You Did Your Best--Now Do Better

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I'm a bit of a perfectionist. While I've learned to love myself, flaws and all, I still struggle with the concept of making mistakes. Recently, I discovered that I was imparting pressure and expectations upon my yoga practice, inflicting guilt on myself if I didn't reach arbitrary self-imposed goals.

I had to learn to let go, breathe, and remind myself to always leave something for tomorrow.

I practice traditional Ashtanga yoga, and as of early October, I have an early morning practice Sunday through Friday that lasts 75-90 minutes. When my studio changed schedules to this morning practice, I realized that I had no remaining (legitimate) excuse to miss practice, save illness or injury. The practice allows for the traditional Saturday rest day, plus new moon and full moon rest days. In addition, women are encouraged to rest the first three days of their cycle each month. That makes for up to nine days of rest each month.

I vowed to NEVER skip a morning practice. I bounded from bed at 5:45 (OK, 6 or 6:15…), showered (we start practice with a clean body), and headed to the studio, groggy but eager to practice. By the time I arrived at the office a couple of hours later, I felt awake, alive, better than ever.

But the practice is rigorous, life happens, and I got tired. I found myself taking off a morning here and there.

Then I was injured (pulled back muscle), and I missed almost an entire week. A couple of weeks later, my teacher traveled for some training, and my schedule was disrupted again. I did home practice and went to other studios (and taught a few classes), but it wasn't "normal." The week before Christmas, I missed two mornings because I was purely exhausted.

I spent the day fretting about the setback, feeling "off" because I missed practice, and generally beating myself up.

That night, I lay in bed and thought about those feelings. I decided then and there to stop treating myself poorly.

My new morning mantra:
Do your best today.
Do better tomorrow.
And my evening affirmation:
I did my best today.
I'll do better tomorrow.

Whether you ordered takeout instead of cooking a healthy meal, ate four Christmas cookies at the company treat exchange, or slept in and missed a workout, don't beat yourself up. Treat yourself with love and respect, acknowledge that you did your best, and promise to do better tomorrow.

Instead of looking at the things I did "wrong," the decisions that led to "bad" choices, I choose to focus on the positives. Sure, I missed yoga that day, but I did eat 11 servings of fruits and vegetables, squeezed in a run, talked to a friend who was having a bad day and spent a few minutes meditating. All in all, not a "bad" day.

Do you agree with these sentiments? Do you beat yourself up for every healthy decision you miss, or do you focus on the ones you get right?

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MARTHA324 3/29/2021
What a great healthy approach! Report
KOHINOOR2 11/28/2020
I agree! Thanks Report
Great advice and very helpful. I think we all beat ourselves up about something. Thanks for writing about this. Report
Thanks for sharing! Report
Thanks, I Like It! Report
I really don't care for this mantra. I do believe in striving for excellence, not perfection. I don't understand how anyone can do better than his or her best. Psyching myself up to go beyond my capabilities is an exercise in futility, for then I am likely to beat myself up for not going beyond my best. How do you even measure better than your best? If you do better than the previous day, or previous personal best, that new number or whatever measurement simply becomes your personal best or the best you can do that day, not better than your best overall.

I recall from school: Make your good better and your better, best. There is no "Better Than Best."

I am doing my best today. I will do my best tomorrow. If I slip up, I will simply pick myself up and do the best I can. If circumstances arise that interfere with my "typical best," I will do the best I can given those circumstances.

Right now, I am dealing with a shoulder injury. My daily step count is down because I have to spend about 30 minutes twice daily doing shoulder physical therapy. It is challenging to avoid being frustrated at my lower step counts... a goal which actually reflects my best in certain circumstances. I am not going to deprive myself of sleep in order to cram in the steps that would bring me up to my average best. I actually had to lower my goal setting on my tracker, because I found I got very upset at not meeting my daily goal. I acknowledged that the shoulder therapy has a priority right now. I desperately want to reduce the pain, and that means accepting a lower step count. So while my shoulder is healing, my my best includes faithfully doing my PT and striving for a lower step goal.

