In his book, The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz says,
“Always do Your Best.”
Most people try to do their best most of the time. But our best can be different depending on the day. If you’re tired, feeling out of sorts or just having a bad day in general, your best is going to look a lot different than on a day when you’re feeling great and everything seems to be going your way. And then there’s going to be days where you’re somewhere in between. Whatever the time or circumstance of your day, your best is going to change. But what if you wanted to up your game and do things a bit better on a regular basis, regardless of the day you’re having? Whether it’s work, home, health, finances, relationships, or something else, you might be wondering, how could I do things better?
Rule #1: Assess
To start with, think about what you want to be better at. If you’re thinking about improving your job skills or becoming more efficient, think about where you could make changes. Ask yourself some questions to determine what areas need stepping up.
For instance, how do you usually perform a certain task? Could you do it in less time? Could you use more efficient tools or materials that would make it easier, or produce a better quality finished product? Take a good look at how you are currently doing your job, and assess what you need to change and how that would make it better or easier.
Do you need more education or training to do it better? If it’s a relationship you want to do better at, do you need better communication skills? Do you need to set aside more time? Maybe you want to improve your daily work strategy. How could restructuring your schedule help you to accomplish more in a shorter period of time? Would new equipment make things go faster or help you to become more organized?
Once you know what it is you want to improve on, you can start taking steps to plan out how you want to proceed. Planning your next move can bring new life and excitement to something that has started to become too routine or outdated.
Rule #2: Focus on the Process
There is an old saying that goes, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” Achieving the highest quality in whatever you’re doing can bring self satisfaction and acknowledgement that you’ve done your best.
Once you have decided to improve on something, put your attention and focus on the process of doing it. Rushing through something doesn’t allow you to put your entire effort into what you are trying to accomplish. And paying close attention to your current task can help you to avoid having to redo it later. Having an idea of what your end goal looks like is important, but the steps along the way are the real building blocks that give it strength, foundation and substance.
Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses will give you clues as to where to focus your talents and skills. If you know that you work best at a certain time of day, or under specific conditions, then plan to utilize those times and environments to help you to do your best work. If you are especially good at a particular skill, or have a talent for something, then make those qualities shine, while you work on improving other areas that will add support to your strengths.
If you need help to stay focused on your task, try eliminating distractions. Francesco Cirillo developed The Pomodoro Technique as a method of time management to help people become more disciplined and think about their work. This technique uses a timer to help train your brain to stay on task for short periods of time. Work for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break. Repeat this pattern four times, and then take a 30 minute break. Using time management tips like this one can help you to be more productive and stay on task when learning to do something better.
Another tip to know if you are working on the right things toward improvement, is to ask yourself if what you’re doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow. When you focus on what you’re doing, you will get more done and have a clearer picture of what you want.
Author Paulo Cuelho wrote,
“No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.”
Rule #3: Education and Training
Motivational speaker and author Zig Ziglar stated,
”If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.”
If more information or skills could bring improvement to what you’re doing, then it may be time to get some help. Taking a class, reading a book on a particular subject or asking a professional for guidance may be just the step you need to take your project to the next level.
Putting in the effort needed to learn something new can be a challenge. But pushing yourself can be a good way to stretch your boundaries and grow. For example, if there is a new computer program that would make your job easier, then the time spent learning it will reap dividends in the long run. The work you put into learning this new skill could save you hours of time once you’ve implemented it into your workplace.
For example, in woodworking, a new tool, or one that does a specific cut can make a big difference in how the finished product looks, and how long it takes to do it. Author Anthony T. Hincks once said,
“Make sure you always have the right tools for the job. It’s no use trying to eat a steak with a teaspoon and a straw.”
Whether you work in an office, a construction trade or you’re a stay at home parent, the tools, education and training you acquire can make the difference in the work you do and the outcome it produces.
Rule #4: Don’t Criticize Yourself
Recognize that you’re already doing good, you just want to do better. You may find that sometimes you can be your own worst critic. Although wanting to improve is a great place to start, it can be easy to become critical of where you are right now if you are only looking at where you want to be.
Tennis champion Venus Williams suggests,
“Just believe in yourself. Even if you don’t, pretend that you do, and at some point, you will.”
Growing from a place of positivity will take you farther than judging yourself. Look at how far you’ve come and pat yourself on the back for wanting to go even farther! Moving toward your goal will have more power and momentum than focusing on what you have not yet achieved.
Praise yourself for how far you’ve come, and then keep going!
Rule #5: Practice
You may have heard the phrase, “Practice makes Perfect.” Well, perfection may not be the actual goal, but practice will almost always make you better at something and probably get you pretty close to perfect. When learning to play a musical instrument, students will often start out practicing 20-40 minutes per day. Serious professionals will spend hours per day to develop their skills. The same can be said for athletes. While it can depend on the age and dedication of the person learning a new skill, the point is that practice makes a difference and when you’re just starting out, it’s okay to start out small.
Basketball star Michael Jordan once stated,
“Some People want it to happen, some wish it would happen and others make it happen.”
He understood the value in persistent practicing to achieve a high level of performance.
Scheduling time each day to practice a new skill or learn a new program can help you take the time to actually do it.
By consistently taking small steps you can get better at anything. Assess your starting point. Focus on the process. Find the tools and information you need to go to the next level. Stay positive! Practice every day.
Getting better at anything takes time, persistence, and knowing where you want to go. But if you stick with it, you’ll find that you can make large strides in improving your skills and achieving your goals.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”– Maya Angelou