Bethenny Frankel's Journey to a 'Place of Yes'

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Bestselling author and "Skinnygirl" Bethenny Frankel's new book "A Place of Yes: 10 Rules for Getting Everything You Want Out of Life" is a revealing account of her road to success and obstacles she faced along the way.

"I've worked really hard and I had many 'no's' thrown at me throughout my career," Frankel said today on "Good Morning America." And, she said, "I really did always come from a place of yes."

To Frankel, "a place of yes" doesn't always mean being positive or agreeing with others.

"It means that you go for what you know you can have in your gut," she said. "I'm not a yes-man by any stretch of the imagination. Right now...I say 'no' to a lot more than I used to because that's saying yes to myself."

Now a successful businesswoman, Frankel, 40, is a mom to daughter Bryn and wife to husband Jason Hoppy.

"It took me a long time to get there," she said. "Another chapter in the book is 'All Roads Lead to Rome.' I took a circuitous path, but...if you stay on the road and you're always moving forward, you will get there. Even if it's later."

In the book, Frankel candidly discusses her family, her varied business endeavors and even her failed relationships. She says she developed a thick skin and, more important, ten rules, which are the basis of book.

Read an excerpt from "A Place of Yes" below, then check out some other books in the "GMA" library

CLICK HERE to listen to an excerpt from the audiobook.

Introduction

Who I Am, What This Book Is About, and What You Need to Know Before You Begin

My parents make me crazy. I'll be stuck in this job for the rest of my life. I can't stop spending money. I'll never find the perfect guy so I might as well just settle. I don't care if I end up single, I'd rather be alone. Why do I get so irritated at my husband? I can't stop eating. I'll never get in shape, so why bother? I don't spend enough time with my kids, am I a bad mother? Why can't I get organized? I can't sleep. I have no self-control. Did I sell out? My life is not what I once thought it could be. Maybe I should just accept that I can't have it all.

Does any of this sound familiar? If you have any of these thoughts, if you look at your life and you think, "Is this as good as it gets?" or even if you don't really want to look under your hood because you're afraid of letting thoughts like this come out, then this book is for you.

A Place of Yes is about how to stop saying no and start saying yes to your own life. It's about how to get unstuck and start moving forward with vision and a plan and the guts to tackle any obstacles that get in your way. It's about looking, really looking at your life, then rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty and making it into the life you really want.

It's easy to say no, to say "I can't," to expect the worst, and doubt yourself. Expecting the worst feels safer because when you fail, you won't be disappointed.

But your life can be better than "just good enough." It can be amazing. You can be more successful, more fulfilled, healthier, and happier than you are right now. I know what it's like to think some of these negative thoughts and worse. Believe me, it has been a long road to where I am today. I've cried, pounded the pavement, picked myself up and brushed myself off time and again.

I know what it's like to doubt myself and feel out of control. I know what it's like to go for weeks without a good night's sleep. Many times, I've just wanted to give up. But I have also figured out how to conquer the noise in my head that holds me back and tells me I don't deserve everything good in my life. I've learned to listen to the voice inside that shows me the path forward and gives me a push. I've learned how to come from a place of yes, and it continues to be a worthwhile struggle every day of my life. Make no mistake—it is hard, but it makes my life better. It has made my life what it is today.

Fear, doubt, and defaulting to no are the reasons why so few people end up where they really want to be. Life is easier when you settle for less than your dreams, but "good enough" is not good enough for me. Is it really good enough for you? Most people don't bother trying to go all the way with their lives. They are afraid, or they just don't believe they can have anything better than they have now.

'A Place of Yes'

But you are reading this book, so I already know you want to come from a place of yes. I already know you want something more than settling for just okay.

A Place of Yes is your road map to changing the way you do things and to taking action when "good enough" isn't good enough. Coming from a place of yes can color everything else you do. No matter who you are and what you do in life, it will transform you. It's like upgraded software for your life. It will change your world.