I like the basis for your article, not focusing on what you did wrong, but I got lost when you made the mantras so prominent. Report
Great blog, super mantra! Report
Great article!!! Report
I'm so happy I found this article today because I really needed someone to tell me exactly this. I have a goal to go to my gym 4 days per week to take a specific class each day - today was Pilates. But my body was telling me "not today". The last two days' workouts were intense and I'm feeling it all over. "Not today" I heard again, so I decided to listen. I have walked Daisy this morning, I went out and did an hour of gardening. I will do some strength exercises this afternoon and will end my night with some gentle yoga. I listened to my body today but my conscience is still wrestling with that decision. Thank you for making it okay! Report
Good advice!!! Report
great Report
Exactly what I needed to hear today! Report
thank you for this - i'm the type who goes all out when starting a new project but when i slip up, i usually get stuck and feel discouraged. your blog has helped me change my perspective. one mistake won't undo all my hard work as long as i get back on track. Report
I've been saying lately "every day is a chance to do better" and I've even started a sparkteam with that name as a reminder that while we can't be perfect, if we keep working to do a little better each day, those little things add up to a lot of big changes over time. If we keep doing what we're doing but each day strive to do just one or a few things a little better, then we meet our goals in no time. Report
One of our tai chi goals is "make a little progress every day."
Good advice! Report
What a fabulous mantra and affirmation! Those are definitely sentiments I can practice more on embracing. Report
I feel like I am creating a new Normal and that is not going to happen overnight. So every positive step in the right direction is healthy. I am trying to not assign good and bad. Report
needed this after the holiday. thank you! Report
good advice, the sun will still shine tomorrow! Report
good advice, the sun will still shine tomorrow! Report
I definitely agree with that mantra because I don't beat myself up over things I did wrong. Instead I just choose to work harder the next time. During the holidays and family gatherings I allow myself to relax more. Report
Yes. I like Sylvia Boorstein's answer when people ask how she is. "Couldn't be better. If I could be, I would be." Report
Very positive attitude. Do you best today and save tomorrow for doing better. Perfection is not an attainable goal. Report
I love your mantra and have written them down to post in my kitchen and bathroom. I am tired of beating myself stops now! Report
I agree that beating yourself up when you get off track is never a good thing! It only puts it in your mind that you failed and you can't do anything right! I have not been doing so well this holiday season with eating, but I have exercised every day for 45 minutes each session. I believe that is why I only gained 3-4 lbs and you would not believe some of the stuff I have eaten!
If you believe in yourself, then getting back on track is easier, then when you just give up, throw in the towel and don't believe you are worth anything! My prayer is that each and every one of us on Spark People is able to achieve our goals! We do the best we can and we will have success! Report
I love your mantra :) Report
great thoughts for getting new year started right, i am borrowing your words to keep me on the right track Report
I too enjoy your mantras and many of your recipes have become favourites for DH nad I.
Most of all I am happy you are finally respecting your own personal boundaries and will no longer be disrespecting expectations. I am much older than you been there done that and am so much happier with accepting goos buy trying better tomorrow. Thanks for a really well written blog on the perfectionist mode.
Pat in Maine, I am doing the best I can to be happy content and healthy. Report
I enjoyed reading this blog. Very incouraging. I especially like the "morning mantra" and the "evening affirmation" idea. Report
I am learning to focus on the positives and am writing affirmations out and it has been very helpful. Report
Thanks! Exactly what I needed to hear today, the day after Christmas! Love your new mantra and will try to incorporate it into my life. Report
The mantra and the affirmation are inspiring and uplifting to my heart. I often respond to my daughter-in-laws' 'thank you', "I do my best to the glory of the God" which is also a gospel song that stayed in my mind & on my heart.

Even though the cravings and or binges happen, you pulled the one two punch and grabbed the fruit & veggies and threw in a run to relieving the aggression (or possible aggression) and or the stress and tension of the setbacks to your days. You might not have been in control with the yoga situation; you definitely beatup the gravings & binges; i.e. fruit & veggies (11), go mediate, go run to (probably 3miles), & talk to a friend :)!!! Report
Very inspirational. No, I don't normally beat myself up for the bad decisions I make because at the time the decision I make is exactly what I wanted to do. What's worst beating yourself up or not thinking consciously about your decisions? Report
I wrote down your mantra to remind myself that that is the only expectation. My hope is that in the coming year I can make my practices more of a habit and truly enjoy the time I spend in meditation and doing exercise. Report
What an ingenious, wonderful approach to take to life. Your new mantra is very inspiring and something that I don't think I will soon forget. Thank you! Report