We are all trying to do our best. What does that really mean though? If we are not clear on what the definition of our “best” is, we are very likely to seriously reduce our ability to our best. If our perspective is not based on clarity and realistic expectations, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment in ourselves. We routinely label this as failure. That word has such a powerful connotation and carries with it a lot of emotional energy and power.
So, before we talk about getting clarity on what it means to be doing your best, I invite you, and strongly encourage you, to eliminate the word failure from your vocabulary. Toss it in the dumpster. Put it in the paper shredder. Flush it down the toilet. I’m guessing you feel me here. The reason I’m so passionate about this is that this nasty word can infect your mind like a nasty virus in your computer. It can cause so much damage, lasting damage. We already cause ourselves far too many self-inflicted wounds. Every step we make towards recognizing how this happens gets us closer to minimizing this seemingly inherent aspect of the human condition. It’s a very broad and complex topic.
I am working on material that I will make available soon that will go a long way toward understanding and minimizing this pervasive source of psychological and emotional suffering. In the mean time, let’s take this little step in the right direction. From now on I invite you to assess your efforts and intentions through the objective lens of results, not failure or success. There are only results, either desired or undesired. This makes it easier to review the things you thought, said, and did to generate these results. This in turn makes it easier to engage in course correction and create results that are more desirable for you.
Ok, back to doing your best. There are several traps we routinely fall into that set us up for disappointment and a diminished sense of confidence. Some of these are functions of the two thieves; the thief of the future, and the thief of the past. These guys seek to rob us of our greatest gift, the here and now, our “present”. The traps we are uncovering relative to the idea of doing our best are, like so many others, a product of our habit of engaging in comparison.
Let’s take them one at a time and identify the way to clarity.
The first trap is a thief of the past issue – comparing what we are doing now to the best we ever did. Your current circumstances may well make that goal highly unlikely, if not impossible. So, we operate with unrealistic expectations and feverishly work our way toward disappointment and reduced confidence. Bad plan.
The next is comparing yourself to others. Now I know we have been deeply socialized and programmed to do this. If you are willfully engaging in competition with others, that’s on you, just do it mindfully and decide if it’s worth it before you engage. Don’t allow it to become a mindless habit.
The third is someone else’s idea of what is the best that is possible. If you’re trying to set a new record then go for it, if you’re in a position to do so. Don’t pit yourself against some unattainably lofty ideal, especially someone else’s.
So, that leaves us with the only real, and healthy, definition of what your best is. Given your current circumstances and conditions, you have to ask what currently is a realistic expectation for your best. Learning to avoid these very common traps, and to consider doing your best given the variables of your current reality will save you a lot of disappointment, suffering, and potentially long lasting damage to your self esteem and sense of confidence. Every day is a new day.