Many years ago I read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. In the book, Ruiz shares four agreements you must make with yourself to live a happy and fulfilled life. All four seem like simple common sense . . . Be impeccable with your word . . . . Don’t take anything personally . . . . . Don’t make assumptions . . . . Always do your best. Well, they may be simple but they definitely are NOT easy to implement on a moment to moment basis in your life.
Today I want to focus on Always Do Your Best. It seems straight forward, but what does it really mean? In my 20+ years of working with people, many people (especially the tightly wound overly helpful, super responsible, caretaking kind ) use it to push themselves to exhaustion. It’s a mental playground for shame, guilt and perfectionistic tendencies. Your best is 100% effort and 100% success . . . anything less is not good enough, right? WRONG!
Your best is going to change from circumstance to circumstance, day to day and even moment to moment. Your best is going to be dependent on so many different factors – your mood, how much sleep you have gotten, what you have (or have not eaten), your physical health, hormones, what substances or chemicals you have ingested, the weather, your energy levels, the story you have created about the situation, what’s going on with the people you love – just to name a few. Doing your best means that you show up in every situation and every interaction and do what you can with the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual resources you have in that moment.
Understanding that you are doing the best you can with the resources you have in that moment can be challenging. There will always be people who want, expect or need you to do more and are eager to tell you what you should have done. Ignore them. That’s their stuff and you aren’t responsible for their reality.
Here’s what YOU are responsible for so that you can always do your best:
1. Pay attention to how you are feeling. Take note of how you are feeling physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Are you tired, foggy headed, grumpy, anxious, hung over, getting sick, burned out, happy, energetic, focused, full of energy, peaceful? Check in with yourself multiple times during the day so you can start noticing patterns and cycles.
2. Take responsibility for your feelings. Once you begin to notice how you are feeling, learn what you need to do to change your negative feelings. Do you need more sleep? Would you feel better if you changed your diet or exercised more? Do you need a vacation or some alone time? Do you need to start setting boundaries and learn how to say “no” more often? Do you need to get your hormones checked? Are you spending too much time in your zone of incompetence?
3. Take inspired action. Action moves energy and shifts situations. You just have to make sure that you are taking inspired action that will move you forward, not keep you stuck and spinning. If you are stuck or exhausted, pressing harder on the gas only leads to spinning your wheels faster. Giving yourself a break and going for a walk, taking a nap or spending 10 minutes meditating may be exactly what you need to do shift the energy and free yourself to move forward.
If you are paralyzed by fear or indecision, then pushing yourself to take action to push though the fear and break the paralysis will shift your energy and help you move forward in a productive way. Look at what has you stuck, break it down into bite sized chunks and then pick one or two chunks to do. Once you are taking action, create a plan to keep the momentum moving forward.
So there you have it. You now know the secrets to always doing your best. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please share your comments.