Do your best–Bad advice?

“Work hard.”

“Do your best.”

These are the typical comments people give. They mean well.

But what do they mean?

Work hard? Of course I’ll work hard—but how do I know if I’m getting closer to my goal or simply working hard and wasting time?

Do your best? And how on earth do I know if I’m doing my best?

Picture from Matt Furey-author of Combat Conditioning

Let me give an example of how this is difficult. I’ve been working on the neck bridge, a challenging exercise that involves a lot of self will. My goal was to hold the position in the picture for 3 minutes. Not too long… until you’ve done it for 30 seconds! It’s like the punishment where a child has to squat with his back against a wall until he starts shaking and begging to stop.

Now, when I did my best, I could hold the neck bridge for a couple minutes.

The difference came when I decided to go for 3 minutes. It was “more than my best.” If I did my best, I would not have achieved it.

When you set a goal, follow these steps:

Be specific—this way you know when you reach it.

“I will lose 10 pounds.”

“I will write 1,000 words daily.”

Make it realistic—it will challenge you and be possible

“I will do 20 pullups.” This may be too hard.

“I will write 100 words daily.” This may be too easy and not rewarding.

Set a deadline—this forces you to finish.

“I will write 10,000 words by June 1.”

Choose a reward or punishment.

Reward: This can be simple—a date, a small gift. But you cannot get this without achieving your goal.

Punishment: The best may be ridicule. Tell enough people about your goal so that you are embarrassed to fail.

Now, stop doing your best. Go beyond it.

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