Review of Now What? 90 Days to a New Life Direction, By Laura Berman Fortgang
Review by C.S. Clarke, Ph.D.
If you suspect or know that you need to make a major change in your life, and you tend to "read up" on things as a first step, this book is a good start for you. It's styled as a 90-day program. You could start from "square one" of floundering around without ideas or direction. However, even if you are further along and just need some more ideas, structure or inspiration, you can use Fortgang's approach at any stage of your process. Each chapter can stand on its own for advice, exercises and information -- and you may only end up using one or two chapters, or you may restructure and start from the beginning.
Fortgang covers the essential range of major life change. She shows you how to discover what you want, what works for you, what is your purpose. She challenges you to discover your false, self-limiting beliefs. She encourages you to remove some of the "filters" that block your clear analyses of your past. She points out blocks you may have in the way of "moving on." And finally, she helps you find your best ways of achieving the purposes and desires that are the aim of your change-- the "what" in "Now What?"
You might call this a "coach in a book." Rather than write the typical pop-psych, "how-to" book or workbook, the author begins each chapter with an introduction to the material she'll cover, much as a coach would introduce the structure and topic of a coaching session. She gives you some things to think about and then poses some questions. She goes on to discuss the most probable answers to those questions. She then gives you some exercises for you to use to work through the topic of the "session" in more depth. She follows up with a discussion based on the exercises and leaves you with further questions to consider. She repeats that very effective pattern throughout the book. And, she makes it all very interesting by weaving in illustrative stories and anecdotes.
What I like best is Fortgang's professionalism. As an author and a coach, she makes her book about you, the reader; as any type of coaching or teaching should be. Even the stories she tells about herself are told as mere examples, with how they might contribute to your process in mind. And she makes sure to establish early on that there are practical limitations on the coaching/self-coaching process: she describes issues that coaching can't address, issues you should explore with professionals in psychology. She encourages you to make sure that it is coaching you need first and not therapy.
Fortgang has websites at http://www.laurabermanfortgang.com/ and http://www.nowwhatcoaching.com/, where you can find out more about her and her books.