By Olivia Schmid || Columnist

Photo courtesy of Barnes & Noble.

Some people say that self-help books are useless and taboo; however, I would argue that personal development books (such as the one we will be discussing today) are only useless if you do nothing with them. They aren’t magic, but if you wish they were, I’m 100% with you on that.

Let’s face it—any way you go about personal development is a wakeup call, and oftentimes, you feel a little uncomfortable, whether you’re resorting to a podcast, a book, your grandma, what have you. You’re given resources that highlight ways to make your life into whatever you desire it to be like. The catch is…you are the one that is capable of calling the shots.  

Let me rephrase that. You are the one who HAS to call the shots.

The first book I’m going to be discussing is the one that helped make the self-help genre so popular amongst our generation in the first place. It’s the super bright yellow book you see at Target (and the one you see VSCO girls reading on the beach while watching the sunrise). As cringy as this may sound, there’s a reason it’s become so popular; no matter where you are in life, there is something to take out of this book. I mean, c’mon, it’s titled You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life.

Leave it to the author, Jen Sincero, to get real and honest pretty quickly. Split into five parts, Sincero talks readers through exactly how to finally live the life you’ve always wanted to live.  While I urge you to read it for yourself (because this column won’t do it justice), there are some huge takeaways in this book for your life right at this moment. So proceed!

First, I’ll give a little background on our friend, the author Jen Sincero. We’re talking about a woman who is not only a New York Times bestselling author but also a successful life coach and motivational speaker. Although she likely wasn’t born amazing, she molded her previous experiences and relationships with others into her dream life. And in this book, she teaches you how you can do this for yourself, too.

As I mentioned, You are a Badass is split into five sections: Part 1: How you got this way, Part 2: How to embrace your inner badass, Part 3: How to tap into the motherload, Part 4: How to get over your B.S. already, and Part 5: How to kick some ass. 

I’m not here to be your knockoff version of SparkNotes, but I can give you the overarching ideas.

Sincero starts by shedding light on our current state—more specifically, our subconscious. She points out, “No matter what you say you want, if you’ve got an underlying subconscious belief that it’s going to cause you pain or isn’t available to you, you either a) won’t let yourself have it or b) you will intentionally lose it.” Digest that for a second! It’s almost like we end up sabotaging ourselves sometimes before we even realize it.

She talks about “source energy” and higher power (whatever that means for you), in addition to the Law of Attraction and ways to raise our vibrations. And hey! Did you know that you can have the things and opportunities you always tell people you want? They already exist, my friend.

After she calls us out on our subconscious minds, Sincero delves into ways we can practice a little self-love (or a lot)!  This means appreciating yourself, drowning yourself in positive self-talk (which doesn’t make you conceited, by the way), ditching the self-deprecating humor (there, I said it!), forgiving yourself, letting go of the things in your past you cannot change. Sincero also talks about steps we can take to not care what people think, as well as how to get clear on who we are. If you like a structured list as I do, this is right up your alley.

Sincero goes on to discuss habits. Meditate. Act as if you’ve already got what you want (ever heard of “fake it ‘til you make it”?). Make a vision board. Be with people who keep you in a positive headspace. Love yourself. Keep being the beginner. So much truth!

Leave it to Sincero to define gratitude as “the gateway drug to awesomeness.” She isn’t wrong, though. As she says in her book, “You cut yourself off from the supply of awesomeness when you are not in a state of gratitude.” Say, “This is good because…” OFTEN! Everything has the potential to bring you growth, so you may as well intentionally choose to think about the positives. It will keep you accountable and help you see things in a more positive light.

Sincero offers some great advice on how to deal with procrastination, and for all my perfectionists out there, there’s a section for you, too! You have to remember that “the only failure is quitting; the rest is information.” She also stresses the importance of living unapologetically (and not being afraid of failure), and the fact that what you choose to focus on becomes your reality.

Sincero finishes up by talking about our “new best friend”—money—and how we should totally go for it by acting as if the money is already there for us to spend.  She points out that making money isn’t only about making money, just like losing weight isn’t only about losing weight; it’s more about who you become during the process.  In this chapter, she lists her 5 Rules of Wealth Consciousness.

Alright, I get it. This is a lot. To end the column for today, let’s focus on the main theme, the #1 point that we can take to heart and apply to every second of every day (even right now).  You have to love yourself. This is the last bullet point of every single chapter in this book, and we love a good bulleted list! I can’t tell you how powerful repetition is. This simple two-word phrase has been engraved in my brain ever since I read You Are a Badass during quarantine. We need to focus on loving ourselves and everything we are and do before it is possible to get anything out of the world. We love to look to the external things to bring us happiness and contentment, but the internal means so much more. It’s the different mindset that can make you go from merely wanting to change your life to deciding to change your life. Acknowledging that fact alone is powerful in itself. Once you love yourself, all the other points made in this book can come full force, and that’s when real life change happens.

If you can’t get enough of this book already, you know the gist. Run to Target and get yourself a copy (or if you’re like me, make friends with someone on campus who can drive you there).  

And just wait until next week, when we dig into another personal development novel!  Make sure to check out the rest of Jen Sincero’s series on how to create the life you’ve always wanted. Because who doesn’t want that?

First-year Olivia Schmid is a Contributing Writer. Her email is