c.2018, Seal Press
$16.99 ($22.49 Canada)
297 pages

Point taken.

When you were a baby, that’s all you had to do to get what you wanted. Point at food, you ate. Point at your bottle, you drank. Oh, if only it was that easy to reach your goals, huh? Nope, not a chance, which is why you need “Everything Is Negotiable” by Meg Myers Morgan, Ph.D.

In her position at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa, assistant professor and career expert Morgan helps shepherd students through the graduate process, and she helps them see where they’re headed. Over time, she’s noted that the female students she counsels tend to “negotiate” their future plans — although not with her but with themselves, “for the lives they want.”

In this, “they are losing,” says Morgan, because they aren’t being clear and they haven’t yet learned to outwit themselves. Sound familiar? Then you, too, need her Five Tactics to Negotiate for Your Life.

First, don’t confuse your wants with what someone else wants for you. Stop comparing, stop reaching for goals another woman sets, stop trying to compete because there is no competition. Know your own wants — and when you’re frustrated along the way, then remember that you have other wants.

Likewise, there’s always more than one choice and what you pick now can ease into something else later, one choice can become a multi-armed octopus of choices, or you can decide to chuck everything and start over. The best thing about choices is that they spread like spilled beads, into “countless smaller choices.”

Remember that no matter how many degrees you have behind your name, “you are the thing that stands between getting the job and not.” In other words, own the terms of your path, and own the fails. Don’t “give it your all”; instead, spread your “give” in other places and try new things. And finally, accept that there will be challenges and obstacles. You’ll get past them faster if you get out of your own way.

Once you get past that “Everything Is Negotiable” isn’t about negotiation as a business practice, there’s a lot to learn from it.

Meant mostly for women (though men can certainly glean useful information from these pages), this book uses author Meg Myers Morgan’s personal anecdotes to perfectly frame the points she’s making. Such tales, she says, help her students, and it’s a safe bet that they’ll help readers understand, too, even when they go slightly off-topic.

Those meanders in narrative get a little lengthy, but readers with patience — especially those who start to see themselves in Morgan’s words — won’t mind. The stories serve to soften the kick-in-the-pants that comes inside the advice, and the authority-clothed-in-bunny-slippers tone could give even the most timid reader a sense of bravery.

This is a great book for the college-bound or for a new grad. Women who are returning to the workforce will get a lot out of it, as will those for whom indecision is the default mode. If reading it will help, find “Everything Is Negotiable” and make it a point.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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