What does “do your best” really mean? How can you do your best?
This article is a complete guide to doing your best. You will learn the definitions of the phrase, what it means and how can you really do your best and get better at it.
It’s my best about doing the best.
Let’s dive right in.
“Do Your Best” Definition
“Do your best” means trying as hard as you can to do something, according to Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.
The definition in the Cambridge Dictionary is trying as hard as possible.
“If you do your best or try your best to do something, you try as hard as you can to do it, or do it as well as you can,” according to Collins.
MacMillan Dictionary defines it as trying as hard as you can to achieve something.
To do your best means to try as hard as you can to do or achieve something.
For example, if you say that you will do my best for the report, you will try to produce the best report you can.
But, what does it mean to do your best?
Imagine the last time you said you would do your best. What thoughts did you have? How did you feel? How did your body react? Did you fidget or bounce your legs ? Or did you feel inspired to get started and get focused? What was your heart rate like?
Then, what happened when you started doing it? What was the outcome like?
The thought of doing your best usually comes when things get difficult or uncertain. There are loads of them in work and life. It could be that you are not confident in what you do. Or it might motivate you to get better at what you do or not give up when things get tough. The phrase conveys lots of messages and meanings.
Let’s explore what it really means to do your best.
It means that you want to get better at what you do.
Whether you might be a beginner or pro, doing your best will stretch your skillset to get better at what you do. Use it as your mantra and create a ritual for it before starting to work on your deep work. Your cells will conspire to work for you. When you keep doing your best, your best will get better.
If you to learn to get better at the things you care about, you might find this TED Talk video by Eduardo Briceño:
Doing your best requires effortful thinking.
Daniel Kahneman, the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, introduced the concept of effortful and effortless thinking in his best-selling book Thinking Fast and Slow. Habitual activities rely on intuition and use less energy. A pro that can keep doing their best continues to use their effortful thinking. Thus, they continue to improve. That’s how champions beat their competition.
You are less confident that you will do it well enough.
It might be your first time doing the work. The expectation could be too high. For example, your client expects that you will solve their staff conflict issues once and for all. The first time you come across a problem, you’re not sure how to solve it. So, it is common that you have the thought of doing your best.
It is your way of motivating yourself when things get tough.
A project you have been working for years seems to go nowhere. You have put lots of effort into it every day. You’d feel less motivated as you haven’t seen the improvements you thought you would have after all these years. You might be about to give up. But you think, I’ll do my best because will give me the freedom that I wanted to have in life.
You want to work harder.
Your work outcome is ok or even already good enough but you want to get better at it. That’s when you might tell yourself to do your best too. Or for some reason, you can’t seem to get focused on that business idea you started more than a year ago. You get frustrated about it and want to work harder at it.
By telling yourself that you’ll do your best, you accept that you might fail.
In other words, it means letting go of control. How do you feel when you say, I will do my best to get something? I’m sure if you pay enough attention to how you feel, you will notice it. It is possible that you might as well fail at it as you are telling yourself to do your all.
Your brain is hard at work if you can pull yourself together to actually do your best.
So the next time you feel stuck, you could use the phrase as your mantra. Say it again and again until you can feel it. You might also want to try creating a ritual to bring your mantra to life. That will make it easier to do your best.
You don’t want to regret it and blame yourself.
Doing your best means that you don’t want to regret it if you finally fail. “Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.” – Don Miguel Ruiz=
Doing your best does not mean you have to be perfect.
Not only you don’t have to be perfect, but you also must learn to set it aside after you have done enough preparation. In fact, perfectionism should not be part of anything you do at all. As Brené Brown said, “Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. It's a shield. It's a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it's the thing that's really preventing us from taking flight.”
There’s so much more to doing your best and great quotes can explain it better.
20+ Best Quotes about Doing Your Best
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
“Do the best you can. If it still doesn't work out, at least you will have the peace of mind knowing you tried.” ~ Akiroq Brost
Peace of mind is what doing your best has to offer, whether you succeed or fail.
“Don't just look; see! There is always an opportunity to make something better! There is always a better us we can make better than the better we know! The true better you is the true you can truly make better! Better your better now!” ~ Ernest Agyemang Yeboah
By doing your best you will continually improve.
“When you do your best, you become better at what you do.” ~ Gift Gugu Mona
Do your best and see how your best gets better—a great reason to always do your best even if you already are great at it.
“I pray not for victory, but to do my best.” ~ Amos Alonzo Stagg
It means so much to do your best. The lessons you learn and the fulfillment you feel are just two of what it has to offer.
“Take no past regrets to the current state, embrace the lessons, start afresh, and do your best.” ~ Aisha S. Kingu
Or the other way round. Do your best and you will not regret your past.
“Your best will never be good enough to the ones constantly searching for your flaws. But for you to be the best, you need to ignore your flaws and do what is the best.” ~ Gift Gugu Mona
Or maybe this: to do your best, you need to embrace your flaws. And only by embracing your flaws, your best will come. This is contrary to the common belief. Not only is perfectionism not useful when it comes to doing your best but also detrimental.
“I sometimes fell short of being the best, but I never fell short of giving it my best.” ~ William McRaven
We can’t always be our best version of ourselves for this job, this relationship, or this life. But we can always do our best for it. We might fail at it, but we might as well succeed.
“Today is all you have. Don't worry about tomorrow. Just do the best you can right now. One day, one moment at a time.” ~ Akiroq Brost
Another great reason to give your best to the deep work you do. You can’t give your best to everything because you have limited willpower.
“When fucked up, there's no time for blaming each other.” ~ Toba Beta, Master of Stupidity
Only the time to do our best? I don’t know if doing your best will eventually solve your issues. But I am 100% certain that blaming doesn’t solve anything. Learn to manage your time better to be better at doing your best.
