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Tiny Wisdom: On Moving Forward

“Doing your best means never stop trying.” -Unknown

For years, I stressed over the possibility that my best was not good enough. I realized that I couldn’t possibly do better than my best, but as a type-A overachiever, this logic wasn’t sufficient permission to feel proud when I put all my heart into something.

I didn’t want to do my best–I wanted to do the best that anyone could do. I wanted to achieve greatness, as recognized by lots of people. I wanted it to be undeniably true that I was someone worth admiring and respecting.

What I have since realized is that no one’s admiration and respect will ever feel like enough until I admire and respect myself. And that doesn’t come from obsessing about perfect outcomes–it comes from knowing I am strong enough and brave enough to keep going, even knowing I’ll never be perfect.

If you are doing something that scares you, know that you are doing your best. If you’re doing something you’ve failed at before, know that you are doing your best. If you are doing something that you feel like you’re failing at now, know that you are doing your best.

And more importantly, regardless of what you achieve, know that you deserve your own respect and admiration for being a person who is willing to try.

Photo by retardoricardo

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha's Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • Elizabeth

    “I didnt want to do my best. I wanted to do the best that anyone could do.”
    Thank you for this. This sums up most of my life in a single sentence. I only knew how to define myself, to validate myself, in terms of comparisons with other people. It’s something I’ve been working on.

  • Elizabeth

    “I didnt want to do my best. I wanted to do the best that anyone could do.”
    Thank you for this. This sums up most of my life in a single sentence. I only knew how to define myself, to validate myself, in terms of comparisons with other people. It’s something I’ve been working on.

  • Elizabeth

    “I didnt want to do my best. I wanted to do the best that anyone could do.”
    Thank you for this. This sums up most of my life in a single sentence. I only knew how to define myself, to validate myself, in terms of comparisons with other people. It’s something I’ve been working on.

  • Elizabeth

    “I didnt want to do my best. I wanted to do the best that anyone could do.”
    Thank you for this. This sums up most of my life in a single sentence. I only knew how to define myself, to validate myself, in terms of comparisons with other people. It’s something I’ve been working on.

  • Elizabeth

    “I didnt want to do my best. I wanted to do the best that anyone could do.”
    Thank you for this. This sums up most of my life in a single sentence. I only knew how to define myself, to validate myself, in terms of comparisons with other people. It’s something I’ve been working on.

  • Elizabeth

    “I didnt want to do my best. I wanted to do the best that anyone could do.”
    Thank you for this. This sums up most of my life in a single sentence. I only knew how to define myself, to validate myself, in terms of comparisons with other people. It’s something I’ve been working on.

  • Elizabeth

    “I didnt want to do my best. I wanted to do the best that anyone could do.”
    Thank you for this. This sums up most of my life in a single sentence. I only knew how to define myself, to validate myself, in terms of comparisons with other people. It’s something I’ve been working on.

  • Elizabeth

    “I didnt want to do my best. I wanted to do the best that anyone could do.”
    Thank you for this. This sums up most of my life in a single sentence. I only knew how to define myself, to validate myself, in terms of comparisons with other people. It’s something I’ve been working on.

  • You’re most welcome. It sounds like we’ve had a lot in common! I’m so glad this was helpful to you. =)

  • I understand your point, I’ve felt the same way! I must say that your inner driver has caused you to yield some pretty impressive results. There’s the lotus flower.

  • Anonymous

    Indeed! Although now I really try to focus on comparing myself only to past versions of myself to feel a sense of progress, instead of obsessing about perfection. That type of attitude really sucked the joy out of everything I did.

  • Christa

    Beautifully articulated. This has been so on my mind lately- Tonight’s post, in fact.

    Thank you for this, and all you do. A lot of good has come of your high expectations!

  • Going through a bit of a crisis and this just hits the spot! thanks for writing amazing things!

  • Nancy

    I am a recovering perfectionist…and I need all the encouragement I can get – so thank you for allowing me to remember that I am perfect just the way I am!

  • mara

    It took me long time to realize the difference between doing my best at a specific moment and be the best. This not only helped me in accepting myself, and actually being happy for who I am, but also make me more open to trial and error process, basically live, as a result I now I prefer to attempt and make errors, knowing that I will learn and understand much more from the mistakes that from perfection.

  • “If you are doing something that scares you, know that you are doing your best.”
    After years of obsessing over my dream course – Accountancy, here I am, a graduate and employed. I finally have the chance to enroll in Accountancy. But, I am scared of the admission test! Darn .. So, I took some time. But, now I am confused if I really want it 🙂

  • Why do you feel confused? Is there something else that’s calling to you now?

  • Lost girl

     Lori, your posts help me so much as I too am a perfectionist Type A overachiever! This post really reminded me today of how I always compare myself to others. I am lucky enough to be doing a doctorate studying wildlife, but sometimes I really struggle. Every time I make a mistake I think ‘my supervisor wouldn’t do that’. At the moment I’m off on fieldwork and really struggling with loneliness and homesickness, always thinking how my friends are going out dancing together while I’m stuck in a tiny village, struggling to keep my team motivated. Anyway, last night my tiredness and absentmindedness led to me literally letting a new species I hadn’t seen before wriggle out of my hands before I’d identified it; it made me realise if I’m not focusing on here, I’m not really anywhere, and I will slip up again. I try to focus on the here and now but don’t really know how – I manage a few seconds and then fall back into familiar thought patterns ‘will that guy still like me when I go back?’ ‘I wish I could let off steam at the climbing wall’ and before I know it I’ve lost it again. How do you, as someone who tends to focus on the future and achievements, manage to be more mindful and ‘live in the present?’

  • Hi there,

    I can understand that sense of inner conflict. It sounds like you’re doing something amazing that you really want to do–but sometimes it’s hard to forget that a choice to do one thing is a choice not to do something else.

    A few things that really help me are: 

    -Deep breathing. I do this all throughout the day, whenever I remember to do it. I breathe in to the count of 4, hold for 7, and breathe out to the count of 8. I’ve found this is a highly grounding practice that really roots me in the present moment.

    -I tell myself, “All that exists is right in front of me.” Obviously I know this isn’t true, but it helps me focus on the present when I pretend there is literally nothing going on anywhere else.

    -I remind myself that I will one day die. I know this sounds kind of morbid, but it really helps jar me into the moment. When I’m fighting with my reality, I ask myself, “What if this was my last day?” That usually helps me appreciate enjoy my circumstances, instead of comparing them to what they *could* or *should* be.

    I hope this helps a little!

    Lori

  • Lost girl

     Thanks for replying Lori. I’ll try that! And I’d like to say again how much I enjoy your posts, as they really seem to come from the heart and your own experience, rather than preaching from on high – that’s why I visit this site so often.

  • You’re most welcome. That is my intention (to speak straight from my heart). I’m so glad to know it helps!