“Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse and regret.” – Don Miguel Ruiz
The recommendation to do your best comes up a lot in general conversation, especially from well-meaning friends and family members, but also from bosses and co-workers. There are countless posts on the topic, each purporting to have a better approach — or holding out the hope of a brilliant solution.
While you can gain a lot from reading various tips and techniques, when it comes right down to it, what you need to do is act. However, do keep these points in mind, for they will help you be less fearful of acting and more motivated to do so in the first place.
It isn’t forever.
The decisions you make now will likely be revised as you learn more, gain additional experience, progress in your field and form complementary alliances with others. Therefore, the long-term approach should be one that is fluid, adaptable, and scalable. This also pertains to your outlook. Knowing that you can change allows you to be more willing to take a certain amount of risk. You also gain self-confidence knowing that your decision doesn’t need to be permanent.
Your best is personal.
It is easy to become discouraged when someone else criticizes your efforts, especially when you know you’ve given it all you have. Keep in mind, however, that you are the one taking the action and doing the work. Someone who hasn’t been involved can’t know every aspect of the decisions you had to make. When you do your best, it’s personal. It always is. It can’t be any other way. So, you have nothing to regret, even if your best turned out with less than stellar results.
There’s no second-guessing.
When you know you’ve put in your best effort, there’s no second-guessing it. You made a conscientious decision and acted upon it. Having done that, you know that you did the best you could, given the facts you had. This gives you a sense of accomplishment, no matter what the result turns out to be. If, on the other hand, you turn in a halfhearted effort, you’ll likely wonder what would have happened if you’d paid full attention and given it your best.
Welcome the opportunity to learn.
Another side benefit of doing your best is that it paves the way for you to learn something new. In the process of working the job, pursuing the project and finishing the task, while you’re going at it full-speed ahead and giving it your utmost focus and attention, you encounter situations where you learn something you didn’t know before. You also have the opportunity to perfect or add new skills, increase your knowledge base, and come into contact with other individuals who can serve as resources, allies and even become friends.
Change your mind set about failure.
A corollary to welcoming the opportunity to learn is the wisdom to change how you regard failure. When you’ve put your best effort forward, and you fail to achieve your objective, instead of looking at it as a failure and beating yourself up about it, turn that negative line of thinking positive. For example, you study hard to pass a test, gain skills so you can advance to the next position at your workplace, go on an intensive exercise regime to tone and shape your body and at the end of your demanding work, you don’t achieve your goal. What possible good could come from thinking of this as a failure?
Instead, consider that maybe a slightly different approach would work better. Perhaps you set too lofty a goal and should consider scaling it back a bit. You might realize that what you thought you wanted wasn’t what you intended. This is an appropriate time to look at other goals. The key point is that when you do your best, you’ve got nothing to feel bad about.
Keep an eye on the goal.
With the mindset that you’ll always do your best, you can find it reassuring to stay focused on the goal. Instead of being distracted by unnecessary interruptions, you keep a sharp eye to the result you’re working toward. Not only will you be more likely to be successful in the endeavor, you’re also more likely to be satisfied with your efforts.