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Did I Do My Best?

Last month, I wasn’t feeling like I was having a very productive day at work. I was having trouble focusing and felt like I kept running in circles on different projects. By the end of the day, I groggily closed my laptop and told myself that tomorrow was a new day.

The next morning I would test positive for Covid. Again. Oh, I thought, that checks out.

A few days after that, I read something online about “always doing your best” and “at the end of the day being able to ask yourself if you did your best” and I thought back to that sloppy Tuesday. I definitely wasn’t doing my best that day.

I immediately jotted the phrase onto my white board. I’m going to write a post about how it’s not realistic to do your best every day and how that’s outdated advice and how sometimes your brain is just a little foggy from Covid but you do the best you can in the circumstances and—

And oh. Curveball.

“My Best” isn’t a standard measure.

Some days, my best looks like a 5 mile run and a healthy breakfast before a super-focused day at work. It looks like throwing laundry in on my lunch break and catching up with loved ones in the evening and unwinding with a good book in my clean sheets at a reasonable hour that night.

And sometimes my best looks like snoozing the alarm a few times because I stayed up later than I’m used to. It looks like desperately diving for the toothpaste because I fell asleep before I could brush my teeth the night prior. It’s sitting at my desk with unbrushed hair and dirty eyeglasses. It looks like “close enough” and “eh, that works” and sometimes my best flirts with the bare minimum.

But I wouldn’t call one of those days “My Best” and one “My Worst.” I’d say they’re a reflection of the (lowercase) best I could do on the given day in the specific set of circumstances.

Typically, I like holding myself to a high standard—in the way I perform my job or volunteer responsibilities, the way I treat my friends and family, and the general way I move through the world. But the idea of holding myself to the impossibly high standard of perfect performance every single day sounds exhausting.

I want days where I seamlessly juggle multiple activities and blend the fun with the obligatory. And I want days that I leave completely open to imagination—lounging on the couch with a good book until noon. Ordering takeout on a whim. Leaving emails unanswered.

And perhaps it’s this combination of dueling days that makes “the best” days possible.

If I think back to that recent workday where I felt flustered and foggy and distractible, I don’t see it as “not doing my best work.” I see it as “wow, you sure got a lot done for someone who didn’t realize they had Covid and probably shouldn’t have been working anyway! Now let’s go eat some soup and get some sleep.”

“Your Best” is going to look different every day. And that’s alright. You are allowed to be proud of yourself every day. You are allowed to celebrate wins that don’t feel “Instagrammable” or profound. You are allowed to take joy in your Best, no matter what that looks like. And you’re allowed to tailor your life so that every day begins to feel a little like the best.


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