I just turned 30 this year and sometimes think I'm having the longest quarter-life crisis ever. I still don't know what I want to be when I "grow up" so when I had the opportunity to review The Big Life: Embrace the Mess, Work Your Side Hustle, Find a Monumental Relationship, and Become the Badass Babe You Were Meant to Be, I thought, hey, maybe this can help me get my act together. Ann Shoket's book obviously isn't magical so I didn't finish it and immediately know what I need to do to have my Big Life but it certainly gave me a few things to think about to help me get on that path to being a Badass Babe.
Here's the (very long) description of the book, courtesy of Goodreads:
Millennial women are changing what it means to be powerful and successful in the world―for everyone. Forever. You want The Big Life―that delicious cocktail of passion, career, work, ambition, respect, money, and a monumental relationship. And you want it on your own terms. Forget climbing some corporate ladder, you want a career with twists and turns and adventure. For you, success only matters if it’s meaningful. Ann Shoket knows the evolving values of young women more than anyone. She’s the voice behind the popular Badass Babes community, a sisterhood of young, hungry, ambitious women who are helping each other through the most complex issues around becoming who you’re meant to be. As the trailblazing editor-in-chief of Seventeen for the better part of a decade, Shoket led provocative conversations that helped young women navigate the tricky terrain of adolescence and become smart, confident, self-assured young women. Now that they are adding muscle to the frame work of their lives, she’s continuing the conversation with The Big Life.
The Big Life is packed with actionable guidance combined with personal advice from high-profile millennial women who have already achieved tremendous success, plus intimate conversations with a cast of compelling characters and Shoket’s own stories on her quest for The Big Life. You’ll learn to tackle all of the issues on heavy rotation in your mind such as:
Written in Shoket’s friendly and authoritative style, The Big Life will help you recognize your power, tap into your ambition, and create your own version of The Big Life.
- How to craft a career that’s also a passion.
- How to get respect from a boss who thinks you’re a lazy, entitled, and self-obsessed millennial
- Why you need a “squad” of people who support you as you build your Big Life
- How a side hustle will make you smarter, hotter, and more in control of your destiny.
- Why work/life balance is a sham and you need to embrace the mess.
- How to find a partner whose eyes light up when you talk about your ambition.
While there's no real age limit on this book, or searching for and having The Big Life, I think it's ever so slightly geared towards younger Millennials. Nowhere was that more obvious than on the very first page of the introduction as Shoket explained where The Big Life starts - in your bedroom at 16 years old. Shoket's version of this teen dreamed of being a digital influencer and imagined an Instagram-worthy first apartment. I had hardly mastered the Internet at 16 and Facebook wasn't even a thing yet (to be fair, it would be founded a year after I turned 16), let alone Instagram. But all that is ok. I'm still a Millennial and the stereotypes this generation fights against are ones I have to fight against too.
Shoket is a huge believer that women can do bigger and better things if we help each other. I love that. It makes so much more sense than trying to take down another woman on social media or not assisting a co-worker when she has the opportunity to totally kick ass. Building up the females around you isn't going to hurt you. It can only help. Of course, that's easier said than done but it's definitely a thought to keep firmly in mind.
Something I found pretty interesting was when Shoket explained that Carrie Bradshaw's life and version of "having it all" has completely changed for today's young women. How we get ahead in life and in our careers is totally different than it was for the women in Sex and the City and everyone else in that generation.
When you read this book you'll most likely find sections that really resonate and others that don't reflect your life at all. For me, I wanted to focus more on the career and side hustle sections of this book than the relationship and family side of things. I have an amazing boyfriend and we don't plan to have kids so there's no concern about pausing my career to pop out babies. But I don't really have a career to pause anyway, which is my problem. Sure, I have a job that keeps the bills paid but I'm still looking to be able to use my passions for the majority of my time instead of trying to fit them in around a 40-hour work week.
There's a lot of Real Talk in this book and, for an introvert like me who hates criticism, it's hard to take a look at your own life and pick out what you could be doing better. There's nothing I'm doing wrong, per se, and Shoket definitely isn't saying anyone's current life is wrong, but I could be hustling more to help get me closer to that Big Life. On the flip side, Shoket also warns against comparing your life to those around you. You know you do it when you scroll through social media...I definitely do, especially when I've had a rough day or week. You also know that what's posted online is the shiniest version. You should be happy for your friends and jealousy shouldn't enter the picture. Instead, focus on how that woman has got to where she is. You probably didn't notice the hustle going on behind the scenes before she got to this point. I'm not saying I'm great at this but I'm definitely going to make a point of thinking about how those women - who seem to have it all together - got to where they are and how I can use their experiences for my own hustle.
Some people might find it odd that Shoket, who is in her 40s, is writing a book on how to kick ass at being a Millennial woman. But think about this. She was the editor-in-chief for Seventeen during the time many younger Millennials were reading it (I was already in university by the time she took the helm). She successfully ran the magazine and that shows, to me, that she really understands what makes us tick. Plus, she's made it her mission to help young women succeed in and out of the workplace. And she's the boss to many Millennials and there were a few instances in the book where that Gen X insight was really helpful to change my frame of thinking.
Overall, The Big Life is worth a read if you're really struggling with at least one aspect of your Millennial life. You'll definitely find tidbits in Ann Shoket's book that you'll flag and return to time and time again until your Big Life finally clicks.
*A copy of this book was provided by the distributor, Raincoast Books, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*