My name is Bethenny Frankel, and you might know me from my first book, Naturally Thin, or from my second book, The Skinnygirl Dish. You might know me from The Real Housewives of New York City, or from Martha Stewart: Apprentice, or from my own shows, Bethenny's Getting Married? and Bethenny Ever After. Maybe you've seen me on Skating with the Stars, or tried my Skinnygirl cocktails, or seen my column in Health magazine, or seen me on the cover of a magazine.

Or maybe you've never heard of me at all but picked up this book because the title intrigued you and your interest was piqued by the promise on the cover. Frankly, it doesn't matter whether you've heard of me or not. You're here, and I'm here, and if you are reading this, we're in this journey together. We may not have started in the same place, but we can walk together for a while, and I bet we'll all be better for the company.

This book isn't a memoir. I'm not Barbara Walters. I haven't lived long enough to write my autobiography. I can't yet look back on my life with that kind of wisdom because my life is, in many ways, just getting started. I've still got a lot to do, and I'm the first to admit that I am still very flawed.

This is just my story so far, coupled with my advice to you, because while my life isn't over yet, I've come a long way, and I've learned a lot, and I hope to inspire you and help save you from some of the mistakes I've made in the past. So, while I will share my story with you, I do so with the knowledge that my story isn't nearly finished.

Not only is my story not finished, but it keeps changing, right out from under my nose, just as yours will. I wrote this book not once, not twice, but three times. I threw one version into the BBQ because it wasn't me. It didn't reflect me anymore. My life had changed so drastically, as I was writing it, that I needed to start all over again.

But that's also exactly in keeping with my story, and with the rules I've developed for getting what you want out of your own life. Sometimes you do have to start again, and you can do it over and over. When you find you are off track or your actions aren't in line with your true nature, you change course. You start again. It's never wrong. It's just what is.

I started this book again, and this is the new result. I wrote this book for all of you, as a way to thank you for all the love and support you've given me over the years. I've come a long way, in my fortysomething years, but you've helped me to be a better wife, a better mother, a better person. You've inspired me in ways I never could have imagined, so I feel humbled and grateful to have this opportunity to share my experiences with you.

You've showed me yours. Now I'll show you mine.

'A Place of Yes'

I believe that some of what I've learned can help you. I have some issues you probably don't have, and you probably have issues I don't have, but the ten rules I give you here can help anyone with whatever issues they face. Life evolves, and I keep learning and changing. I'm always in flux, and you are, too.

There is no final resting place. Life is vibrant and in motion, always changing, throwing you off or clearing the way. Sometimes life will be difficult, and sometimes life will be easy, and at every moment, you have a choice. Which way do you want to go? Where are you going? How do you want to get there? Who are you becoming? Those are the questions you can answer best if you come from a place of yes.

I've gone through a lot of pain and climbed over a mountain of obstacles. Today I'm married to a man I adore, I'm a new mom head over heels in love with her baby girl, I'm a bestselling author and a television personality, and most important, I feel better — physically and mentally healthier — than I ever have in my life. I'm calm, centered, energized, and happy. Ten years ago, I never would have believed I would be here now.

And it came from a place of yes. One by one, goal by goal, I've managed to achieve the things I wanted to achieve to the best of my ability. It's been one step at a time, one goal to focus on and reach before setting my sights on the next one. It's been a process of closing doors and then opening new ones. You can do this, too. To show you how, I have put together ten rules that describe what I do every day to keep moving forward. These rules have helped me break the cycle of self-defeating behavior and that inner noise that tries to hold me back. They apply to everything health, money, work, friends, family, love, eating, dieting, and anything else we all struggle with in life. You can use these rules to break the cycles that limit you and stop the noise in your head that tells you no. Each chapter in this book will tackle one rule, showing you how I've used it in my life, and how you can use it in your life. The rules are:

