoughts:

I had read this author’s other book Girl, Wash Your Face and I really enjoyed it. This was on my wish list for a while, and then a coworker told me she was also reading this book. I decided to pick it up for this month because it seemed like a good complement to the other books I chose.

Key notes:

  • The author says the inspiration for this book was the Demi Lovato song “Sorry, Not Sorry”
  • When you understand you don’t have to justify your dreams to anyone else for any reason, that’s the day you truly begin to step into who you were meant to be
  • Reader’s note: OK so the author is definitely writing this for women because she explicity said so. Which is cool, I know I can benefit from learning insight from a woman’s perspective. I’ll just embrace my feminine side while listening to this book
  • The reason why women spend so much time apologizing who they are, what they want out of life, and the time required for them to pursue both is because they are afraid of themselves
  • As a child, we learned how to get attention
    • To a child, attention equals love
  • Achieving big goals both professionally and personally comes down to these three things:
    1. Letting go of the excuses that keep you stuck
    2. Adapt and great habits and behaviors that set you up for success
    3. Acquiring the skills necessary to make exponential growth possible

Part One: Excuses to Let Go Of

Excuse 1: that’s not what other women do

  • At an early age, we grew up identifying what’s wrong or what’s missing with us in comparison to others
  • We perceive people not as they are, but as we are
    • Author reference: Brene Brown
  • Most of us have been raised with a massive disparity between the way women should be and the way men should be

Excuse 2: I’m not a goal-oriented person

  • A goal is a dream where you put in the work. Hope is a beautiful thing to keep us motivated and inspired, but hope is not a strategy
  • Growth is happiness
    • Having something to work towards gives us a purpose

Excuse 3: I don’t have time

  • Is your goal so compelling, beautiful, so necessary to your future happiness that you’re willing to trade your current comfort in order to achieve it? 
    • Step 1: Make a timeline of your current week and account for every hour
      • This way you can find five hours a week towards your goal, which she calls Five to Strive 
    • Step 2: When something is important, you treat the time allotted to it as sacred 
    • Step 3: make sure your minimum hours are your best hours
    • Step 4: plan your schedule weekly
  • If not now, when?” Became her mantra

Excuse 4: I’m not enough to succeed

  • Limiting beliefs are self-fulfilling prophecies
    • We have to treat new things like we are a toddler that’s just learning and starting out
  • Focus on what has worked for you in the past, and apply those ideas to this new venture
  • You need to believe in your possibility instead of focusing on the probability
  • Exercise: Write a letter from yourself to yourself about all the things you’ve accomplished and achieved but maybe haven’t given yourself credit for
  • Our feelings of not being enough actually come from internalizing someone else’s opinion

Excuse 5: I can’t pursue my dream and still be a good mom, daughter, employee

  • We are allowed to spend some time on your goal that may take away time from those you care about
  • Work life balance is a hurtful myth because nobody actually achieves it but everyone feels like they need to because everyone else has
  • The goal isn’t to be balanced, but centered
    • Centered means you feel grounded and at peace with yourself. It means that you can’t be knocked off balance regardless of how chaotic things become
    • You have to prioritize yourself and make sure you’re centered so that everything else can run smoothly
  • Although she has kids, her most important relationship is her marriage
    • They have a date night once a week and have one annual extravagant vacation with just them two 
  • Mommy guilt is bullshit
    • It likes to remind you on the regular in all of the ways you’re failing your children
    • Mommy guilt isn’t about self-awareness, it is about self-destruction

Excuse 6: I’m terrified of failure

  • Achieving a goal is so much sweeter after you’ve learned and gone through so much failure

Excuse 7: it’s been done before

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is right now

Chinese proverb

Excuse 8: what will they think?

  • Non-judgemental people won’t care, and judgemental people will judge anyway so you might as well go for it
  • She refuses to teach her kids that you should pursue your dreams but simultaneously be ashamed of them
    • That is the trade-off when she has to multitask and do mommy responsibilities and juggle work at the same time 
  • All you can do is try your best
    • Someone else’s opinion of you and what you’re doing is none of your business
  • Nobody deserves mental and verbal abuse from the people around them. Ain’t nobody got time for that
    • When you allow it to happen, you are giving that person permission to treat you that way
  • Any opinion not presented in love should never be considered
    • Even those that are, should never be taken as gospel or internalized as truth, but only somewhat considered 
  • Eleanor Roosevelt once said “nobody can make us feel bad without our consent
    • Rachel adds “be very careful you’re not consenting to let your mind make you feel bad when nobody else actually did anything
  • Don’t let other peoples opinion control your life, and sometimes we wrap our own insecurities up and blame other people so we don’t have to take responsibility
    • It only matters what you think of you

