Learn to Be Present, Not Perfect, in 2017


Tired of constantly feeling frantic? Rushed? In a perpetual hustle and bustle, unable to ever truly focus on anything, and not really enjoying life to the fullest? Read through the list of questions at the end of this post.  Ask yourself them. Jot down your answers.  See if by doing so, you can make 2017 a year where you learn to be PRESENT in your life (and quit being so preoccupied with PERFECT).  

First though….a little bit of context, as to what inspired this post.  …

One of my very favorite authors is Shauna Niequist. She has written so many great books, including “Cold Tangerines,” “Bittersweet,”  “Bread and Wine,” and most recently “Present over Perfect.”  (Ya’ll…side note. I actually TALKED to her on the PHONE one time. I had this book club, and we read one of her books, and then we just…called her. She put her phone number in her book, and we called it. And she answered. And she let us conduct our meeting over speaker phone with her. What?!?)

She’s amazing. You need to read all of her books…you really do. But you need to start with “Present over Perfect,” and here is why:

  1. It’s about to be a brand new year
  2. A brand new year = a fresh start
  3. You’re going to be tempted to make a whole exhausting list of goals (goals that, let’s be honest, you likely will forget about by February), many of which ultimately don’t even matter all that much anyway
  4. Trying to keep up with alladat is just going to stress you out, SO…
  5. Why not, instead, figure out the very MOST important things in your life…the things you just absolutely are passionate about, or just absolutely MUST get right (like raising decent little humans, for example?)……and laser focus on those things?
  6. You can do that, by learning the art of “being present, instead of perfect”

A brief synopsis of the book….

Present Over Perfect is an invitation to this journey that has changed my [Shauna’s] life.  I’ll walk this path with you, a path away from frantic pushing and proving, and toward your essential self, the one you were created to be before you began proving and earning for your worth. “

“In these pages you’ll be invited to consider the landscape of your own life, and what it might look like to leave behind the pressure to be perfect and begin the life-changing practice of simply being present, in the middle of the mess and the ordinariness of life”.  

While on vacation with my husband, I devoured this entire book. Like, in two days.  

Not too many pages into it, I whipped out my highlighter. (THAT was sexy, I’m sure) There were just so many things I wanted to remember/re-read. So anyway, I highlighted the whole book  some bits and pieces, and then I went back, and formulated a list of questions to ask myself, based on what I’d gleaned from the highlighted portions.

These questions are helping me to simplify and shed. To provide focus and clarity. To unburden and relieve. To increase quality, but decrease quantity.  

So…without further ado…here is what I am asking myself these days, due to Shauna’s (we’re on a first name basis) inspiration: 

1) What am I responsible for?

2) What things are in my control?

3) What things are NOT in my control?

4) What things am I doing purely out of gluttony (“the desire to escape”) or pride (“the desire to prove”)?

5) What in my life do I need to “lessen” (Less of ____________)?

6) What are the things that make me “me”? 

7) Is the way I’m currently living making me happy?

8) Am I saying “yes” to so many things that my spouse and children are only getting to see the most worn-down and tired version of me? If so, is there ANYTHING I could STOP saying “yes” to?

9) What am I having to say “no” to (that I should be saying “yes” to), because I am too busy saying “yes” to the wrong things?

10) How can I make my life simpler?

11) “Why am I even doing ___[this]__” (insert any of the many things you probably do on a daily basis)

12) What fuel am I running on? Is it anxiety? Desire to prove? Fear? Shame? Inadequacy?

13) Who am I?

14) Who am I not?

15) What do I want?

16) What words do I want to be the theme of my life?

17) Who and what should be getting the best of my energy?

18) What things make me say, “Hmm. Must be nice?”

19) How can I set my life up to where I am required to make fewer decisions, instead of constantly being overwhelmed with too many decisions to make every day?

20) Am I too overwhelmed by all the stuff I have to manage, to be focused on the things I am most passionate about? And if so, do I really HAVE to manage all those things?

21) What is THE THING that I love to do?

22) What does my passion bubble over for?

23) What do I need to leave behind, in order to recover the essential self I was designed to be?

24) Am I missing out on joy/laughter/silliness because I am too busy being busy?

25) What is my deepest dream?

26) What have I always been? Just automatically BEEN without even having to try?

So….there you go.  

Are you feeling inspired yet? All fresh and New Years-ey, and 2017-ish?

That’s only 26 of about 60 questions I jotted down, but I didn’t want to overwhelm you, and truly, I want you to read the book for yourself (have I said that enough times?).

I know it’s not easy,  with all of our wee little tyrants under foot, to set aside time to do ANYTHING except for, like, keep them alive and maybe do a load of laundry. If you can though, try to reserve some time in the next week or so to ask yourself these questions. It really will help you to focus.  

Get your year started off right…focused…priorities in place…clear thinking…by being YOU. By being PRESENT.

Because…screw hustle and bustle and rush and stress and being stretched thin and doing too much and not enough and everything half-ass, and most of all… just screw PERFECT! None of us can achieve it, anyway.  


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