1. Break the Chain

2. Find Your Truth

3. Act on It

4. Everything's Your Business

5. All Roads Lead to Rome

6. Go for Yours

7. Separate from the Pack

8. Own It

9. Come Together

10. Celebrate!

No matter who you are, these rules can work for you. Anyone can practice them, at any stage of life. Your dreams don't have to be out of reach, no matter what has happened to you before. You can move forward, one step at a time, if you focus on the next step and just go. I didn't always think I'd be able to do it. Sometimes I wanted to give up, but I didn't. I always kept coming back to myself and moving myself forward, and I believe that my success so far in life has been because of that internal drive to say yes instead of no.

I get many letters, emails, Facebook messages, and tweets from fans, and you ask me a lot of questions. You say that you relate to me, and I am here to tell you that I relate to you, too. We all have our obstacles, our pain, and our challenges. I've dated all sorts, run from happiness, endured bad jobs, suffered from bad friends, tortured myself with bad diets, all of it. We all get in our own way sometimes trying to move forward and get what we want.

I hear you. I read your messages and I know that many of you struggle with the same things that have plagued me — issues with body image and weight, relationships and family, money and career, beauty and self-esteem. Some of you are single and searching, some are newly married and struggling, some have new babies and are navigating those waters, some are struggling to get a better job, more supportive friends, a better life.

'A Place of Yes'

I get it. I'm right there with you, and that's why I'm sharing my story and the lessons I've learned so far. Whoever you are, no matter your circumstances, no matter your age or status or plans for your own life, I welcome you to A Place of Yes. This is the story of how I climbed out of a bad place (many times) and back into my own life, where I could finally achieve everything I had ever dreamed of. Sometimes it got worse before it got better, but it always got better, and it keeps on getting better every day. Because of a place of yes, I know it always will.

This is also a guide for your life, a guide that will show you how to do the same thing I have done: Say yes. With the ten rules in this book, you can take back control of your life and make it into whatever you want it to be. Use them to figure out where you are now, who you are now, where you are going, and how to get there from here. These are "point-A-to-point-B" rules that clear your path for your bigger, better, brighter future.

Unpacking a Place of Yes

Before I get into the ten rules that will teach you how to come from a place of yes in your life, let's define a few terms that will be integral to understanding the rules. First, let's talk about what a place of yes isn't. Coming from a place of yes isn't just having a positive attitude, being an optimist, or being cheerful all the time. You don't have to see the glass as half full every second of the day. You don't even have to consider yourself an agreeable person. Hell, I'm in a crappy mood half the time, I'm a pain in the ass, and nobody would describe me as cheerful or agreeable.

And don't worry, it doesn't mean being a "yes man," agreeing to everything when you don't really agree, or saying yes to everything, like in the Jim Carrey movie Yes Man. In fact, sometimes, you have to say "No!" to come from a place of yes.

I'm not the kind of person who goes along with the crowd, nods and smiles, or compromises to avoid conflict. In fact, I try not to go along with crowd, I don't always see the silver lining, and I consider myself a realist. I'm definitely not a glass-half-full kind of person. Actually, I can sometimes be a shattered-glass kind of person. I guess I'm known for the occasional sharp or snarky comment (and that's an understatement), or taking the cynical perspective, and that's something I continue to work on in my life. However, I often walk the line between appropriate and inappropriate (my husband, Jason, says I dive right over it!). Oddly, that is a place of yes for me. It is my particular sense of humor, and also usually a reflection of what I really think.

The point is, the Optimist Club is not calling me to become an honorary member anytime soon. And that's fine. Coming from a place of yes is not the same as being an optimist.

Everybody has issues, problems, doubts, fears—and some people are just naturally more positive than other people. That has nothing to do with this. Even if you tend to be shy or abrasive or insecure or overly cautious or people often tell you to quit being so negative, you can learn to come from a place of yes.

