I was watching the TED video Refusing to Settle, and the speaker mentioned a friend who had a great job and life, and said: "He got this amazing job at one of the top corporate firms, making well over six figures, and he's got it all figured out."

The speaker later commented that "Nobody knows what they're doing. Nobody has it figured out.", as his friend was actually not happy with his own job.

What exactly does the phrasal verb "figure out" mean here? I looked into several dictionaries, the meaning would be 1) to understand/find out; 2) to calculate, either of them would be a little confused for me to adopt here.

Does it mean his friend is successful in life in every aspects, which indicates he has found out the real meaning of life and has solved all the problems in life?

Would appreciate detailed explanation of this phase in this context.

3 Answers 3


Figured out means "understood" or "solved", as you noted. I think the problem here is with "it" or "it all".

"He's got it all figured out" would, in general, means "he's got life solved" and would imply that the person has worked out a successful way of living. In this context, it would go beyond merely making a lot of money (because that was explicitly stated) to being happy, having success in other realms and so on. Someone making $1,000,000 a year but who was miserable would not have it all figured out.


If you figure out a solution to a problem, you succeed in solving it.

Here, the people's job is the problem they need to find a solution to, it's something they need to figure out. If you've got it all figured out, the solution is found and there is no problem - the job is no longer a problem once you start making well over six figures (at least in the context of your sentence).

"Nobody knows what they're doing. Nobody has it figured out." Again, it's about no meaningful and rewarding job in someone's life. Finding such a job is still a problem to solve, so they have to figure it out.


I faced this phrase in this context.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

As a child, I remember **having it all figured out**: I was going to be and ice hockey star during winder, a soccer star during summer, and a pop star during spring, ...

what I realized from the context, means I was going to be all possible things you may think.

therefore, in your context means. he has got all the possible stuff you may think.

  • Can you explain that further as to me that is not what it means.
    – mdewey
    Apr 17, 2021 at 12:45

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