It’s pretty normal to try to do your best at all times – in work, in relationships, with your children, as a neighbor. But striving for the best can ebb and flow and then the ensuing stress about not being at your best in one realm can affect another. Think of the holiday that many had yesterday. A day off to you might mean a list of many items to do:
– go for a run
– do a couple of loads of laundry
– stop by the pharmacy for a prescription
– grocery shop
– get the car washed
– update your resume
– catch up on your latest Netflix release
Unfortunately, as the day progressed, it rained and the car didn’t get washed, at least not the way you wanted it. You forgot your grocery list on the counter. One of the kids had an accident at soccer practice and you had to run to urgent care.
That’s where your situational best comes into play. Situational best is when you take into account all of the factors that you can’t control and react as best you can.
Think about it in the workplace. On any given day, you may have to step in to help others when you’re short-staffed, your secretary may be in a bad mood, the printer could be out of toner and the replacements are on backorder, and the network goes down. Any one of those would require flexibility and resilience – and all of them combined – you need to focus on being easy going and doing your best in a scenario where you really can’t improve any of those issues and whatever might have been on the task list for the day is nearly impossible to complete.
What each moment gives you is the chance to find your best you…and to be patient with yourself. Maybe you can think of it as self-compassion. And while it may sound great, easy it isn’t.
Where do you start with your situational best?
Define what best means. Or maybe it should read ‘redefine best.’ Often our best is really everyone else’s 100% and then some. Think through what doing your best is really about. If it is completing projects at a high quality, great. If perfection is what you are seeking and you are often disappointed with your performance, then maybe your sights are too high. I’m not suggesting lowering your standards for what great quality is, but perfection isn’t practical in the long term and giving 100% to every project with already overwhelmed task lists isn’t likely. And if need be, reckon back to your high school grades – 93% was still an A.
Support yourself the same as if you were a friend or colleague. We often push push push and have huge expectations of ourselves. And living up to that standard 24/7 isn’t possible and probably isn’t human, unless perhaps you don’t have children, a significant other, and can function on no sleep. Think about what you might say to a friend about his or her quality of work or responsiveness. Treat yourself with that same level of support and compassion.
Be aware of what you’re asked to do. If you’re a skilled leader or teacher, chances are, you’ll be asked to do more and more. Think that one through for a moment – those who are highly successful are asked to do more. Does that mean that ‘more’ is always at 100%? Absolutely not. Be cognizant of what the load is and what you are capable of as a normally functioning employee – or parent – or spouse. On any given day, superhuman really isn’t human.