Sometimes when I feel unsure what to do I like to set goals for myself. I find this is especially helpful when I'm having trouble getting out of bed. There are times when I feel unmotivated to get up, I don't know what the point is and I don't know what I will do when I do get up-- that's when the goals help.
But sometimes I forget that the goals are just tools. They are little steps and structures to help me get up and remind me of the things I've considered important at one time or another. They are sign-posts that I leave to myself, so that on bad days I can say, "Oh yeah. That's where I was heading. That's what I've been working towards."
When I forget that the goals are just tools to help me on my path I have to stop making them for a little while. This is because I sometimes forget that I'm the one who set them and I'm the one who can change them. I start to see them as laws instead of reminders and I get stuck following an endless spirals of "laws" around and around without realizing where I'm going or why. At those times I find that it is best for me to stop putting the sign posts up so I can stop and THINK about where I'm going and be sure that it is actually where I WANT to go, and not just a place I'm walking to while on autopilot.
When I first stop putting up structures I get kind of nervous. That's how I'm feeling today. I didn't make a list of things to work on this week and now I'm nervous because my structure is gone. I don't have a sign post or a measuring stick, so how do I know if I'm doing enough?
Then I remember a book I read earlier in the year. It was a good book, and I passed it on already so I can't dig back and quote it exactly but there was one part of it that talked about just doing your best, no more, no less every day.
When I get scared that maybe I'm not doing enough or that I'm doing something wrong I go back to that idea. I realize that, it is that idea that is actually the overarching goal. The little goals are sign posts to help me make sure that I am doing my best every day. When I take away the sign posts and start to get scared I can still use the larger goal as a measuring stick and ask myself: "Am I doing my best right now, with what I have today? "
In order to answer this question I need to be honest with myself and I need to be sure that I understand that my current best is not the same as my all time best. My current best is what I can do today with how I'm feeling, the amount of things I have on my mind or schedule, the amount or resources I have at my disposal, the constraints, the unexpected things, etc. (This is also an idea I got from the book). I also have to remember that my best is not my best at any one thing but my best and being the most authentic, balanced version of myself as I can be.
When I start to get scared that I haven't done enough I stop and ask myself, "Am I doing my best to be my best with what I have right now?"
If the answer is "yes" then I tell myself that there is no reason to hold on to this sense of guilt and shame, if I'm doing my best then there is nothing to feel bad about. If I make a mistake I'll do my best to fix it, there's no reason to be afraid of it. If I'm struggling with something then I know that if I keep just trying to do my best I'll improve with time. There's no reason to feel ashamed. If I can't finish everything I want to finish or be as thorough as I'd like, or if I miss out on an opportunity, it's okay there will be other times and chances I'll look at my priorities and see if they need to be rearranged. I don't need to feel guilty about this.
If the honest answer is "no", then I ask myself "What do I need to do to do my best? Or what's stopping me from doing my best?"
Sometimes I'm scared. Sometimes I'm angry or I'm aimless. But knowing what it is that is stopping me lets me take the time I need to address it. Then I can work through the thought or feeling or belief that is holding me back and try to move forward again.
I know that I can't always control everything and that things won't always turn out the way that I want. I sometimes (often) wish I could do so much more, but if I set the goal in the morning to just do my best and and then ask myself throughout the day if that's what I am doing I feel better. I know that even if everything in the world goes wrong I can get to the end of the day with my head up because I know I've done all that I could to be the best me I can. When I do that I am proud of myself and then it doesn't matter how anyone else sees me or how much I've accomplished or which chores got left undone. It matters that I've succeeded in being the kind of person I'm capable of being.
I've done my best. I've seen where I can improve, I've committed myself to working diligently towards those improvements to the best of my ability. There is nothing to be ashamed of. There is nothing to feel bad about. All I can do is my best, so I will do that every day and then I will be my best. That's the goal I've set for myself above all other goals. To just do my best to be my best one day at a time.
Thank you for reading,
P.S. The book I was talking about is The 4 Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Here is a link to it for anyone interested in reading it.