Present Over Perfect is a book by Shauna Niequist that follows her journey from a life of frantic hustle to the calmer, slower state of being present.

Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with or endorsed by the publisher or author, and am receiving no compensation for writing this article.

Present Over Perfect

Shauna found herself saying, “yes” to lots of great opportunities that didn’t align with the life she wanted. Constantly taking on other people’s version of success left her saying “no” in areas that were important to her. This led her to changes that realigned her life with the things that matter to her, and rediscovering the person she wanted to be.

It was hard for her to embrace stillness, silence, and calm. Her transition was slow, and a process. She eventually learned to carry the stillness inside her.

Admiration vs Love

The short, 6 minute, chapter called “It’s All Right Here” really resonated with me. Shauna discussed how it is far easier to create quick emotional connections than consistently show up with deeper enduring love. It’s easy to get carried away with the praise and success of work life. To spend all your emotion and the best parts of yourself, and return to your family depleted, with nothing left to give. This creates space where there could be closeness.


Like a lot of self-help books, Present Over Perfect has a section on simplifying. This section reminded me of the ideas from Essentialism. She starts by talking about leaving behind other people’s expectations and focusing more on deep connections. There is a chapter on “play.” Decluttering unused or unloved physical possessions is a form of simplicity. 

Seasons and Changes

Life is full of seasons. We are constantly growing and reevaluating what fits for the current season. Fear and anxiety normally drive the author to finish books. This time, she had a harder time finishing because of the peace she learned through this process. Love now drives her writing. She shares the “love” story that changed her life.

Present Over Perfect

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Focusing on being more present is an area I could improve on. I find it hard not to stress about the future or beat myself up about the past. Living in the moment and taking on a calmer, simpler life seems like a direction I’d like to pursue. I recommend checking out a copy of this book for yourself.

Looking for another great self-help book? Check out Dare to Lead.

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