It’s an attribute I can look back and see in myself even as a young child. I’m a competitor. Trying new things is my jam and I’m always up for a challenge. For me it’s not about being the best, but I always want to give my best. So, I work really hard at anything I put my mind to.
I only started identifying with the word “achiever” after taking the Strengths Finder years ago. I’m an absolute sucker for personality assessment (hello psychology major) and have taken all of the big players : Enneagram, Strengths Finder, Myers Briggs … you get the picture.
There is something beautiful about a “name”. Don’t you agree? If I’m sick, I want the doctor to name the illness. A name gives a starting point. Personality assessments give a name to our unique box of traits. The way we tick and think and act and react are more understandable when we name them.
In many ways, labels help us understand ourselves and our circumstances better.
But as a wise counselor (aka my husband) once told me after an embarrassingly long rabbit trail on which enneagram type I actually am (1 or 3 or 9 or …the jury is still out)!
“Shanna, you’re not a number, you’re just Shanna”.
Labels are helpful… until they aren’t.
I’ve always identified with being an achiever until I actually started achieving really big things. After years of working really really hard, I realized that the person I truly wanted to be and the life I really wanted to live were somehow being cramped by these big achievements I was achieving.
Over the past few years I found myself time and again weary of the go-go-go, more-more-more, treadmill existence this world often throws our way.
When will enough be enough?
And there, smack dab in the middle of my “best year” in business, I was in the midst of an identity struggle.
Am I no longer ambitious?
Am I a hustle shamer?
Am I getting in my own way?
Am I getting in the way of others?
The world (*cough* social media) has a way of painting achievement through rose-colored glasses. What about the cost of achievement? Who is going to talk about that?
“Maybe it is just me”, I thought. Perhaps I’m doing it wrong?
If only I had better systems or boundaries or email funnels, could I then manage it all?
From where I am standing the cost of achievement is high. But, somehow others make it look so easy…
In 2019 my world was shaken up. We moved across the country, Kyle changed jobs, and I wrestled with the future of my own company finally making the decision to close it all down for a while. Life changed. I wrestled. I found myself spiraling with my future and my path and my calling.
Ending the day without a list of accomplishments, in the world of an achiever, is basically like a day without oxygen. It gets hard to breathe.
For the past seven years, I’ve been all-in building my business. Yes, I had pretty good boundaries as a business owner (most of the time at least) so my marriage is good, I have a social life, and a lot of really cool trips I can tell you about. But, I’ve also let my health slip over and over again throughout the years not to mention hobbies. Who has time for hobbies?
Often running on low fumes, I tend to put my head down and put my energy toward the most “productive” and profitable things. This wasn’t the plan, it was just a byproduct of having a full plate.
We naturally let go of what is deemed “non-essential” when our heads are barely above water. I just happened to look up from my keyboard one day and found myself saddened at the things I had unintentionally let go.
It’s no surprise I started to feel like a one-dimensional person. Work on the brain most of the time.
And then I had an idea … what if I spent an entire year not trying to figure it all out?
Not charting the path. Not figuring out my calling. Not going from A to Z, rinse and repeat. But instead, just living. Doing things I haven’t had time to do. Things that don’t earn me a paycheck, but just enhance the life I am living.
What a crazy idea to spend a year investing time and energy into activities simply because I was curious to try them.
So, as I tend to do, I decided that’s exactly what I’d do.
This year while I take a year-long sabbatical from work, I’m going to fill my time with things I’m curious about!
If you like details, here they are: I started with a list of activities I’ve been wanting to try. Some I’ve done before while others are brand new to me! During draft one of the planning process, my over ambitious self set out to complete one activity per month. That idea was quickly scratched as I realized some of these activities will take multiple months, some are one and done, others may not be feasible at all, and in the end this is not about achieving them. It’s just about doing them.
So by the final draft, I landed on fifteen activities I’m interested in doing and hope to complete twelve over the course of the next year.
Furniture Upholstery because this would be such an amazing skill to have!
Photography & Editing because I’ve always loved photography and want to take more photos of our family. I want to document more life but never at the expense of actually living it!
Become a Better Writer Oh so excited about this one! I’m a very slow writer and slow progress is hard for me. I like to achieve and move on. I wanted to challenge myself to cultivate a skill that takes time. To put in the work even if the rewards aren’t seen immediately. I’m not sure exactly how this will look yet. I don’t foresee myself writing everyday or even sharing most of what I write. But I want to practice.
If you have any resources on becoming a better writer, I’d love for you to send them my way!
Speak Italian well enough to navigate us through Italy. Kyle and I booked a trip to Italy for our 10-year anniversary this year!
Become a fitness instructor. Ok, this is one I’m not quite sure about but something I’ve always wanted to do. I think I’m a natural coach and cheerleader and I’ve always loved fitness classes so… we shall see!
Volunteer at a greenhouse or community garden
Join a running club
Take a hip hop dance class all the yes’s! Look out for some IG stories!
Adult gymnastics Another one I’m not sure about. I haven’t been able to find any options in my area for this yet but will keep looking. I was a gymnast for about twelve years in my younger years and would love to challenge myself to overcome my fear of tumbling (literally and figuratively) again!
Rock babies at the hospital
Learn to sail I’m beyond pumped about this! Sailing is very big on Lake Superior and I’d love to do this with Kyle! Our last sailing adventure was on a hobie cat on our honeymoon which ended with both of us in the water and our personal belongings on the ocean floor. So yea.. It’s time to redeem that #sailingfail.
Start playing piano again
Sew my own clothes Yes and Yes! My grandmother was a seamstress and taught me when I was young so I’d like to pick it up again. I see some cute linen jumpsuits and velvet drapes in my future!
Take an art class. Our community college sends out a quarterly magazine with classes for the community! Last year I took a painting class and this year I have my eye on a pottery class.
Learn one winter sport ok ok, this is all about embracing Minnesota winters and as I’ve been told a survival must with 5+ months of snow around these parts. Downhill skiing is currently top of my list but we’ve recently just learned about skijoring (look it up y’all so crazy!) and our little Si pup, Sadie, would definitely love this one! (IG stories to follow!)
I wish I could end this post with some inspirational challenge or what I hope to get out of this year of curiosity. But maybe that’s just it … some things in life don’t have to be achieved, they should just be lived.
I don’t want this to become another checklist of to-dos. I don’t want it to feel rushed or like a chore. I can’t promise anything book-worthy is going to come out of it but I do hope to document and share the experience with you as I live it out.
In the end, I hope to practice embracing the ordinary time, instead of skipping through life from achievement to achievement. The most magical moments are often not in celebrating a big business success (although those are wonderful and sweet) but in quiet mornings spent waking up to a beautiful sunrise with a cup of coffee in hand. I want more of the latter, you know what I mean?
First up : Learn Italian! I registered for 3-months of Rosetta Stone. Here we go!
February : Pottery Class!!!
March : Winter sport?
Thanks for being here and reading these words. It means more than you’ll ever know!