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Book Review: Now What? 90 Days to a New Life Direction by Laura Berman Fortgang

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Have you been wriggling around in your life somewhere between almost happy and fully happy? Are you itching to make a major life change — yet the obstacles are all you see and the self-voiced excuses are all you hear? Consider that it is fear and lack of a plan that may be keeping you stuck.

In her accept-no-excuses book, Now What? 90 Days to a New Life Direction, Laura Berman Fortgang outlines a 90-day path to a major life change. But this book is not for sissies or slackers. In fact, if you read it and don't take action, you may feel worse about your life than before you read it. Fortgang's book is not for “readers", but for "doers".

If you are not an action-oriented person, you may find this book unsettling because the self-coaching program dissolves the comfort you may feel from the hopelessness, sense of impossibility, overwhelming obstacles, and the paralyzing fear you embrace as "reasons" for not trying. The author provides detailed coaching so you CAN be successful in major life changes. She provides snippets of success on people who did complete the 90 day program.

My favorite section of this book is Chapter 3, Most Limits Are Self-Imposed. In this chapter, readers will find a way to identify the source of beliefs, assumptions, desires, choices, and the many unproductive thoughts and emotions which hold us back. The author identifies that parents are a significant source for many limiting beliefs.

In my work as a therapist, I ask my clients to identify what I call the members of the "committee in your head". Parents are nearly always on this committee in our head. It is critical for us to understand both the positive and negative influences of all of our committee members.

We often feel pressure from the committee in our head to make certain choices. In addition to parents, other members who may rotate on and off that committee are grandparents, relatives, friends, spouses, former spouses, coworkers, employers, teachers, and coaches. Fortgang uses the term "package" as a broad term for self-concept or image, which is typically shaped in our committee.

The author encourages readers to understand and selectively accept influences from their committees. Like Fortgang, I suggest that clients remain at the head of their committee while taking the initiative to unseat unsupportive members and invite others on board. The exercises and question sections in Chapter 3 are very helpful.

Chapter 7 contains an excellent discussion about needs and values along with how they relate to life happiness. The author is not using values in the moral or ethical sense, but rather in the preference, enjoy, and liking context. Again, the chapter includes exercises and questions, which provide a structure for the reader to complete a personal analysis of how needs and values promote their happiness.

I have always found it annoying when others have acknowledged my successes by saying, "you sure are lucky". This response always seems to discredit my effort and talent — while excusing the commentator from working toward and achieving success because of a "luck" factor. In Chapter 10, the author refers to a popular definition of luck as 'preparation meeting opportunity' and offers her own definition of "luck as a reward for taking responsibility for the truth" (page 192). Exercises and questions throughout the chapter pinpoint maximizing an understanding of luck, coincidences, and synchronicity to achieve a major life change.

Fortgang's book includes a number of insights focused on taking a new direction in life.

• Many people mistakenly have adopted the tenet that if you are good at something, it is a clue as to what you need to be doing with your life. But that is not necessarily true… (Page 68)
• It is very hard to extricate yourself from the life you may already created once you realize it does not match who you really are. Often, this can begin the regret roller coaster-this sinking feeling that you are trapped, that you made your bed and now have to lie in it, forever. Not true. (Page 73)
• Hey, if you have any doubts about moving forward with your life, you can always blame your inertia on money. Oddly enough, it isn't always the lack of money that stops us. (Page 133)
• Setting your expectations high and behaving as if they're a given can only be a great asset to your cause. (Page 200)
• Do one thing a day toward the dream. (Page 225)

The bottom-line message of this book: if you do it, you will succeed in creating change.

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