I’ve been intrigued by what I’m reading in Brene Brown’s book The Gift of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed To Be and Embrace Who You Are. “Gosh Susan, why are you reading that?” Because I’m a recovering Type A, overachieving, perfectionistic, list-maker… emphasis on the word “RECOVERING”. Years ago, when I was first told that I had type B negative blood, I seriously thought, “Why couldn’t it be an A?” I’m not joking. That was honestly my initial thought!
That’s how much my perfectionist tendencies were ingrained in me. I can laugh at that now but it’s taken a while to see that this perfectionism, while it helped me get where I am today, didn’t just prevent me from enjoying success. It kept me from enjoying the present.
So I’ve chosen a path of greater self-acceptance & gentleness. I’m by no stretch of the imagination a “reformed perfectionist” but I’m well on the road to recovery.
If there was a 12-step program for overachievers, it would include:
Brene Brown asks us to consider whether or not the dream we have for our future aligns with what brings joy and meaning to our lives. Or, is the dream list merely a list of accomplishments and acquisitions, such as “get a promotion”. “add a new addition to the house”, or “buy a boat”. Am I driven to follow a path of joy & meaning or is the perfectionism driving me to pursue things that keep me chained to a life of constant reaching, striving, gaining, & reaching for more? Am I trying to please myself or impress someone else?
Intriguing… and an opportunity for me to make TWO lists! (I said I was recovering.) I eagerly grabbed a sheet of loose-leaf paper (the best for list-making) & divided the page into two columns. The left side was “Joy & Meaning” and the right side was “My Dream for My Future”.
Let’s see how well these two align… Under Joy & Meaning, the list included my boyfriend, dogs, creative expression, nature, good food, friends, serenity, and my spirituality. Easy. Let’s see what’s under the dream category…. more time with Jim, dogs, my art, nature, friends, and spiritual exploration. (Quite a few that relate to my professional life but I’ll keep those to myself.) There were no material possessions on that list and no accomplishments outside of the burning desire (need) to have a more meaningful, joyful professional life. For me, what I dream of having in greater quantities are those things that already bring joy and meaning to my life. (And having the wisdom, courage, & support to shed what doesn’t.)
“Is the dream you are pursuing aligned with what brings the most joy and meaning to your life?”