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.
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.
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!
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.
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