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Does it have to be “my best”?

Sunday, November 01, 2020

I’ve been putting pressure on myself and feeling guilty for not getting more done or making more progress. When I journaled about the feelings, I discovered there was both guilt and shame around not doing enough or doing a better job at the things I say I want to accomplish.

When I asked myself where those ideas or judgements came from, I realized I’m still being haunted by something I heard over 50 years ago! My father recounted a parent teacher conference in which he told the teacher that they (my parents) weren’t concerned about their children always getting top grades (though we pretty much did), that they “only” wanted us to do our best.

Now here’s the thing: I’m dynamite at process improvement (a selling point I stressed in all those job resumes and letters of interest), because I’m always looking for ways to make something better, more cost efficient, more accurate, easier to use. So no matter what I do, I can always think of ways I could have done it better. “My best” is an ideal I can’t reach.

I’m a big fan of that phrase “Progress, not perfection.” I don’t expect myself to be perfect. But this idea that my parents’ MINIMUM expectation was for me to do my best fills me with dread and hopelessness, because I just can’t do it; any effort could always be improved on.

So I have a job to do: to reprogram my brain and replace that belief that I should always do my best. I’m big on affirmations, so will try using them, including the classic “Progress, not perfection” as well as “good enough is good enough” (actually a phrase that got several hits when I Googled it, including a pop song Good Enough and an article on the origin of the phrase—links follow), “my good is good enough,” and “anything worth doing is worth doing okay.” (I’ve heard the counter phrase to “anything worth doing is worth doing well” of “anything worth doing is worth doing poorly” but I like my version better.)


I’m hoping I can let go of the weight of expectations and obligations, and get back to following my program and taking positive steps because I want to reach my goals & make progress for me, for my happiness, health and peace of mind, and not for anyone else.

Blessed Be, Amanda
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    GREAT blog! emoticon
    146 days ago
    I hear you! It's a daily struggle for me....

    The affirmation that helps me a bit is "Best is the enemy of good." We can destroy good but striving for absolute best.

    Let's do an okay job!

    163 days ago
    Being best is nearly always relative. For me..the expectations around "best" is most times is very high. in some things like work, I still lean towards having those high expectations.

    However, over the years in other areas of my life, I have really tried to embrace the "progress, not perfection"... it's not going to be perfect.. in fact sometimes it is just down right messy. You can only do what you can do with what you have at the time.. To expect anything more, can be very short sighted.
    I would also agree that you are doing better than you think. Strive for consistency.... You will get there. emoticon

    165 days ago
    Our "best" is a heavy burden and always leads to disappointment according to someone, even ourselves. You are always doing better than you think. emoticon

    166 days ago

    Maybe you get to define 'best'...
    so maybe

    I did my best with what I had to work with at that point in time..
    will help you loosen the weight of 'not enough'

    because.. time has a way of changing the resources for better or worse.

    167 days ago
    All that negative talk from our childhood lingers around and needs to be examined and replaced with words of healing and forgiveness.

    167 days ago
    I love this plan! My personal motto is you don't have to make the right choice every time, just most of the time! Much less pressure and much easier to forgive mistakes that way
    167 days ago
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