Every now and then I hear people say, “Just do your best.” What does this even mean? How do we do our best, anyway?
Doing the best that we can means to be aware of our actions, to set a benchmark or goal, and to consistently aim to reach or exceed that goal. It also means knowing our limitations. This article goes into great detail about how we can do our best.
As we go about our days, we will be challenged in many ways. For some, getting out of bed is a challenge; for others, landing a promotion at work.
Whatever “best I can” means to you, we must find a way to operate at a greater level then we sometimes feel. It is too easy to fall into mediocre and miss our potential in life.
The little blonde girl
I woke up feeling sluggish. I immediately started feeling like I wasn’t doing that great in life. I started thinking about how this website should be doing greater by now, and how I should be at a higher level of success by now.
I quickly shrugged this off as I repeated some positive affirmations to myself. Shortly afterwards, I was up and dressed and ready to go to the gym. Although still feeling slightly overwhelmed by my shortcomings, I decided that a good run at the gym would do me some good.
I set a goal for my workout and went to it. Afterwards, I felt frustrated. I don’t know why exactly as I just ran further then I had in a long time. However, even though I reached a new level, I missed the benchmark I had set for myself.
As I was walking down the hall to the changeroom, there was a man walking, with his daughter trailing behind. She was bound in a full snowsuit, boots, and a toque. From the small amount of her I could see, she was about 4 years old with blonde hair.
As I walked beside her, exhausted, I heard the dad say, “Come on, keep up!” Then I heard the little blonde girl say, “I’m doing the best I can, Daddy; I only have little legs!”
After my heart was done melting, I started to realize how profound her little statement was.
Throughout the day I pondered on what she said and how this applies to me. I realized that there was a lesson that I could learn from her and I set out to do my best.
What it means to just do your best and how to get started today
In this article, I want to look at what it means to do our best and why this is important. I also want to shed some light on what is good enough and when we must push harder.
I have ten points to cover that should give a deeper meaning of how we can do our best.
- What does “Doing your best” mean?
- How to do your best?
- Why is it important to always do your best?
- What if I want to give up?
- How to stay motivated
- How to challenge yourself
- Should I compete with others?
- Should I compare myself to others?
- When do you know you are good at something?
- Encourage others to do their best
1. What does “Doing your best” mean?
To be the best at something means to be better than someone or something. It doesn’t matter if we are marginally better or better by far.
We can be our best at school, at work, in relationships, in hobbies, in skill, and in character. We often get confused about being the best and doing our best. There is a difference.
Someone once said, “There will always be someone better.”
Does this mean we shouldn’t try? Of course not. However, it does mean that despite our best effort, we might become the best at something only for a time, until someone pushes a little harder for a longer period then us. Then they surpass us.
2. How to do your best?
We must understand what our level is. In the story above about the little girl, she was doing her best. Was her best good enough to keep up with her dad? No. Was she at his level? No.
Had she been his height and capable of taking the same strides, then the pace that she was maintaining would’ve been insufficient. Had she been paired up with another small child bound up in the same winter gear, she would’ve been quite equal to compete.
When we set out for our day, we must do so with intention and purpose. If we wake up and say, “I hope all the best things happen to me today,” and then proceed to lay in bed for an hour before heading downstairs to watch tv for a few hours, we can’t truly expect the best to come about.
Doing our best requires discipline and determination. It requires fighting through the hard times while keeping our focus on our goal. It means keeping going when everyone else loses hope. We must push hard in effort consistently until we achieve what we set out to achieve.
It is important to understand the level we are currently at and strive to compete at that level. We must constantly be looking for ways to increase our level. If we try to go too far beyond our level, we will be met with defeat to some degree.
3. Why is it important to always do your best?
We are given free will to live our lives. We can work and have much, or we can do little and have little. There isn’t anyone who says that we must live to a certain level and force us to do so.
This means that when we do want to succeed or improve, we are on our own. We must find out what level we want to climb to, and then start climbing. We are wise to do this because in time, we can become resentful and bitter towards ourselves for not becoming more of ourselves.
If we allow this to happen, self-doubt and depression can sweep in and take over our lives. It is extremely difficult to do our best when we are low in esteem and optimism.