A place of yes is an "It-will-happen-because-I'll-make-it-happen" kind of an attitude. And this is an "It-will-happen-because-you'll-make-it-happen" kind of a book. You won't always be in a place of yes. Bad things will happen. You'll get angry or depressed or negative. You'll doubt yourself and you'll sometimes be afraid. Occasionally, I utter the words, "I hate _____" (fill in the blank). Don't tell me there aren't days when you wake up and you just want to smack someone, and it would give you real joy to do it. I will not take the joy of thinking about it away from you.

'A Place of Yes'

I know what it feels like when your husband or your boyfriend leaves you all weekend to play golf or lies there like a corpse on the couch, his lazy ass watching football while you are cleaning the whole house. Does he sit in bed eating and farting, or flip the channels for twenty minutes, only to stop at the Victoria's Secret commercial as you sit next to him, eight months pregnant with hairy armpits? (Hmm, that sounds awfully familiar . . .) I've been annoyed by the loud breathing from someone behind me in a checkout line, by the instrumental music in a department store, by nosy people, rude waiters, or a coworker's mere existence. Frankly, sometimes I come from a place of go-screw-yourself.

This book isn't about being perfect, or even about being nice. It's about getting through your life in the best possible way for you, and learning how to stop getting in your own way. It's about making your life better, no matter what kind of person you are naturally.

It's about learning how to have and do and be anything you want.

It's important to understand that a place of yes isn't somewhere you are all the time. It's somewhere you always go back to. It's your home. It's the real you. The negativity you sometimes hide behind is just a protective shell you've built around yourself — a digression and a distraction from what you really want to be doing. Self-doubt is a bad habit. Fear is an excuse and a shield. Irritation is a sign of stress. Those things that keep you from saying yes and getting things done are habits you've learned, and habits can be broken. It's Not a Secret

A few more things a place of yes is not: A place of yes is not the power of positive thinking or the law of attraction. It's not a "secret." I understand the power of positive thinking and the law of attraction, and I believe in what those things are about. I agree that being positive and focusing your energy does attract good things to you, but not because of a mystical process involving some conscious universe that doles out the good and the bad according to who has the best attitude.

Thinking more positively changes how you relate to the world, but a place of yes is not some kind of mystical magical spiritual process where you just think something and it comes true. If you're not the type to meditate or chant or visualize yourself richer and thinner for three hours every day, don't sweat it. That's just more pressure. It's just one more thing you don't have time to do. Coming from a place of yes is about getting right down to business. It's active, not passive. Yes gives you something to do: a mission, a purpose, a goal.

If you don't have an athletic bone in your body, coming from a place of yes is not going to make you an Olympian, just because you will it to be so. You are not going to turn into an Elle Macpherson look-alike just because you wish to be a supermodel. You aren't going to become an astronaut if you aren't willing to go through the training, if you have vertigo or bad vision. Coming from a place of yes is not going to give you naturally supple 34C breasts or your husband a twelve-inch penis. It's definitely not going to bring Prince Charming on a white horse holding a sack of cash to your front door, just because you imagine it happening.

'A Place of Yes'

If you are a size 12, it's not going to transform you into a size 0 by tomorrow (or ever, necessarily). But it can help you love your size 12 self, or inspire you to get down to a size that is more healthy for you. It's not going to raise your IQ, fire your obnoxious boss, solve global warming, or "fix" your parents, but it can help ease your anxiety and obsession and self-destructive behavior that may stem from your feelings about any of those things. Coming from a place of yes will not make your crazy best friend suddenly see the light and stop choosing the wrong men — but it can help you stop choosing the wrong men. A place of yes has nothing to do with anybody else. It's only about you.

When you choose yes, your whole attitude will change, no matter who you are. You can be a born optimist, pessimist, realist, anarchist, whatever, and still come from a place of yes. You can be a meditator, a yogi, a kick boxer, a triathlete, a couch potato, and still come from a place of yes. You can be sixteen or sixty-six years old and come from a place of yes. No matter what you've done or haven't done or hate to admit you've done, you can come from a place of yes.

