Why you don’t always have to do your best

I feel like in life I’ve often felt pressure around “always doing your best”. You hear it all the time growing up, through school, work, life… “oh well, as long as you’ve done your best”. I appreciate the sentiment, but hearing this can be really hard for a lot of people and make them feel like they’ve failed no matter what it is they’ve done.

Most of the time, whatever I do, I feel like I can’t have done my best. Maybe I was too tired or not feeling it, maybe I could’ve worked faster, harder, smarter. I think it’s meant as a healthy mindset – “just do your best and you can be happy”, but for people like me who are self-critical and take things quite literally, it can be a demeaning question to ponder.

Have I ever done my best? I’m not sure. Even at times where I’ve tried to do my best I’ve always felt I could have milked out an extra few % and done some things better. Does that make me a failure? Of course not! But it’s a concept I struggled with and beat myself up about for a long time. Maybe some people can always do their best, but I don’t think I’m one of them.

A better question for me would be “did you at least try?” Or more importantly “did you enjoy yourself?”… “Taking away anything you think that others might expect of you, are YOU satisfied with what you’ve done?”

With this change in mentality you can be proud of yourself whether you’ve done your best or not. If you’ve failed at something you can brush it off and move on, you’ll learn from it.

The difference between success and failure is only where you set the bar. You might not be the most productive person on Earth or the greatest at what you do, but you don’t need to be!

It’s freeing when you realise you don’t always have to do your best.

Just do what you can, whatever you’re comfortable with, and give yourself a pat on the back for it.

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