Are You Doing Your Best? What you plant now, you will harvest later.
February 4th, 2013 by Katie Morton
“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” ― Maya Angelou.
I love this quote, but I think sometimes people (myself included) misappropriate the message. Sometimes I know better, and do better. But sometimes, even though I know better, I don’t do the best I can.
The real question I like to ask myself is this:
Am I doing my best?
So let’s ask it right now: Now that I know better, am I doing my best? Are you? It’s an honest question. Perhaps you are. And if you’re not, it helps to become aware of that so you can step it up.
Lately, I’ve not been doing my best. I’ve been going to bed late, which has a domino effect on all areas of my life. I don’t get up early enough to meditate in the morning, plus morning workouts are short or skipped. My freelance writing gigs take longer and require more effort when I’m tired. This time suck means that my work on my eBook for newsletter subscribers has stalled.
At least I’m doing better in real life than in my dreams.
Last night I had a dream (nightmare, actually) that I drank a glass of red wine. A neighbor-friend offered it to me and I accepted, just a knee-jerk reaction – something that would not happen in real life. In the dream, I’d sipped about half the glass when I began to feel queasy and like I didn’t want to finish it. Old thoughts came forward like, “Would she be offended if I dumped the wine down the drain? Maybe I should just drink it.” And that’s when I realized what I’d done, that I’d violated my promise to myself to not drink, and I felt awful at my self-betrayal.
(Side note: Anyone who regularly breaks promises to oneself can learn to feel bad at self-betrayal, which is a good thing. I used to break promises to myself without giving it a second thought, something I rarely do now.)
And then, still in the dream, I thought of the embarrassment I would suffer because of the “I told you so” crowd. And more importantly, I felt terrible for those who are watching and waiting and wondering if they should take a break from drinking; my failure was impactful most of all to them, because it put a crack in the “this is a possibility” foundation…and then, thankfully, I woke up. What a relief!
The dream got me to thinking about what rules I will instill around alcohol come December of 2013. I know that it will obviously occupy a much smaller space in my life; at most, a 4 ounce portion at dinner for health reasons, but even that sounds ridiculously excessive to me right now. It will probably be closer to having one or two on social occasions, with the very rare “good time” thrown into the mix – for example, a special event like a wedding or a big party.
Do you follow rules in your life?
This brings me to the rules I’d like to instill in my life right now, rules that will help me to do my best. Here are some rules I’m going to work on establishing in my life this week:
1. Wake up at 6:30AM. Lift weights Monday – Wednesday – Friday, cardio Tuesday – Thursday.
2. Meditate for 10 minutes each morning.
3. Always leave a room neater than when I entered it.
4. Reset the house to “tidy” each night before bed.
5. Before sleep, name one priority to tackle the next day to further my business. Pick what’s important, and let the rest go.
6. Lights out by 10PM.
I’ve noticed that I often attempt to establish new habits by biting off more than I can chew. This is a pretty ambitious list. This morning I managed to get up at 7AM and go for a walk outside. I meditated for about 5 minutes. So I didn’t meet my goals, but I’m happy that I managed to go to bed very close to 10PM last night, and that I did a “light” version of the morning routine I’m aiming for. It’s important to give myself credit for making progress.
Why bother with rules?
What you plant now, you harvest later. I’ve noticed this theme recurring in my life. When I decided to “plant” this business, it seemed pretty farfetched that I could get this thing off the ground. But it’s a formula: you reap what you sow. When I do the work, I see results. When I slack off, I see the results of that too!
I’ve noticed that the passage of time can be upsetting…aging, that slow creep forward that we can’t stop. The exception is when we do our best: when we take advantage of each moment, of this time that’s been gifted to us. When we do our best, when we improve ourselves, our lives, and the lives of our loved ones, then the ticking of time feels natural. Life feels right as it unfolds. And that shouldn’t be the exception. We should make it the rule.
I thought you might find this post by Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project interesting: Want To Be Free From French Fries? Or, Why Abstaining May Be Easier Than You Think.
(Photo by: Rennett Stowe)