“God has already equipped you with the skills you need to achieve your dreams. If you just try, work hard, take control of your destiny, remain true to yourself, and believe it is possible, you will have unlimited power to achieve the impossible.” ~ Germany Kent
Sounds like God only help those who dare to do their best! I thought only the world needs more of the best we have to offer. Now I’ve realized God does too.
“Do the best you can, with what you can, while you can, and success is inevitable.” ~ Steve Maraboli
I disagree. We might as well fail. It’s just worth it to do our best in what matters to us. This could be a better version. "Do the best you can, with what you can, while you can, and you will increase your chance to succeed.”
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” ~ Unknown
And then do your best again. In short, always do your best.
“It's not enough to just do your best. You must continue to improve your best.” ~ Kenneth Wayne Wood
Improve your best to get better. A way to do it is to make it a habit. That’s how champions beat their toughest rivals.
“Try your best... Do your best... Sow the best and reap the best! The best is right in you... Don't hide it and give out the worst. We are looking right up to you!” ~ Israelmore Ayivor
If you do your best, you will achieve your best. You could fail yet you can be 100% sure you will improve.
“The best way to create a better future is to do your best at this very moment.” ~ Debasish Mridha
Doing your best equals creating a better future. Well, only if your best goes to the right thing, I believe.
“Until you do your best, don't try to take a rest. Until you take a leap, don't try to sleep. Until you top, don't try to stop.” ~ Israelmore Ayivor
My take here: Do your best but also take time to rest and recover if you don’t want to get burnt out.
“Make doing your best a habit, and you’ll never know not doing your best. If you build roads, then build them Roman—make them last two thousand years. Dig ditches as if you were taking them to the state fair to win another blue ribbon for best ditches…” ~ Carew Papritz
That’s why some people seem to always do their best and others don’t. It’s a habit to cultivate!
“You have to first do your best before you expect God to do the rest for you.” ~Edmond Mbiaka
And even if God doesn’t do the rest for you, you won’t regret it.
“If you water your dreams with excellence, success will grow.” ~Matshona Dhliwayo
Or maybe not if you plant the seeds in dead soil but still, you won’t regret it for there are lots of lessons to learn from it.
“Do right. Do your best.” ~ Lou Holtz
Exactly, give your best to the right things and people. Or even to the wrong!?
“Do not desire to be recognized, but always desire to do your best to help humanity.” ~Debasish Mridha
Your best is more rewarding when you try to do something bigger than yourself. Purpose also makes it easier to do your best too.
How Can You Do Your Best?
Different types of work need different ways and strategies to do your best. Here are only my general principles to help you get the best out of doing your best.
Take a well-deserved rest
If you wonder what the heck taking a rest has to do with doing your best, my punch line would be this. You can’t give your best if you don’t have a restful sleep the night before. You can’t concentrate. In fact, you can’t even think straight. How can you possibly do your best? Rest is vital, and like running, you need to learn to do it better.
Multitasking pulls your energy in a million directions. In my experience, not only can’t I get focused, but I also find my attention on a hundred other things that I should not be thinking about at all. It kills productivity and is a very bad habit to have if you are to do your best and achieve deep work.
Read this article to learn how not to multitask.
Don’t get distracted
I hope you agree with me that you can’t do your best if you get distracted. Multitasking is one of the distractions. Two other major distractions are your phones and email. So, don’t multitask, set up your phones to work for you, and tame your email so that you can do your best.
Let each task fill your world
I emphasize this as the first two steps do not guarantee that you can be fully focused. They are just the first steps to focus. I’ve been there myself. I am still learning. It takes a lot more to be able to get into the state of flow and do your best. You might need a ritual (meditation, breathing…), or affirmation before starting the work you want to give your best. You might even even want to prime yourself here. I use “FOCUS: Follow One Course Until Successful” on my computer home screen to prime myself. It takes a great deal of commitment and preparation to be indistractable.
Read Zenhabits’ Let Each Task Fill Up Your World for how to do it.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
Preparation is key to achieving your best. As Abraham Lincoln said:
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.”
It is key to doing your best. Without sufficient preparation, you cannot do your best. So prepare well before you start. It might even necessary to keep preparing even while you’re already working on it.
Leave perfectionism aside and just do your best
As a perfectionist myself, I understand very well the tendency to be perfect as we set out to do their best. After all the preparation, the next thing to do is… just do it, tossing perfectionism into the ocean. When you get stuck, pause, and breathe deeply. Observe your thoughts and sensations. Tell yourself to keep at it just one more minute. And just do it.
I wanted to finish this article. But after sleeping on it, I feel that it is not complete without a few insights that I have to share with you.
Doing your best could come from fear. You might be new to the work and need to learn more about it. The task itself might be difficult to master. If you start a new business, you must do your best to succeed. While a bit of fear could be useful, there is a better place from which your best can come.
It could result from your desire to get better at what you do. A pro usually pushes themselves past their limits. Their comfort zone gets larger as they continue to commission their effortful thinking to perform the work they do every day.
Make it a habit to do your best. It is one of the habits that the world’s champions develop to outperform their rivals. They enjoy the effortlessness their habits offer to perform their task. And they continue to give it their best to keep improving and achieve what is impossible for most people.
It’s not enough to do your best. The thing you do must also be meaningful. After all, you can’t give your best to everything. Our resources are limited. But, you can choose a few essentials and give them your all.
The world has enough of us. It’s time we start to give it our best. I hope and believe that this article will inspire you to choose to give your best to what matters to you.
Watch this video to get inspired and... do your best!
Now Over to You
I hope you get lots of values out of this guide to doing your best.
Now I’d like to turn it over to you:
What does “do your best” mean to you? What do you do to give your best to something?
Or maybe you have an excellent insight that you think I should add.
Let me know in the comment.