Excuse 9: good girls don’t hustle

  • Well behaved women seldom make history

Part Two: Behaviors to Adopt 

Behavior 1: stop asking permission

  • Your behaviors are a choice, whether consciously or unconsciously
  • Feminist simply means you believe men and women should have equal rights
  • Grown-up women don’t ask permission
    • You can be a great person and be in a relationship with someone else
    • It is absolutely possible to manage your priorities and personal desires in a way that stays true to you and the people you love 
  • The people who deserve to be in your life care about who you, the real you, are

Behavior 2: choose one dream and go all in

  • There’s a difference between your one dream that makes your heart race and gets you excited, and your list of great ideas
    • If you only pick one dream, there is no plan B. Burn the boats
    • Having a bunch of ideas means when things get difficult, you can quit and say it wasn’t your dream
  • It’s very possible to grow in multiple areas of your life once you’ve achieved success in one area and established it as a habit
  • Write down your vision of your best self in 10 years and be specific with 10 dreams
    • Write this down every day to keep yourself focused on these goals
  • 10-10-1: 10 years becomes 10 dreams becomes one goal
    • What is one goal, one thing you can do that will get you closer to the 10-year version of yourself the fastest?
    • You need clarity on two things:
      • what are the specifics?
      • how will you measure your progress?
    • She doesn’t like having a time limit on personal goals because she feels like it sets yourself up for failure
  • You need to know your why you want this thing and use it as leverage to motivate yourself when you want to give up

Behavior 3: embrace your ambition

  • It’s never really other peoples ambitions that bother us. It’s our own ambition that feels scary

Behavior 4: ask for help!

  • She blames the media for perpetuating this myth that any woman who achieve great things doesn’t do so without a lot of help
    • This toxic myth that a woman has to do it all alone is what holds women back
  • No one is ever truly self-made because it’s impossible to build big things entirely by yourself
  • Your struggles don’t mean you’re weak, it means you’re human
    • Stop pretending, faking it, suffering in silence, and setting yourself up as a martyr
    • Stop taking it all on your own and feeling bitter about it

Behavior 5: build foundations for success

Get Healthy
  • Feeling great physically and emotionally is vital to ensuring success
  • Five to Thrive elements:
    1. Hydration – drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day
    2. Wake up earlier – Get up an hour earlier and use that time for yourself
      • If you don’t have an hour to spare, you don’t have a life
      • Reader’s note: this reminds me of what I heard Tony Robbins said on a podcast once and it made so much sense
    3. Give up one category of food for 30 days
      • Eliminate one type of garbage food, which can include fast food, processed food, or sweets
      • The challenge is truly: can you keep a promise to yourself for a month?
    4. Move your body every day – At least 30 minutes every single day, and it doesn’t have to be anything crazy
    5. Practice gratitude daily – Every day write down 10 things you’re grateful for
  • Taking care of yourself will give you the energy to pursue your goals
Get Your Personal Space in Order
  • Your home is a reflection of what’s going on in your head and your heart
  • Keep the spaces you can control clean
    • Put some effort into their appearances
    • These things are about self-respect and setting a certain standard for yourself, for your life, and for your children
Build a Great Community
  • You are a combination of the five people you hang out with most
  • If you are the highest achiever and most focus on growth and success in the room, you are in the wrong room
Develop great habits
  • When it comes to success, intensity is not as important as consistency
  • Making a positive change is very simple, but not easy or quick. The problem is the activity want to do, the bad habit, offer is a quicker reward then the thing that is better for you
Establish a Morning Routine
  • If you own the morning, then you own the day
    • If you own day, you own the week

Behavior 6: stop allowing them to talk you out of it

  • If you want to change someone else, change yourself
    • People change because they are inspired by someone else’s example, not because they were coerced into doing it
  • How to handle unsupportive relationships:
    1. Ask yourself if this person should be in your life
    2. Prepare before you see them
    3. Plan intentionally to make it easier

Behavior 7: learn to say no

  • If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no
    • Every yes to other things is a no to your priorities

Part Three: Skills to Acquire

Skill one: planning

  • A map only works if you know both your end and your starting point
    • You cannot get to where you want to go if you don’t know where you are
  • Start at the finish line
    • Starting at the end is effective in figuring out which direction your path should go
  • Figure out your specific “what” by having a specific “why”
  • After brainstorming, narrow down to 3 major things that will have the greatest impact toward your goal if you achieved them 
  • After you have your 3 guideposts along the way, figure out the “how” / mile markers, all the little things
    • Ask: what do I need to do to get from my starting point to my first guidepost?
  • Who you are as defined by the next decision you make, not the last one

Skill 2: confidence

  • Three things that make a big difference for building up self confidence:
    1. How you look
      • Every woman she knows feels more confident when she likes the way she looks
      • Disclaimer #2: confidence comes from you liking the way you look, not from you looking any certain way
        • Gaining confidence from the way you look
        • It’s about having a personal style
      • When you like the way you look, you’ll love the way you feel
    2. How you act
    3. Who you hang out with
      • If you want to be more confident, hang out with people who are