A place of yes is a way to get through things when you feel it is impossible to do so.

Your mind creates the landscape of your life. Your perceptions about everything that you've ever done and everything that has ever happened to you all come from your mind. Change your mind, and things change. However, coming from a place of yes goes a step further. You change your mind, and then you act on it. You don't wait for someone or something else to do it for you. No excuses. No luck. No passing the buck.

A place of yes is about taking responsibility for moving forward, even if you have to climb over a mountain of obstacles. You are in charge, nobody else. A place of yes is your engine. Your energy changes, and people around you sense it. They want it to rub off on them, and it does. Incredible opportunities start happening and people start reacting differently to you. The world around you changes, not because the universe suddenly decides you are worthy, but because you change it. You stop being a victim and you start being the ruler of your own destiny. And that, my friend, is the point and purpose of coming from a place of yes.

The bottom line is that when you come from a place of yes, you don't wish something to happen. You make it happen. You are driving. You don't daydream in the passenger seat of life; you don't hand over the work you need to do to somebody else and then sit back, waiting to reap rewards that never come. You don't wait.

Instead, think about the things that you wish would happen to you in your life. Are you waiting for them to happen? Deep down, do you think they won't happen? This can apply to anything—getting a job, finding love, losing weight, making more money, getting organized, making more time for family, whatever it is. How proactive are you being in reaching that desire? Coming from a place of yes is hard work, but it's the work of a lifetime, your lifetime.

Your Noise, Your Voice

Another important concept to understand is the difference between noise and voice.

I first heard the term "noise" years ago, from Breck Costin, a life coach who teaches a course called Absolute Freedom, about how to clarify what you are doing with your life. He used the term in a different way, but it resonated for me. I've thought about it over the years since then, and developed the idea into something that works for me.

To me, noise is what gets in your way. It's a self generated obstacle, the negative talk inside your head that keeps you down, too afraid to go for what you want.

There are many types of noise, and in each chapter of this book, with each new rule, I'll also talk about a specific kind of noise that tends to crop up along with that rule. Noise can come in many forms—food noise, money noise, beauty noise, relationship noise, family noise, call it what you will—each person develops personalized noise, but in general, noise is that feeling you get that you aren't good enough, or you don't deserve what you want, or you'll never be able to be the person you wish you could be. Noise holds you back. It psychs you out. It distracts you and blocks you and makes you believe there are insurmountable obstacles in your path.

'A Place of Yes'

Most of us have noise about something, but knowing this doesn't mean you'll automatically be able to make it stop. If you have noise that you don't recognize and can't control, and I say to you, "All you have to do is come from a place of yes," what you hear is, "All you have to do is quit your job and get a new one" or "All you have to do is eat less and exercise more" or "All you have to do is leave him" or "All you have to do is push this two-ton boulder up this mountain." We all know that doesn't work. It's too hard. Noise makes it too hard.

You can't do it because you don't know how. You're too overwhelmed. The noise in your own head is too loud. As much as you want to change things, noise is the elephant in the room that makes something achievable into something seemingly impossible.

Noise tells you to eat a bag of cookies when you are trying to lose weight. It tells you not to ask for a raise because your boss will laugh at you or tell you that you don't deserve it. It tells you that you won't ever be in shape enough to be seen at the gym so you might as well not bother exercising at all. It tells you that nobody good will ever fall in love with you. It convinces you that you are predetermined to live the life your parents are leading or led, or that you will never live up to what they expect, or that you can't really be who you want to be. Noise convinces you that you don't really deserve love, that you will never make enough money to stop worrying, or that you are just one of those people who can't be happy. Noise bullies you until it gets its way. In fact, if you feel bullied by other people, you are probably actually being bullied by your own noise, which can make you feel like a victim.

