We’ve all heard “do your best” since childhood. It’s a mantra our parents repeated to encourage us to be the very best version of ourselves. But for many, it has turned into a way to push ourselves to achieve the impossible while simultaneously beating ourselves up for not getting to where we think we should be.
Today, we’re going to talk about how we’ve been defining what it means to “do our best” wrong all these years and how we can reframe this to actually help us move the needle without guilt, shame, or overwhelm.
In this episode:
- The link between burnout and the unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves
- How to set real, achievable goals
- Why adjusting down isn’t failure and will actually lead to greater success in the long run
Listen to the episode here:
The Hard Truth of Doing Your Best
Happy New Year, y’all! When I first started this podcast I swore up and down that I was going to keep it as evergreen as possible because it can be weird to listen to an old December episode in April where they’re wishing you a Merry Christmas. But I’m breaking my rule and wishing you a Happy 2022. I genuinely hope it’s better than the whirlwind hellscape that the last two years have been.
Ok. Let’s talk about doing your best.
If you are a high achiever like me, then you probably set a very high baseline for what it means to do your best. You take yourself at peak performance and declare that to be the best that you can possibly do and then you measure every single day by that standard. Odds are, you’re going to find yourself coming up short more often than not.
That’s because doing your best isn’t about achieving optimal results every single fucking day. That’s exhausting and it’s why many of us are dealing with burnout in the workplace. Especially in the last couple of years. So can we all just agree that we want to stop pushing ourselves to exhaustion in 2022 simply because we’re setting unattainable goals as our baseline? Ok, good, great. Glad we agree.[bctt tweet=”That’s because doing your best isn’t about achieving optimal results every single fucking day.” via=”no”]
If you’ve been in business for any length of time, then you have probably heard something along the lines of setting good, better, and best goals for yourself.
Good goals are the minimum baseline. They’re the goals that will help you reach the minimum amount of success that you need to succeed. When I have helped my clients set these in the past or when I’m setting them for myself, they’re usually the goals that allow me to break even or make enough profit off a sale that will pay all the bills. For you, they might be the same amount of sales you did in the last launch. Minimum baseline.
A better goal is a step above that. It’s a dreamy goal that’s still pumping the breaks a little. It can sometimes be the harder one to figure out so if you have trouble with this one you have my permission to jump to your best goal and then come back to this one and meet somewhere in the middle of good and best.
Then there is your best goal. Your best goal aims for the stars, it’s that this would be an absolute DREAMY opportunity of epic proportions if I hit this number goal. Best goals are the ones you slap on your vision board. The ones you push yourself toward. They’re stretch goals.
They’re great for sales and launches. They’re not so great for setting a minimum baseline of what YOU can realistically accomplish on a daily basis without feeling burnt out or like you failed because you didn’t tick off every box on your to-do list. It would be like setting your best goal as your good goal every single day and pushing yourself from there.[bctt tweet=”It would be like setting your best goal as your good goal every single day and pushing yourself from there.” via=”no”]
Let’s just pull an example from my life, shall we?
At the beginning of 2020, with my sunshiney optimism and no idea what horrors were about to come barrelling towards me, I created this highly optimized schedule and plan that would allow me to operate at peak performance. I was going to ruthlessly time block my day to be more productive and efficient. I even bought an hourly planner from Target so I could highlight my blocks and stick to them better than a digital planner.
I knew that this system worked because I had used it digitally and liked it as long as I didn’t move things around. Hence the paper option so I could more strictly stick to a schedule. Then March 2020 happened. And suddenly my good goal needed to shift in order for me to survive. Quite literally. Peak performance while living through a prolonged trauma looked a lot different than peak performance when everything was operating normally.
Except I continued to hold myself to my pre-pandemic standards for the entire year and into early 2021. Do you know that that did for me? It made me feel absolutely worthless. Everything felt impossible and I felt like a constant failure. It ensured that I would never ever meet my goals because I was setting ones that I couldn’t attain in my new normal.[bctt tweet=”I was setting myself up for failure. And I failed.” via=”no”]
I was setting myself up for failure. And I failed. Over and over and over again and beat myself up for it each time. Other people seemed to be doing ok. My life hadn’t really changed that much so what was my problem? Why couldn’t I get out of bed more often? Why couldn’t I shower more than once a week? Why couldn’t I color in those damn boxes on that damn planner and stick to it so that I could operate at peak efficiency?!
What I didn’t realize is that I didn’t have to change to meet my old goal of peak efficiency…my peak efficiency goal had to change to meet me where I was. To adjust to my minimum baseline. Adjusting down felt like failure at first. For a while, if I’m being honest. But eventually, the more I met or exceeded my new, more attainable minimum baseline, the more confidence I had. The more confidence I had the more I was able to operate beyond my baseline.
It was like magic.
And when I say minimum baseline I mean MINIMUM. My current minimum baseline is getting out of bed, getting dressed, brushing my teeth, working for at least 5 hours, and eating at least one meal. If I do that then I have hit my baseline. Anything above and beyond that is cake and I try to celebrate it.
Showering is above and beyond that. Cleaning, changing the sheets, eating more meals, running an errand, working more than 5 hours. If any of that happens, I’m cruising towards better and into best territory.[bctt tweet=”But eventually, the more I met or exceeded my new, more attainable minimum baseline, the more confidence I had. The more confidence I had the more I was able to operate beyond my baseline. ” via=”no”]
Part of me wonders if I should be embarrassed to admit that to you but it’s my reality. It’s honest. It’s the reality that’s kept my head above water in the last year as I’ve battled some of the worst depressive episodes I’ve experienced in over a decade.
And I’d say that it’s working for me. This baseline has allowed me to write three books in one year and edit one of those books into a novel that will be published in February.
It’s allowed me to meet new people who have truly lifted me up and supported me even, or especially, in moments when I felt like I didn’t deserve it or couldn’t ask it of them.
It’s brought some incredible clients into my life and taught me many, many lessons about who I am, what it means to be productive, and how to seek out a quality of life that works for me wherever I am right now. And those lessons are invaluable.
And like I’ve said many times before on this podcast, if sharing my story and what works for me helps even one person, then it is more than worth it.
So if you are a high-achieving, type A perfectionist setting goals for yourself that you never reach or only reach every once in a while, then I hope you take this message to heart. Sit down with yourself and figure out what a very basic day looks like for you and set that as a minimum baseline.[bctt tweet=”Sit down with yourself and figure out what a very basic day looks like for you and set that as a minimum baseline.” via=”no”]
Remember, the idea here isn’t to settle. The idea is to identify the bare minimum. Identify the good so that you can build your confidence and the evidence your brain needs that you can meet your goals. The more you do that, the more you can push yourself. Because eventually you can and you will expand your minimum baseline.
But you have to create that evidence first. You have to give yourself the grace to say that “good enough” means you’ve done a good job. That your best is the minimum baseline. Because every day won’t be the most productive and amazing day ever and that’s ok.
Alright, that’s it for me today. Bye, y’all.