Skill 3: persistence

  • Don’t compare your beginning with someone else’s middle
  • Your goal is not some small, short, temporary thing
    • Truly chasing down a goal change is how you approach life on the whole, forever

Skill 4: Effectiveness

  • How to be highly productive:
    1. Replace your to-do list with a results list
      • Result: what is the end result I’m looking for from this work session?
      • Your daily results list should never be more than five bullet points. Hers is only 2 to 3 typically
    2. Reevaluate efficiency
      • Knowing the right result to aim for is half the battle 
      • Ask: is there something I could be doing that would make this more efficient?
      • Book reference: The One Thing (I should reread this)
    3. Create your own productive environment
      • You can’t wait for the perfect space to be productive
      • The key is to create an environment that can get you into the zone wherever you happen to be
      • It could be a small cue for your routine, a playlist, the type of gum you chew, the same coffee order
      • Any kind of repetitious cue you can give your brain that it’s time to focus
    4. Know what distracts you and avoid that thing
    5. Course correct

Skill 5: positivity

  • Attitude and mindset matter so much
  • Happiness and practicing gratitude is a choice

Skill six: lead-her-ship

  • She’s not trying to gain more fans or followers, she’s trying to help find and develop more leaders
    • These leaders are the example that will inspire and create many other female leaders in the world 
  • Leaders are encouraging, share information, hold up a light to show you the way, hold your hand when it gets hard
    • True leaders are just as excited for your success as their own because they know when one of us does well, all of us come up
  • Representation and diversity matter
    • It’s important for companies who sell to a multi-ethnic and multicultural world works to bring every voice in so that they consider as many perspectives as possible

Conclusion: believe in your dang self!

  • Doubt will kill more dreams than failure ever will
    • Belief in yourself will give you the strength to get back up again and again
  • In habits, you can’t change your triggers, but you can change the action in response to the trigger
  • Book reference: The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins
    • In a nutshell, you countdown to five and when you get to one, you teach yourself no matter what it is and how you’re feeling you will do the thing
  • Motivation isn’t about getting yourself to want to do something
    • It’s about making yourself do the thing you don’t want to do
  • If you don’t make peace with where are you come from, you’ll never get anywhere
  • Not everything happens for a reason
    • But it is possible to find meaning in everything
    • It is possible to make peace with what happened
      • If you only focus on the bad thing, then you lose everything else that came with it 

Main ideas / Themes:

  • Growth is happiness
  • The goal isn’t to be balanced, but centered
  • Any opinion not presented in love should never be considered
  • Don’t let other people’s opinions control your life. It only matters what you think of you.
  • Know your why you want this thing and use it as leverage to motivate yourself when you want to give up
  • No one is ever truly self-made because it’s impossible to build big things entirely by yourself
  • Your home is a reflection of what’s going on in your head and your heart. Keep the spaces you can control clean
  • You are a combination of the five people you hang out with most
  • Develop great habits, particularly a morning routine. If you own the morning, then you own the day.
  • If you want to change someone else, change yourself
  • If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no
  • Start at the finish line, establish your 3 guideposts, and figure out your mile-markers
  • Don’t compare your beginning with someone else’s middle
  • Happiness and practicing gratitude is a choice
  • Doubt will kill more dreams than failure ever will
  • Not everything happens for a reason, but it is possible to find meaning in everything

Closing thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book, especially as a great continuation of her last book Girl, Wash Your Face. A lot of great advice for people who want to increase their productivity and achieve their dreams. Rachel does a great job laying out a roadmap for achieving your dreams and true goals.

One thing that I like about this book is her writing style. It’s very transparent and fresh, which I’m sure her fans and followers love about her. She’s very honest and open. I think that’s what makes her so compelling to listen to. She’s simply giving advice on what has worked for her and genuinely wants to help others succeed.

The author also is a great storyteller, which makes the book much easier to digest. Sometimes when it’s all just information, it can be hard to get through. However, this book does a good job balancing practical information and intriguing narrative.

Overall, a great read. If you’re a fan of her work or have read the last book and liked it, you’ll definitely enjoy this one. I also highly recommend this for women who consider themselves ambitious and are looking for other great female role models who give great advice. Rachel is one part entertaining, one part insightful, and one part motivational/inspirational.

One Takeaway / Putting into practice:

There’s a lot of great takeaways from this book. But I think the most significant one for me that I started to utilize is:

  • 10-10-1: What is the ONE goal you can focus on that will get you closer to your 10-year version of yourself the fastest?

Combining this with her framework of establishing 3 guideposts + multiple mile-markers along the way, I think it’s a great methodology to achieve long-term goals. For me, I’ve established the person and and life I want in 10 years. I also have a handful of large goals, but have narrowed it down to one specific goal to focus on for now.

My next steps are to plan out my guideposts, mile markers, and establish the habits that can get me there.


As a great continuation of her last book, Rachel Hollis gives her readers a clear foundation and roadmap to success.

Similar books:


Rating: 4 out of 5.


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