I'll never forget the night I was lying in bed with Jason discussing our future. We didn't agree about everything we wanted in our lives, so I immediately thought that meant we had no future. I hadn't yet learned that two people can build goals together, and that our desires can evolve. Before I met him, I had almost given up — I had assumed that I could have some of the things I wanted, but not all of the things I wanted. I had come to terms with the idea that my career came first so that was what I would get — a great career. Maybe I would find a way to have a baby and raise it myself. I was resigned. Even after meeting him, I didn't think I could have it all.

So even when Jason told me that he wanted a commitment and a family, I didn't consider that as a real option for me. It seemed impossible. I couldn't believe it.

My noise was wrong — as noise always is.

Noise comes out of past experiences where you were hurt or scared or just didn't learn how to believe in yourself. It can start from one comment someone made to you years ago that you believed, or it can come out of years of abuse or neglect. Noise makes you give up, settle, accept less than you wanted, or never try for the thing you want the most.

Without recognizing your noise, you won't be able to come from a place of yes. Noise is strong and has power. Your noise might be in a different category than my noise, or you might have noise in all the same places. There is childhood noise — the noise that repeats all those stories that you have learned about yourself based on what your family told you, that holds you back from growing up. There is career noise — the noise that tells you that you don't deserve to get ahead, that you aren't qualified to be where you are, or that you'll never be able to have the job that makes you happy. There is food noise — the noise that urges you to binge or starve or beat yourself up if you were "bad." There is exercise noise that keeps you on the couch because what's the point. There is beauty noise that tells you that you won't ever be beautiful because of this or that feature. Imagine if Lauren Hutton, with the gap in her teeth, or Cindy Crawford, with her beauty mark, or Barbra Streisand, with an imperfect nose, had listened to beauty noise? Thank goodness they didn't change a thing about their beautiful faces.

'A Place of Yes'

There is money noise — the noise that tells you that you might as well charge your credit card to the limit because you are so far in the hole that it doesn't matter, or that you better not dare spend anything on yourself because you are scared to death that you might not have enough money for something else. There is relationship noise — the noise that encourages you to endure horrible relationships, or attracts you to the wrong men, or tells you that you should get married now or you might never get another chance, or tells you to run whenever a relationship gets serious. Your noise will change as your life changes. Now that I have a baby, I have parenting noise and sleep noise and breast-feeding noise. Sometimes I lie awake and wonder, am I doing it right? What if I mess up my daughter? This noise is totally new for me but there it is — noise can come and go according to what is happening to you right now.

You might have other kinds of noise, too. Friendship noise, sibling noise, sex noise, clutter noise, body noise, cooking noise— whatever your issues are, whatever holds you back or stresses you out, that's where your noise is.

Fortunately, like the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other, your noise has a counterpart: it is your voice. Your voice knows what's good for you and right for you and what is authentic to who you really are. It tells you what to do, why you are good, and why you deserve the best. It shows you the map for reaching your dreams, and when you learn to hear it and ignore the noise, the noise gets quieter and the voice gets louder. This is the key to unlocking the best parts of yourself.

When you are used to your loud, rude, clamoring noise, your voice can be hard to hear. But it's in there. A Place of Yes is about how I found mine, and how finding your voice and learning to listen to it can allow great things to start happening to you. Because you'll stop getting in the way.

Sometimes your noise will be louder than other times. Sometimes you'll listen to it and go the wrong way. You'll make mistakes. That's life. Part of coming from a place of yes is to accept that you screwed up and move on. Forgive yourself and don't dwell in the past. It's okay because it has to be okay. It's what happened. If you can make something good out of a mistake or learn something from it, you are coming from a place of yes. If you keep moving forward, despite your mistakes, and if you keep trying, even when you fail, your voice will lead the way and you can always find your way back to your path forward.