If we are in the habit of continually striving to be our best, we will find that reaching higher levels comes quicker and easier. We will get a good picture of what it means to utilize self-discipline to persevere, and where are limits are with this.
If we don’t even try, the smallest thing will seem difficult, and the first obstacle will prevent us from proceeding.
For most, it isn’t until they are in their senior years that they start reflecting on their lives. Many live with regret of not trying more, not becoming more, not doing their best.
I encourage all to not wait until your senior years. Set a goal for the day and strive to smash that goal. Do this each day and see where you are at the end of the year.
4. What if I want to give up?
Wanting to give up is a natural feeling. Anyone who is trying to do more than to simply exist will be met with resistance. Our natural state is to constantly become less. If we just wake up and sit on the sofa, what will happen?
In time, our muscles will deteriorate; our cardiovascular system will become weak; our vital organs will become weak; we might gain much weight; we will move slower; and we will be less motivated to do anything. If we maintain this, a hospital bed is the likely destination, and best-case scenario.
Of course, most of us won’t allow ourselves to get to this point. We will have some benchmark for our day. We are likely to have some tasks that we must accomplish. What I am getting at is when we do set out to accomplish anything, regardless of difficulty, we will want to give up at some point.
The point that we want to quit will be based on what level we are at and how much farther we are trying to push ourselves. If we have developed a good level of determination and perseverance through a habit of consistency, then our tolerance for enduring difficulty might be quite high.
Now consider how hard it was to get to this level; if we give up now, we are in a constant state of sliding backwards to mediocre. What happens is, our level starts reducing and we end up needing to start over; depending how long we quit for.
I have done this, many times in my life. Now when I have a bad day or am met with great difficulty, I do my best to not stay down for long. If I must have a “poor me” day, I don’t allow it to last long. This has allowed me to maintain my level much better, and I am farther ahead because of it.
5. How to stay motivated
I have found that studying people in the area we are trying to excel at gives us the best chance for achievement and growth. We can become inspired and motivated by them, by reading their stories, seeing the hardships they faced and conquered, and by realizing that the steps they took weren’t so much difficult as they were consistent.
Successful people who strive to do their best daily will all agree that success requires constant movement in a forward direction. The size of the step doesn’t matter so much. It’s the direction of the step; are you moving towards your goal or away?
I get motivated to try my best by analyzing my current circumstances. Because I understand that my current circumstances are a result of my daily habits and actions, I realize that if I want the change in my circumstances, it means I must be better than I have been.
Take a look around yourself; do you like your life? Do you like your work? Are you good at your job? How is your relationships? How are your finances? Where will you be in five years if you only continue to operate at your current level?
By answering these questions, and by realizing that it is ourselves who are responsible to make changes, we can become motivated to try harder each day to improve an area. Again, we don’t need to make huge changes each day; a small step each day will bring us a long way in one year.
Use these questions about your circumstance to fire you up. Listen to positive motivators on social media to help inspire when times get difficult. Don’t settle for mediocre.
6. How to challenge yourself
In striving to be our best, this means that as soon as we reach one goal, we must set a new goal and start pushing again. “Well, doesn’t this mean that I will just be pushing to be my best for the rest of my life?”
Yes. And, try to imagine what you could become if you do; imagine what you could accomplish if everyday from this point on, you strived to do your best.
For me, each time I go to the gym to run, I strive to be better than yesterday. When I am nearing the time or distance I ran yesterday, that’s when the pressure pours on; that’s when it gets tough, mentally.
Physically, I might be sore or tired the whole time; mentally, I can often press on through pain and fatigue. However, in the final moments when nearing my current level, that’s when it gets really hard. This is when my best is put to the test.
If I only get one extra minute of running, or another half-mile, I might fall down in exhaustion; however, I will spend the rest of my day knowing that I just upped my level and I can feel great about that.
We must stay in constant awareness of our current level in our goal. We must be willing to try to push past our level each day. This is how we grow, and this is how we can sit down and feel amazing about ourselves.
Is this level good enough to others? Who cares! It’s our life and our circumstances; it’s us who must live our life.
