Until last year, I have never been one of those people who came up with a word for the year. I’ve always thought it was a cool idea, but I simply was never able to think of one word that described my focus for the coming 12 months.
Last year, as 2016 was coming to a close, my word for 2017 just made itself obvious to me. I knew that “intentional” needed to be my word for the year. You can read a little bit about how that word impacted me here, but it really deserves a separate blog post (which honestly, I will probably never write).
Anyway, as 2017 was ending, once again, my focus for 2018 materialized unexpectedly.
I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Typology, which is by the author of a book I have recommended several times, called “The Road Back to You.” I have really loved this book, which explains the personality profile system called, the Enneagram.
Each week, the author, Ian Cron, interviews people who are different types on the Enneagram. I love listening to stories of how people have learned to maximize the strengths and weaknesses of their personality type and grow in their faith through the process.
On this particular episode, he was interviewing a woman who is a 1 on the Enneagram, which is the perfectionist. I was especially interested because I also am a 1.
As I was listening to the interview, I kept thinking, “This woman reminds me so much of myself.” About halfway through the interview, the conversation started to change. The interviewer began probing her on questions at a deeper level. I was answering the same questions in my head.
By the end, he suggested to her that maybe she isn’t a 1 at all. Maybe she actually is a 3, which is “the achiever.”
I’ve always questioned whether I’m actually a 1, because some aspects of this personality type really don’t describe me very well. But as I’ve analyzed other types, I’ve always passed over the 3. I knew for a fact there was no way this was me. In fact, as much as I didn’t want to be a 1, “at least I wasn’t a 3,” I would sometimes think!
But now, as he described the 3, an uneasiness started growing in my stomach. (And I knew I had NOT eaten any gluten!) Just the name of this personality type seemed to describe me so perfectly. Achiever.
If you lined up 10 people closest to me and asked them to choose one word to describe me, I’m guessing at a few of them would choose this word.
I haven’t taken the test again to confirm or dispel that I am a 3. But just thinking about it really started to bother me.
I really do get so much of my value in life from what I “do.” I love to achieve. I’m driven to perform. Most people know me best by what I DO, rather than who I AM.
In fact, I wrote a whole blog post about this realization last summer when I took that sabbatical and visited the lighthouses.
After a few weeks of processing this, it became clear to me that I really don’t want to let another year go by, letting my life be defined by what I DO, rather than who I AM. The word I chose for 2018 was “be.” But that seemed short and hard to understand so I eventually came up with a phrase: “Less doing, more being.”
The problem was, I didn’t even know what that meant. How do I DO less? How do I BE more?
I realized that the most important part of “Less Doing and More Being” doesn’t mean I have to stop doing all of the things that bring me joy. It is really about the motivation and attitude that come with my need to constantly achieve. I’ve found that doing things is how I gain acceptance and value. The problem comes when I start to place so much weight on DOing and become so focused on my goals that I Iose sight of building authentic, transparent relationships.
But how do you even track your progress when you are actually trying to do LESS? Where does one even begin?
Thankfully, God started to give me some clues. One of the first was a friend from my past came into my life and reminded me about a book she had recommended six months ago called, “Sensible Shoes.” She had told me that my story about my sabbatical reminded her of one of the characters in the book. I’ve already started reading the book, and some of my friends agreed to read it with me and have a book discussion. Discussing a book with a group of friends sounded like a great first step to build relationships based on BEing, rather than DOing.
After that, several other people reached out to me in completely random and unexpected ways with opportunities to BE together.
So, I guess this journey won’t be one that I get to plan. It won’t involve a goal sheet or a habit tracker. I think it’s going to be more of an adventure of being open to opportunities to BE more often and DO less often. I’m going to be paying attention to my heart and motivations when I start to DO too much. Am I trying to find value and happiness by DOing? And how to I replace that with BEing?
I have no idea, but I’m looking forward to seeing what God has planned for me this year.