If you have read my books or watched my shows, you know I'm not perfect and I don't have life totally figured out and under control. I will never pretend to have all the answers. I'm just someone who has learned how to stop getting in my own way more often than not. I'm on a path just like you are, but I'm managing my noise and I've learned how to make things happen in my life. I've finally found my voice.

My Story and Yours

I've put my experiences into a framework of rules, to make my personal lessons relatable and to help encourage you to go for yours. I show you how I climbed out of an unhappy childhood, dealt with the aftershocks of a dysfunctional family, built my business despite the obstacles, and got healthy and fit. I say what I mean and honesty matters to me, so don't expect me to dress it up for you or make it look pretty—it isn't always easy to go for your dreams, and life can get messy sometimes. It can even break your heart. I have given up a lot to get where I am today. I've worked harder than I ever thought possible, practically killing myself to achieve my dreams. I've taken on too much, broken down in tears—it has not been easy. But I got through the bad parts and so can you. There will always be more challenges ahead—but now you have the tools to tackle them.

'A Place of Yes'

No matter how hard your life gets, you can put yourself back together and come out stronger than you were before, if you learn how to come from a place of yes. Part of me has always said yes to my own life, even when the yes was nearly drowned out by my noise. That yes inside me was the part of me that recognized when something was a career opportunity or a life opportunity. That was the part of me that recognized Jason and the part of me that recognized that I didn't have to settle or give up anything I really wanted. Thank goodness I listened. Are you listening to your voice?

Because I learned to listen to my voice instead of my noise, I have gone from unemployed actress to sometimes-successful entrepreneur to personal celebrity chef to television personality to bestselling author, and that's just a partial job history. I've also gone from food-obsessed to healthy, money-challenged to comfortable, commitment-phobic to blissfully newlywed. I still struggle with noise, I don't always make good decisions about what to eat and drink, Jason and I get in fights just like any other couple, and I still have anxiety about money. I've suffered a lot, worried a lot, wasted a lot of time, stressed myself to the point of breaking, endured tragedy, but I've finally found some peace . . . even, dare I say, happiness.

Take It or Leave It

The last concept I'd like you to understand before we start with the rules is one I'll refer to often throughout this book. I call it take it or leave it. You can apply this to relationships, family, career, money, or any other aspect of your life — even cooking. In fact, I first came up with the concept in the kitchen while renovating recipes.

Here's how it works. If, for example, I'm creating a healthier cookie recipe, I might find that the cookies are not just healthier but taste better when I replace white flour with oat flour and white sugar with raw sugar. I'll take it—those are changes that work, so I carry them forward into my next cookie experiment. If, however, it doesn't work to remove all the fat—maybe the cookies are too dry or tasteless—then I'll leave it. I'll discard that idea and bring some of the fat back next time. Take it or leave it—you take the good and build on it; you leave the bad, in favor of a new idea. Most important, you keep moving forward, never settling for what doesn't work.

This applies to any area of your life, and it represents how you can learn from your own experiences. Successes are victories that teach you how to get what you want. Mistakes are opportunities to do something different next time. What worked and didn't work in your last relationship, job, diet, financial endeavor? You can always choose to take it or leave it. Unfortunately or fortunately, life is an obstacle course. You succeed at one thing and then you move on to the next. When an obstacle is tough, you try harder. When an obstacle is insurmountable, you change course. But you never sit down and refuse to finish. And when you do get over each hurdle, it's the best feeling—you're stronger and wiser than before you tried it, and you're even more ready to tackle the next one. The fact that there always is another obstacle can seem overwhelming sometimes, but then again, that's the good news. Life never gives up on you, either—it always has a new challenge, something more that you can succeed at achieving. And if you fail? One more lesson learned.

So stop waiting for someone else to fix things. It's time to step up to the plate. It's your career, your body, your health, your relationship, your money, your path . . . your life. You can be everything you ever wanted to be. You can have it all. Everything is about to change. All you have to do is begin at the beginning. We'll do it together.

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