"Just do your best", is something we say so readily. But how do I know if I'm doing my "best". These 6 questions will tell me.
Greetings from Hell…or Southern Oregon…whichever name you prefer. We have been, once again, inundated with smoke due to all of the wild fires in Oregon and California. This is year number 3 of thick smoke and limited outdoor activities, which I understand, is not that long. I know folks down in California that have had their actual county burn for a 5th year in a row, so I don’t want to bitch too long about it all…we have it pretty good comparatively.
In fact, I’ve been pretty proud of myself in that I’ve managed to retain a positive frame of mind during Mother Nature’s imposed house arrest. I have gotten out to surf a few times and when it’s clear(ish) in the mornings I get to take my walk. However, with my kiddo starting school soon and Summer coming to a close, it’s time to get back to a full work schedule. All of my big Summer travel is done and although I know I’ll sneak off to the coast when I can, I’m really looking forward to getting back to work.
To be honest, I feel as though my work got pretty interrupted in the Fall of last year when I registered for an intense education program with the goal of getting savvier when it comes to growing my art business. I knew I would have to divert my energy and so I let go of writing 2 blog posts per month and being quite so prolific in the studio. I was well aware that with the extra work from the program, I would be spread quite thin, so I chose not to fight it and to just do my "best".
That program ended recently and so I can get back to some of the things that I really miss, such as writing my blog. Over the past week or so, I’ve gotten myself almost caught up with my day to day and I keep just telling myself that the work will get done if I just continue to do my "best".
“Do your best” is something that I say to myself and my daughter pretty often. Recently, however, I have found that even though my intention is to “do my best”, I usually feel as though I should be doing more than I am, that I should have more accomplished than I do and that I should be somewhere further along by now in my business. Don’t ask me to define where I think I should be…I can’t. It is an arbitrary finish line that I understand I will never, ever reach. I will never think I’m doing enough therefore, I can only do my "best" and try to be kind to myself in the process, right?
Summer travel may be a distraction...but I did get to eat this most incredible lobster roll...so there's that.
I really want to stop “shoulding” all over myself, but my analytical side has a very challenging time figuring out when I’ve done my “best”. The problem I’m having is that my “best” also seems arbitrary. I am, and have always been, extremely hard on myself. I have definitely improved on the negative self-talk and I have more trust than ever in my art and my business abilities. That being said, I’m also an artist with a business degree and the numbers and spreadsheets part of myself would really like a way to measure if my “best” has been met each and every month.
So here, in as dorky a way as possible, I have come up with my own questionnaire in an effort to gauge what I have to do in order to do my “best”, not only in my art and my art biz, but in my life in general because hello…there is more to life than work and for me, balance is key. I’ll record my own answers as I go:
In no particular order, list the things in life that are most important to me, my well-being, the well-being of my business and the well-being of my family (because let’s face it, if Mama ain’t happy, aint NOBODY happy).
Answer: Creating art, creating growth within my business, writing, exercise, surfing, being outside, cooking healthy sit down dinners for my family, spending time with family and friends, being useful within my community (including family, friends, surf and art communities).
Last month, did I do all of the above in some form or another?
Answer: In July, I had a lot of travel on my menu and so the amount of art and writing created did not happen in the abundance that I would like to see. I did, however, make some art sales, had an art show and received great press both locally and regionally. I got a good amount of exercise in the form of surfing, yoga, walking and dancing. I have actually been quite good about cooking all of the food in the fridge (no vegetable left behind!) and sitting down to eat with the fam when we’re all home. I had excellent time with family and friends at High Sierra Music Festival, surfing, and during a trip to the North East. Hubbie and I got away for 3 days of surfing, the music festival, and a date night. Community wise, I did my own beach clean ups when I took my beach walks (there is always trash to pick up), I took my daughter to visit colleges and I helped her create a resume so she can find a part time job.
What did I do more than enough of and not enough of?
Answer: I hung out with my friends way more than I normally do. I didn’t do nearly enough writing or create enough art.
Were there any extraordinary circumstances that hindered me from accomplishing all the things?
Answer: Yes and no. There was a lot of travel and so access to my art studio was limited. That being said, I could have sketched and written more on the road.
Did I do my best?
Answer: On everything but creating art and writing but I’m gonna go ahead and cut myself some slack as creating art outside of my studio can be challenging for me and I did manage to make some new art when I was home. Also, I tried some experimental writing during my flight and was writing once a week on my Patreon page, which has been serving as my diary, so even thought I didn’t add to my blog, all is not lost.
What will I improve upon this month?
Answer: I’m already doing it! Now that my education program is done, I want to get back to posting blogs twice a month (thus this mid-month blog post) and getting more done in the studio. Also, I know that getting outside will be difficult with all the smoke in our valley, so I will make sure to do my morning Yoga and meditation, take my morning walks when possible and get to the coast when I can.
Ok…so I have to be honest...I embarked on writing this blog post totally accepting of the fact that I was going to realize that during the month of July, I didn’t nearly do my best. But now that my best isn’t quite so arbitrary, now that I have defined what my best is for me, I see now that I did a pretty damn good job.
It is also informative to me that at the beginning, I was already putting myself down. I had already made the decision that I didn’t do my best in July. I wonder how many million times I’ve given myself hard time about not doing my best when it’s just plain not true. Well, now I have 6 questions that will take care of any future confusion for me, or for any of you who might know the negative self-talk struggle.
Check it out! I made a pretty cool sculpture in July. It's not done yet, but I'm getting there!
We all have the ability to put ourselves down. Some of us do it much more than others. If you struggle with knowing if you’re doing you best, I’d love for you to try out my questions and see for yourself if you are, and if you’re not, where you can improve. It’s not a win/fail determination. For me, I know it’s just a matter of seeing it written down, in black and white, and making adjustments where I can.
Or you may be like my daughter, who when I asked if she ever has trouble figuring out what her “best” is, she looked at me like I was crazy and said, “No. I just try my hardest.” Ah to be blessed with a mind that doesn’t over complicate things.