Do Your Best – Not More Than That

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You’ve heard it a thousand times: “Do your best!”

Has anyone ever told you NOT to do more than your best?

Probably not, as it sounds counter-intuitive. And then, so many counter-intuitive things are the right things to do.

What is your best? And what does it mean not to do more than that?

Your best TODAY is not your best yesterday 

Every day is different and every day you feel different. That’s why you can always give your 100%, but the outcome isn’t always the same. When you’ve got a bad day you can still give your best, but you won’t be as productive, as creative, as whatever…. And that’s totally fine!

I’ve often compared my current performance to my best performance. Perfect recipe for disappointment. But it was just good enough, because I did my best this day.

If you give your best, be proud of yourself. The attitude counts, not the outcome.

Why shouldn’t you give more than that?

Strictly speaking it’s not possible, as your “best” is your 100%. However, we often cross this line and try to give more than we actually can.   

When you force yourself to overdo things, to give more than you’re capable of at this moment, the result won’t justify the mental and/or physical state you’ll be in. If you give more than your best, you’ll feel destroyed, burned out and the result of your work will be far from great.

If you try too hard to do more than your best, you’ll spend more energy than is needed and in the end your best won’t be enough. When you overdo, you go against yourself and it will take you longer to accomplish your goal.

So if possible, don’t overdo! Listen to yourself, to your body, and just give your best – that’s more than enough.

Do your best because you want to, not because you want the result

And finally, do your best because you want to. Because the action itself fulfils you. If you do it because of the reward or result, you can’t do your best – you won’t be motivated enough.

As Miguel Ruiz explains:

Doing your best, you are going to live your life intensely. You are going to be productive, you are going to be good to yourself, because you will be giving yourself to your family, to your community, to everything. But it is the action that is going to make you feel intensely happy. When you always do your best, you take action. Doing your best is taking the action because you love it, not because you’re expecting a reward. Most people do exactly the opposite: They only take action when they expect a reward, and they don’t enjoy the action. And that’s the reason why they don’t do their best.

On the other hand, if you take action just for the sake of doing it, without expecting a reward, you will find that you enjoy every action you do. Rewards will come, but you are not attached to the reward. You can even get more than you would have imagined for yourself without expecting a reward. If we like what we do, if we always do our best, then we are really enjoying life.

Coming to the end, here a short summary:

#1 Always do your best, but don’t do more than that. 
#2 Your best is your best of the given moment. Don’t compare to other moments. 
#3 Do your best because you want to, for the activity’s sake, not for the reward. The reward will come, in its own way, at its own time.