We must understand that we did our best and that we improved. We can soak in the glory for the day, and tomorrow, it’s back to pushing. We can sleep easy tonight knowing that we were met with success and reward for our efforts, and regardless of what anyone else thinks, we have just improved our circumstances.
7. Should I compete with others?
I think if someone is operating at our level or slightly better, we can compete with them. However, if failure to surpass them becomes an issue for self-esteem, then perhaps competing with others isn’t a good idea.
I prefer to have an idea of who the “Greats” are in my area of interest, and then compete against myself each day until I get to a level comparable to the greats. Will I get to their level exactly? I don’t know. But I know that by trying each day, I will be farther ahead tomorrow then I am right now.
If we can compete in a healthy manner, then yes, competing with others is a great way to improve our level of competence. When we compete only with ourselves, we don’t put as much on the line if we come up short.
If we compete with someone else, we are accountable to them to some degree, and might risk ridicule and teasing if we come up short. This often makes us try harder. There is just something about beating others at a game or in a competition of sort. We can see the level that they are working at and it’s easy to see what we need to do to be marginally better.
8. Should I compare myself to others?
Aside from setting a benchmark for what to aim for, we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others. We are all unique and we all have certain strengths and weaknesses. Some people will achieve our goals far sooner and easier then us. We might achieve their goals sooner and easier then them.
If we try to gauge our worth based on others, we risk feeling worth less. We might say, “Why is so and so at that level; I try hard too.”
We don’t know every detail about that person and what it cost them to get to the stage they are at. We don’t know what hardships they endured or what advantages they had.
Instead, we must compare ourselves to us. Where was I yesterday? Am I farther ahead today? What was my circumstance like last month? Is it better this month?
9. When do you know you are good at something?
We can often know that we are good at something based on compliments we get from others. If we are hearing people say in amazement, “How did you do that?” then we can be sure that we are at a high level.
We must be aware of our state and our level. We need to maintain good records of our goals and our progress for that goal. By knowing where we started, and where we are today, we can see the contrast between the two.
This is why personal reflection time is important. It’s a time for us to go over our recent progress. We can see if we are on track, falling behind, or ahead of schedule.
If we can see that we are consistently on track or ahead, it is important to accept this as good progress. We must understand that we are in fact, better than yesterday or last week, and that we are moving in a direction of constant improvement.
We can have confidence knowing this about ourselves. We can also lock in this feeling of being good at something by helping others. If others are asking for us to give them pointers and show them some of our methods, we can be sure that they see us as good and at a high level.
Feeling like we are good will come down to personal perspective and judgment. Sometimes we can be our worst critic. It is important to keep our standards high for ourselves, but it is vitally important to enjoy the win sometimes.
It is okay to accept compliments; it is okay to reward ourselves for our hard work; and it’s okay to say, “I am good at this!”
10. Encourage others to do their best
Not only should we strive to do our best, we should encourage others to do their best. Why? Because we all share this world. We can improve our society by helping others try harder and become more.
Hospitals are full of stressed out, worn down people. Food banks and shelters are bursting at their seams. Do these people want to be stuck in these situations? Of course not.
However, for whatever reason, they have allowed themselves to become overwhelmed to a point of such circumstances.
People need encouragement. Sometimes, not that much. Sometimes, we just feel a little down and a simple act of kindness is enough to create a spark that turns into a great fire of motivation and accomplishment.
If we see someone who isn’t operating at our level, instead of criticizing their progress, we can reach out a hand and encourage them to try. We can give them some ideas, share some resources, or offer to run a mile or two with them to get them started.
In this article, I have discussed what it means to do our best and how we can maintain and improve our level. The phrase, “Just do your best” receives criticism in that it might seem to describe a “good enough” scenario and attitude.
I argue that “Just do your best” means to not worry about what others say or think. I also argue that it means to “Do your best”; meaning, push past your limit and level constantly. Don’t grow complacent or lazy. Strive to be better than you were yesterday, and don’t stop pushing until you pass your goal.
I encourage you to set your standards to a point that challenges you greatly, and then strive to exceed that standard. This is what I believe “Just do your best” means.
If you have any pointers for others of which I didn’t cover, please share them in the comments as your contribution might help someone become their best versions of themselves.