Her Evolution: Allison's New Found Joy
Allison, 48, Mahwah, NJ - The Journey of a Recovering Type A Perfectionist
by Abby Stern · Sat 18 Jun 2022
Allison is no stranger to pressure. Throughout her life, she has worked vigorously to achieve her goals and succeed independently. And yet, as she’s engaged in self-growth, she’s set a new goal for herself: reducing some of this pressure to achieve. Fortunately, through working with Rise Gatherings, Allison learned to do just that, alleviating the burdens she places upon herself and engaging in radical self-love.
A New Jersey native, Allison was born with clubfoot, a medical condition characterized by the ankles of both feet turned inward. As a child, Allison underwent extensive reconstructive surgery and subsequently needed to wear casts for the first few years of her life. After this painful experience so early in her life, Allison has always hated pity, and in turn, she applied pressure on herself to succeed on her own.
“I hate when people feel sorry for me, and I hate when people feel like they need to help me do something to achieve something,” Allison said. “I feel like that has made me much more goal oriented, almost to a fault.”
This pressure carried Allison through high school as she aimed to be independent and resilient. The need to take care of herself and prove herself capable compounded when she had to switch schools for the last six weeks of her senior year. Allison’s family moved to a nearby town, but she wanted to finish her senior year in her original school. When the school system found out she was living outside the district, they kicked her out of school, forcing her to transfer.
“I think that was a major influence on me, just in terms of being resilient, meeting people, having to just figure it all out,” Allison said.
For the last month and a half of her senior year, Allison knew no one at her new school so she was forced to figure out how to succeed in this very stressful situation for a teenager. She did so by developing her communication skills and learning to build bonds quickly.
“I would say that one of my strengths is interpersonal skills. So being able to build a rapport very quickly and being dumped into a place and not knowing anyone usually doesn't bother me,” Allison said. “I’ll figure it out, I'll find someone that has a common interest. So it served me well, even though at the time, you know, it's very traumatic.”
This high school experience led Allison to notice and value her ability to connect with others, and she subsequently chose to study Communications in college. She started at one college, however, admittedly after too much partying, her parents gave her an ultimatum: join the military or transfer colleges. Allison chose to transfer to Rutgers University, and once again had to face the dreaded task of finding new friends and succeeding in a new place.
After graduating college, Allison entered a career in the corporate communications industry, specifically structuring internal communications for major companies. Simultaneously, Allison began participating in “figure competitions,” which, as she describes them, are “bodybuilding meets beauty pageant.” Allison struggled with her body image and placed pressure on herself to lose weight. She entered her first competition in 2012 and was immediately hooked.
Allison's Fitness Competition Photos
As she became more lean and muscular, she found that people would ask about her diet and workout regimen. So in 2016, she started working as a health coach to help people better understand their nutrition and exercise. This coaching work developed into Allison Jackson Fitness, a business where Allison helps women prioritize their health and well-being. She not only coaches but also gives public speaking engagements at retreats, corporations, and organizations.
Though Allison was meeting so many of her personal and professional goals, she began to question her inner need to constantly seek and fulfill new ambitions. During the pandemic, she paused to look inward and evaluate. Constant goal realization started to feel like a never ending hamster wheel, something she was doing just because that’s what she always had done.
“I felt like I was on autopilot a lot,” Allison said.
She knew she needed a break, so in 2021, Allison decided to attend the Weekend Getaway, hoping to gain a new perspective. From the minute she arrived, she felt a sense of belonging.
“Tami and Rachel are so welcoming. It just made you feel that you belong there. Everybody did,” Allison said. “There are no mean girls. Everyone is there for the same reason. Everyone just wants to help and talk and learn and understand.”
Through her Rise journey, Allison has come to understand the pressure she puts on herself to constantly achieve and be better.
“I think it's a combination of family of culture, society, work,” Allison said. “Within social media, like the social pressures, everything kind of plays a role in what you set out to do for yourself. It's really being able to pause and say, is that what I really want? Or is that me trying to appease someone else?”
Now, Allison tries to appease only herself. Rise helped her understand that setting goals just for the sake of it is unhelpful, and instead she tries to set goals based on what brings her joy.
“What they're all about is really just stepping back and making sure that what you're doing brings you true joy, is authentic, and all those things,” Allison said. “That's been huge, and that's something I've been able to carry with me. And, again, I think it's why I always keep coming back to Rise, to keep working on that, because that work is never done.”
Allison trying a Drum Circle class at the 2021 Weekend Getaway
At the Weekend Getaway, Allison pushed herself to engage in activities she never would have tried before. For example, at the beginning of the weekend she knew she wanted to try stand-up paddle boarding, yet when the time came, she remained seated. It took a push from Tami to show Allison that it’s wonderful to do activities simply for enjoyment rather than to achieve a goal.
“It's just getting you out of your comfort zone too. It's not all about what you want or what you think you want. It's like, just go do and be,” Allison said. “I said to her, ‘Thank you for doing that, for just giving me a big shove. Because…I had the best time. That was probably the highlight of this, doing paddleboard yoga, and it was just so much fun.”
Allison’s Rise experiences also influenced her to change her approach when working with clients of Allison Jackson Fitness. Championing physical health is not enough. True well-being can’t be achieved without mental and spiritual health.
“I was always so focused on nutrition and working out,” Allison said. “The mindset and the self-care and the compassion, that stuff is so important. That's like the first pillar, and then nutrition and diet.”
Now, Allison emphasizes how people treat themselves, talk to themselves, and encourage themselves. Rise helped give Allison the part of her platform that had been missing, and now Allison has worked to make her company even better.
“I just feel like…everything is kind of meant to be and happens for a reason,” Allison said. “Now it's so much more fulfilling, helping people to really kind of understand themselves better and be more self aware and prioritizing their health.”
Allison forgets what life was like before Rise. In the past, Allison experienced gimmicks and sales tactics from other women-centered programs, but with Rise, she feels the power of authenticity within a truly values-based community.
“I'm always looking for what they're putting out next because they are so in tune with women and women's concerns and empowerment and community and all those things,” Allison said. “They always have our best interests in mind.”
Reflecting back, Allison appreciates what she has learned about herself, including the importance of meditation, mindfulness, and the power of joy. She sees herself as a “recovering Type A perfectionist,” working toward becoming more conscious of her own peace of mind. Allison emphasizes her own authenticity rather than trying to achieve goals in order to prove something to others.
“Attending something like Rise just amplifies your strengths,” Allison said. “But then [it] also helps you figure out how best to improve your weaknesses.”