Podcast 321: Ask for a Favor in the Right Way, an Easy Clutter-Clearing Hack, and Julie Lythcott-Haims Talks about How to Be an Adult

Try This at Home

Ask for a favor or opportunity in the right way.

This suggestion comes from Valorie Kondos Field’s memoir Life Is Short, Don’t Wait to Dance (AmazonBookshop). “Miss Val,” as she’s often called, is the legendary former coach of the UCLA Women’s Gymnastics team. She writes:

Here are some of what I consider to be essential qualities of an effective ask: know what you’re asking for before you make the call; have your request be succinct and clear; and be gracious, humble, and appreciative, without being apologetic, obsequious, or bullish.

She also adds that once you get an answer, whether yes or no, keep your response short—and “after the ask comes the nudge.”

Happiness Hack

A listener suggests clearing clutter by using space: set aside the space you want to devote to a certain kind of possession, fill it with your favorites, and give away whatever doesn’t fit.

We mention the distinction between abundance-lovers and simplicity-loversIf you want to read more about clearing clutter, check out my book Outer Order, Inner Calm.

If you want the Outer Order, Inner Calm Manifestoclick here, scroll down to Outer Order, Inner Calm, and download it. I do love a manifesto.


A former lawyer, Julie Lythcott-Haims served as the Dean of Freshmen and Undergraduate Advising at Stanford for more than a decade.

She’s written several books, such as a New York Times bestseller called How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success (AmazonBookshop), which grew out of her TED Talk, which has more than five million views. She’s also written a memoir, Real American: A Memoir (AmazonBookshop), and a book of writing prompts called Writing Memoir (Amazon).

She has a new book that just hit the shelves, Your Turn: How to Be an Adult (AmazonBookshop).

We discuss many subjects, including:

  • How this book, with the subtitle “How to Be an Adult,” fits with her previous bestselling book How to Raise an Adult
  • What it means to be an “adult”
  • Why we should embrace “life’s beautiful f-words”: failing, falling, faltering, flailing, floundering, fumbling
  • Why she cautions, “Don’t wait around for a sign that it’s time to start”
  • What ideas from the book are resonating most with people

Some insights from Julie:

  • “Adulting is the stage of life between childhood and death.”
  • “We’re in charge of ourselves in our adult years.”
  • “This is a process, it is a way of being.”
  •  “It is that deep knowing that it’s on me—and I can.”
  • “Perfectionism is the enemy of greatness and goodness.”
  • “Let me approach this one life as an opportunity to learn and grow.”
  • “Just try. You will fail. That’s totally normal.”

Try This at Home

Julie draws upon episode 313’s “Help people not disappoint you.” She observes that “We need to get better at asking for what we need.” Her suggestion: If you’re young and need to have a tough conversation with your parents, seek out your “trusted others” (aunt, uncle, a parent’s best friend whom you’re also close to) and tell that trusted other first, and ask that person to support you, and help smooth your path.

Four Tendencies

Julie is an OBLIGER/Rebel masquerading as an Upholder. (If you don’t know if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel, take the free, quick quiz here.)

Gretchen’s Demerit

Instead of watching a TV show that I know that I’d love, I keep re-watching TV shows that I’ve already seen many times. I want to watch the Fran Lebowitz documentary Pretend It’s a City on Netflix, but instead, I re-watch Game of Thrones or The Office.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star

Elizabeth gives a gold star to Violet, the eight-year-old daughter of Sarah Fain, Elizabeth’s writing partner and co-host of the Happier in Hollywood podcast, for being such an adventurous, cheerful good sport.


  • Are you trying to make (or break) a habit? Download my “Checklist for Habit Change.” This one-page checklist will help you use the 21 strategies for habit change as you work on a crucial key habit. Click here and scroll down to “Better Than Before.”
  • Do you love a great self-assessment quiz? I have a free quiz online to help you discover if you’re an Obliger, Upholder, Questioner or Rebel. It takes less than five minutes and you get the result instantly. Or, if you’ve already taken the quiz and are interested in a deeper dive into the Tendencies, check out my Four Tendencies course.

What we’re reading

  • Elizabeth: A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki (AmazonBookshop); also How Y’All Doing by Leslie Jordan (AmazonBookshop). We’ll talk to him next week.
  • Gretchen: Amy Tan’s Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir (AmazonBookshop)



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