Live Better. Love Better. Work Better.

Present Over Perfect, Part II: How Do I Re-Make My Life?

Bridgette W. Gottwald, LPC, NCC

You may have read part one to this blog series, which was titled “Present Over Perfect, Part I: How Is Therapy Similar to Vinegar?” which discussed the similarities between therapy and vinegar, and the many benefits the therapeutic relationship can bring to someone’s life. This blog continues to share some of Shauna Niequist’s ideas and concepts from her book, Present Over Perfect that are worth living by. 


As we rush through the work week, our busy lives and crammed schedules, we often forget to capitalize upon stillness. If you want to be a truly connected and spiritual person, you cannot avoid true silence. In stillness, grounded-ness can begin. Personally, one of my biggest faults is always giving my best energy to things outside of myself. As a therapist, self-care is something I struggle with and am constantly working on. The more we pay attention to ourselves, the more we learn that in order to get done what we think we have to get done, we don’t have to damage our bodies and souls most to accomplish things. 

What are some ways that you can pay more attention to yourself and your own needs?

Re-Making Your Life

Life has a way of hardening people, and causing them to operate more as soldiers instead of wives, husbands, partners, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, friends and colleagues. According to Shauna Niequist, “the world will tell you how to live, if you let it.” You have the opportunity to construct your life, and it’s never too late to re-make it. All throughout your life you will have different invitations to re-invent, but they can be easy to miss. You’ll realize that you start to notice these invitations once you start seeking them out and looking for them.  

Burn it Down

In Present Over Perfect, Niequist refers to the concept of “burning it down.” In using this phrase, she explores what you can get rid of or destroy that will help you to create change in your life. What expectations can you rid yourself of? Expectations for who you have to be, what you should do, and who others need you to be can be damaging. It creates distance between you and the people that love you, as well as the beauty that the world around you offers. Free yourself from expectations and you will avoid heartache. 

How can you make space for a new way of living?


Many times we use noise to outrun things in our lives. When we are constantly trying to outrun, push and prove, we are often “turning up the volume to drown out a song that’s been haunting us all of our lives” (Niequist, 2016). Silencing the noise that is around you allows you let yourself to be seen and loved, not for what you accomplish or produce, but just for who you are. Not only can you create quiet around you, but you can create it within you as well. Maybe for once, us Americans can adapt to an attitude of less instead of more. 

Rest and Recovery: Have No Purpose on Purpose 

I’m sure you have heard the expression “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” Working hard is important, but there is a fine line between the concepts of hustling and aligning oneself. If we hustle so hard until we can’t hustle anymore, we won’t live an aligned life with peace and serenity. Taking care of oneself is vital and we must be mindful of how much of ourselves we give to things outside of us so that we can avoid losing ourselves or burning out. 

Amidst rest and recovery, in order to feel true joy, play must be incorporated into our lives in some way or another, in whatever this word means to you personally. Niequist defines play as “purposely wasting time” by “strategically avoiding strategy, for five minutes at a time…Have no purpose. On Purpose.” In doing this, you will slowly be able to adapt to the concept that life is all about the heart…not the hustle.


Niequist, S. (2016). Present over perfect. Zondervan.

Symmetry Counseling Recent News Image 4
Recent Posts

When to Go to Couples Therapy? When You Notice These 3 Sign

Apr 30, 2024

Zoe Mittman, LSW If you’re asking the question “when to go to couples therapy”, you are in the right place. I am going to spend some time talking about 3 signs couples therapy may be a good fit for you.…

Read More

Healing the Heart – Tips for How to Get Over a Breakup

Apr 23, 2024

Breakups can be extremely difficult for both the heart and the mind. Grieving the loss of a relationship is taxing both mentally and emotionally. Whether you initiated the breakup or are the individual being broken up with, the pain and…

Read More

Surviving the Holidays: 5 Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

Apr 16, 2024

Paula Gonzalez MA, LPC, ADHD-CCSP, CIMHP                                                                                         The Christmas holiday season can be filled with “tidings of comfort and joy!.” It can also be filled with lots of invitations to holiday parties that will have you “rockin’ around the Christmas tree…

Read More