My best isn’t good enough

My Best Isn't Good Enoughv“We’re all just doing our best.”

Honestly? If I hear that phrase one more time I will scream even louder than I screamed the last time I heard that phrase. I simply detest it.

“Best” is quite possibly the blandest word in the world. What does “best” actually mean? Well, though the dictionary defines it as “of the most excellent or desirable type or quality” and “to the highest degree”, in reality, “best” doesn’t actually seem to mean that at all. In reality, best seems to mean that whatever I ended up doing at the time was good enough and not to be judged because I’m busy and modern life is demanding, so there.

I think we get defensive about criticism because we know we hardly ever give our very best. When we’ve given our all and done a stellar job, criticism is still hard to take, but welcome. We stand by what we’ve achieved because we know we did everything we could to get that outcome. On the other hand, when we don’t give our best, criticism is unbearable because it opens the gate to the biggest critic of all: our conscience.

Unless, of course, we’re not doing our best on purpose.

Fact is, I rarely do my best, give my best or try to achieve my best. Life is tiring and my best is bloody hard work. My best requires optimal me – primed, passionate, creative, kind, savvy, strong and patient (so very, very patient). My best is good for a couple of hours tops a day and the rest of the time I’m mostly in sub-prime operation mode. I glide through, doing what I can to get by and make life as good as possible, but deep down I know. I know that unless I focus all my energy and muster up the enthusiasm to be “best”, the reality is that at any given time in my life I’m doing a reasonable, but not especially merit-worthy, job of things.

So, as you can see, going around saying that I’m “doing my best” isn’t good enough – because there is rarely anything best about my “best”. I’ll admit it – we should all admit it, because when you’re honest about it, you’re open to criticism. See, I’m not so invested in the way I do things, or their outcomes, because I know I’ve got more to give. When I fuck something up, I take responsibility for it. I say to myself, “you dropped the ball on that one, Sub-Prime Bronny. Might be a good idea to bring Best Bronny out to clean up the mess.” Then I’ll focus, challenge myself and do my actual best so things can get things back on track, ready for sub-prime operation mode to kick in once more.

This is why, when anyone uses “she’s just doing her best” as an excuse for poor behaviour, complacency or general shittiness, I get really cross. I think, “you know what, she’s probably not.” I mean, if she’s anything like me, she’s not really doing her best at all. So I start to get really cranky as to why I’m expected to cheer on complacency and I’m going to get super cranky when I’m not allowed to even question it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy in sub-prime mode a lot of the time, but I also want to challenge myself to do my best more often. The only way I can do that is to be honest with myself about what “best” is and what the cost is for wanting to achieve it. It does me no good to pretend that the “good enough” approach is optimal. It simply isn’t. I’m not aiming for perfection here, either. I’m simply aiming to have a growth mindset, to question my motives with honesty, challenge my actions and to seek wise answers.

Here’s how I make the most of  sub-prime me:

1. Accept that I’m not perfect. I won’t pretend that I have all the answers and try to always admit when I’m wrong. I don’t strive for perfect, I just strive for connection and truth. I’m constantly seeking to improve the way I do things, not to be perfect, but rather to celebrate the everyday.

2. Know what I’m trying to achieve. I figure if I can get my life values lined up right, the rest is just the ups and downs of day to day living. What values are important to me and what supports those values? Then I try to make most of the things I do contribute to giving voice to my values in some way, shape or form. For example, I want my kids to live a creative life, so most of my parenting choices will nurture creativity.

2. Be content with contentment. I’m not pitching for a ‘successful’ life (by society’s standards, not mine), just a true one. I’ve got a sub-prime attitude because, most of the time, giving my best requires more of me than I’m willing to give. I’m happy in my comfort zone – I’m just making sure that my comfort zone is GIANT.

How do you feel about ‘best’?

Image: Pexels

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  1. says

    It’s a bland yet powerful word in its own way! So, here’s my take .. since needing to really find out more for me about me I’ve listened to a lot of people such as Brene Brown speak and this is what she says..
    about doing your best

    She really had to pay attention to her judgement of others (she being of the mind that everyone just needs to pull their weight & do their best!) when she realised she was wrong. And to admit that was hard!

    She listened to someone who was serving her in a. Abn who said “I think most people are just doing the best they can” and when she thought long and hard Botr that.. she agreed

    What is this “best”? I think doing the best you can

    • says

      But this is my point: I’m well aware that I’m actually not doing the best I can. To suggest otherwise would be to accept complacency.

      • says

        Are you being extra hard on yourself ? Sorry.. my point was in my “possibly inept way” that there are variations within us all each & every day & with that we are doing the best we can.. then.. on that day.. occasion.. take care D x

  2. says

    I think giving your best implies giving 100%, which is impossible all of the time. I think when people refer to ‘best’, in relation to parenting they really mean – getting by. I’m getting by most of the time, and to some things I am able to give my best. And I’m happy with that.

    • says

      Yep, that’s the thing. But when we call it our best, I think we are excusing ourselves in a way that I don’t think it ultimately helpful or healthy.

  3. says

    As always you get me challenging. So thought, when we hear that term, perhaps we could ask the speaker to define the definition of best 😉

    • Maxabella says

      Yes, I think sometimes I get lost in semantics BUT I also understand how powerful the words are that we tell ourselves. I’ve heard “I’m just doing my best” too often lately. There is a guilt and excuse attached to it that really rankles me. I’d rather we all just accepted that we DO NOT have to do our best at all times. Sometimes we’re just coasting, and that’s okay.

  4. Rachel says

    I very much get what you are saying, I haven’t given it much thought before, but I think you have a great point in asking “why lie to yourself and accept complacency as your best effort?”
    Definitely interesting food for thought as our thoughts are so important in defining our attitudes and beliefs. I can do much better, I don’t always choose to, and that’s fine too, but knowing I can has a certain power.

  5. Allina says

    Hmmmmm… I like the food for thought.

    I am currently grappling with my “bests” being exclusionary – my work best takes away from my mothering best, which in turn takes away from my fitness (& sleep) best! There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day and it’s frustrating when one (or all) of them slip.and to truly be my best in one sphere would be to the absolute detriment of the others. And this isn’t beyond day to day living and working a bit – no huge goals here.

    Accepting the limits of my capacity (separately in all the facets of my life and collectively) is tough, it’s really doing my head in at the moment.

    As I said, good for thought.

  6. says

    For me, “I’m doing my best” means:- “I’m trying really hard to get my shit together, to keep the house clean & tidy, to balance my time spent with the kids and on myself, and to take in all the negative crap that is coming my way and deal with it. I may have days when I am kicking goals, but today I am doing my best to get out of bed, have a shower, brush my hair and drink my coffee (hot) before lunchtime!” 😉

    How often do we say to our kids “Don’t worry if you don’t win, just do your best!” – do we expect them to get 100% or straight A’s in their report cards. I know I just want my girls to work & try hard, and enjoy what they are doing. If they get top marks, or ranked the best, well that’s great. Have a great Christmas Bron xxoo

  7. says

    Ya know, the first line of the Girl Guide Promise is, “I Promise, I will do my best…”
    When I explain that to girls, I tell them it’s not possible to “be your best” all the time but it is possible to do your best because it means you won’t settle for your worst. You may just be thinking about it the wrong way around. If you’re not settling for your worst, your somewhere on the scale of striving for what could be your best. We all know when we’ve done a shite job, and if that’s not for you, you’re promising to do your best.

    Now, if you want my spiel on what a ‘promise’ is, you’ll have to bloody well join up. 😉

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