by Jake Thompson

How to Do Your Best

How often have you heard the phrase prior to a competition or in r...
How to Do Your Best

How often have you heard the phrase prior to a competition or in regards to a work assignment to "just do your best?"

It's almost society's default "good luck" for any athlete prior to a match. We believe that by reminding someone to do their best, that they'll suddenly flip a switch and leave it all out there on the field. Our words influence their final efforts, and without them, they may forget and hold something back.

In her book Succeed, Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson dives into why many people fail to reach their goals - and most importantly, what her research has shown that can help you avoid the fate of "many people" by actually accomplishing what you set out to.

Dr. Halvorson attacks the idea of telling others to "just do their best" by providing examples of how "do you know where you are going" better positions the recipient to ultimately succeed. Telling others to "just do their best" is the equivalent of setting a goal to "just lose weight."

"Just Lose Weight"

How much weight? How quickly should we lose it? Does it have to be healthy/unhealthy means?

"Just lose weight" is a vague statement that fails to motivate us toward action. Now compare that with "I want to lose 10lbs by January 31 by eating healthier options 90% of mymeals and working out 4x each week."

I've set a specific goal, with a deadline, and laid out how I will be able to note if I accomplished it or not.

Versus, "just doing my best this month." How do I know? Does it mean I'm mentally exhausted from running 100mph? Or is it impacted by physical outputs such as a PR on my bench press or a promotion at my job?

Do you see the difference?

You'll see a vast majority of people set "New Year's resolutions" that are vague - and those same people will fall off of their "goals" before the end of January.

This is why Competitors do it differently.

To be a Competitor, you have to set a specific goal. A specific goal includes a) a specific outcome, b) a deadline for said outcome, and c) action steps that will help you achieve that goal.

Doing your best as a Competitor means setting that specific goal - then using all of your energy and resources to achieve that goal following the detailed steps you've written that are necessary to getting "there." It's about reviewing what's been done, seeing how you can improve on the past, and improving upon your actions, words, or strategy.

So how do you "do your best" in reality?

1. Focus on Getting Better

Maintain focus on getting better - not on being perfect or "good." Keep a journal (I like my Best Self journal!) so you can keep record of how each day went - both the good and the bad. Every morning I review the previous day and ask myself these key questions:

  • What went right that I can build upon?
  • Where did I drop the ball so I can avoid that again today?
  • What's my end goal? I see it every morning so it keeps me focused on goal I'm striving for. Which leads me too..

2. Commit to the End Chapter

Any goal worth pursuing isn't one that can be accomplished overnight. Understand the entire pursuit is a marathon - some portions you will sprint, some you will slow down to a jog, and some, well, you may have to stop for a bathroom break. It happens - and is all part of the long race. If you're only focused on the immediate, you'll quickly lose focus when it doesn't happen "overnight."

The same applies if you lose sight of the ultimate goal when trouble strikes. If you are able to see the end goal and take any lumps in stride, you'll maintain a healthier perspective in midst of the storm - which will allow you the ability to keep working toward that goal despite negative circumstances swirling around.

3. Focus on Your Own Lane

A sprinter cannot run at their peak speed if they're constantly looking to the left and right for their competition. It's only by pressing onward that you're able to run at your full ability. The same approach works in life. The more time we spend comparing our race to others, the less energy and time we'll have for our own pursuits. We've instead wasted it on people and races out of our control. 

What about the "off days?"

Realize "off days" happen to all of us. But as a Competitor, you've chosen to rebound from an "off day" before allowing it the opportunity to turn into an "off week"..."off month"...and soon enough, you'll be using the excuse of an "off year" as to why you haven't reached those goals.

Competitors are stronger than their excuses. Choose to be a Competitor today.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.