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Always Do Your Best & Watch Your Best Get Better

Always Do Your Best & Watch Your Best Get Better

We have all heard, “Always do your best.”  Whether it came from our parents, a teacher or sports coach, doing our best has always been a cliche-motto echoed throughout our lives.  But what does doing your best really mean?  And is it even possible to always do your best?

Emphatically I say yes, yes it is.

For years I believed that I was failing at everything I tried to do in life. I found that I allowed small let downs to snowball, steering my self esteem into nonexistence. Eventually I fully believed that I was worthless and had no potential.

One realization that I learned from depression was that I always put so much stress on myself which led to an intense shadow of dissatisfaction following me wherever I went. I would always second guess myself and no matter how hard I tried, felt like I was never doing well enough.

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What does doing your best really mean?

Doing your best is synonymous with living out each and every moment to its fullest potential.  And this potential exists in every situation you encounter in your life.  All that is required of you is not to fight whatever life throws your way.

Doing your best is not about meeting expectations or achievements. It isn’t about success or failure (or whatever that label even implies). It is about putting all your energy into whatever life situation you are currently experiencing.

Rethink the definition of failure.

Every moment you think you failed was suppose to happen exactly as it happened and no other way.  If you feel like you didn’t succeed then I suggest rethinking your definition of success.  It is often those moments that we label as failures that teach us the most about ourselves.

When you start to take each moment that you label a failure as a building block towards success your perspective drastically changes. Realize that failure cannot exist without a thought behind it labeling it as failure.
This is a choice, even if its an unconscious one.

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Every opportunity you fail just breeds more room for growth. Instead of taking each setback as a sign of weakness, test your resiliency. Challenge yourself, and embrace every chance at bouncing back from an unwanted outcome as a fun, exciting new window to explore.

Instead of allowing failure to be a dark moment in your history, let it be a measure of progress. Learn from it and don’t allow it to fog your self-esteem going forward.

Thinking about doing your best cannot coexist with actually doing your best.

For instance, if you are a baseball player and you constantly are thinking about doing your best, it is going to distract your attention away from hitting a fastball moving at ninety miles an hour.  Similarly, if you’re a scientist or philosopher, then thinking about doing your best will interfere with thinking about the task you’re trying to solve at hand.

The point is, that you just have to live each and every moment with the intention of giving your all to the present, whatever that entails.  You can’t do your best if you are worried that you that you could be doing better.  Otherwise you are no different than a dog chasing its tail!

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Simple methods to transform your perspective

Take any opportunity in life as a new adventure. Even if it is something that you have done a thousand times, experience it to its fullest from an open-minded perspective. For example, take your time spent waiting in line as an opportunity to talk to a stranger or appreciate the environment you’re in rather than anxiously thinking about how miserable you are because everyone else is moving slowly.

Do things to do them, not get them done. There are a lot of situations in life that we dread. For example, if you have to clean something, the mind often immediately races to, “I can’t wait until this is done.” Instead of dreading something until its done, take it as an opportunity to fully invest yourself in. This might sound silly, but it is such a simple way to re-frame your mind that will make everything you do more enjoyable.

Turn intention into action. Intentions are great, but they only get you so far. Have you ever heard of the phrase “fake it ‘till you make it?” I believe that this phrase fundamentally means acting even if the motivation isn’t there. Just because you think you can’t do something doesn’t mean you can’t.

Your best will get better

Investing all your energy into the moment and away from thinking about how the moment could be better is a practice that will improve all areas of your life.

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If you always invest all your energy you have into conscious life and away from the unconscious mind then you will always be doing your best.  Don’t fear that you won’t do as well as you want or you will succumb to those fears.

By staying in the moment and becoming fully present your mind begins to fear the future and harp on the past less and less. You become less dependent on external validation. You spend less time setting expectations and more time actually doing the things that will lead you towards achieving your goals.

When you always do your best you will be amazed by the results. It is a program for living that progresses the more you work it.

Featured photo credit: Tucker Tyrrell via tuckertyrrell.com

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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