By: Neghar On: October 27, 2014 In: Family, heart wisdom, Lifestyle, Mindset Comments: 12

The last month or so has been more than a little hectic around here.

Actually, if I can be honest with you, the last year has pretty much been hustle and crash on repeat. Nothing I can’t handle, of course, but just challenging in a myriad of ways.

Between my ongoing medical issues, moving across the country, planning a wedding, traveling, adjusting my entire family to a new location and routine—well, let’s just say I’ve been more than a little stressed. I typically deal with stress in a healthy manner, having several strategies in place, but my lifestyle has certainly taken a hit as my stress threshold reaches it’s limit.

There have been a few times that I’ve began to crack. Not completely. Just a few cracks here and there. And within those cracks I’ve found myself living out of balance, further from my center than I ever prefer to be.

In fact, over the last few weeks I’ve experienced so many cracks that I’m grateful to have simply done the bare minimum in all aspects of my life. As a recovering perfectionist, it’s often difficult to accept the bare minimum. But when I realign with my purpose and bring myself back to center, I realize it’s okay. The minimum is okay.

What it comes down to is this: Every now and then, I place unnecessary pressure on myself to be better than my best. 

Ya’ll know how I feel about your “best.” Your best is not anyone else’s best; it doesn’t hinge on the actions or successes of others. Your best is different every single day; it’s the trust and acceptance of knowing that right now you are doing the best you can, and that tomorrow your best might involve more or less effort.

Your best is what you can give at any moment, without causing harm to yourself or others. You simply can’t be better than your best, and you should be wary of those who attempt to convince you to do so—especially if that person happens to be you. 

There are times during my journey when I think I need to do better than my best. When this happens I simply become a aware of the feeling—without judgment, shame, or self abasement. Everything is an opportunity to learn, to grow, to evolve. I will sometimes feel stress, envy, jealousy, anxiety, and fear. I will sometimes revert to old habits and begin to think: “What if it’s not enough? What if I need to be more?”

I know it’s a trap. I know it won’t serve me. I know that I’m always doing my best, and sometimes my best is the bare minimum.

The way I see it, if my dogs and kiddo are fed, coffee is brewed, and my body has moved (at least a little)—I’m doing alright. I might only manage a 15-20 minute workout and wind up eating the most random concoction of food from the fridge, but that’s all completely okay. In fact, it’s more than okay.

In order to be truly and sustainably successful and content, I’ve given myself explicit permission to sometimes just do the bare minimum, which consists of my daily “non-negotiables.” When it comes to my daily non-negotiables, the list is pretty short (obviously this includes unlisted things like getting out of bed, brushing my teeth, and so on).

My Daily Non-negotiables

  • Move every day for at least 15 minutes (sometimes that’s a leisure walk or yoga, other times a lifting sesh)
  • Do some type of intuitive/introspective practice (read, journal, Tarot, meditate, etc)
  • Write a minimum of 300 (often shitty) words
  • Stay hydrated
  • Go to bed as early as possible, without scrolling through my phone in bed
  • Express gratitude and love whenever possible
  • Spend at least 15-30 minutes quality time with my kiddo

That’s it.

That’s my bare minimum, and everything else is up for negotiation. As a recovering perfectionist, it’s taken me years of practice to learn to let go of the need to do everything—and do so perfectly. I used to feel as though if I didn’t have the time for an hour training session, I might as well not work out at all (which is why I’ve put together so many quickie workouts on my YouTube channel). Or, if I couldn’t put together a weeks worth of perfect meals, I might as well just throw in the towel and eat whatever I came across.

It’s that all or nothing mentality to which so many of us fall victim, simply because we don’t give ourselves permission to do the bare minimum when the occasion calls for it.

Inevitably, life will throw you some ugly curve balls and no amount of preparation can completely account for everything it throws at us. I’ve often heard clients say, “I was doing great but then life got in the way.” Life didn’t get in the way; it’s always there, and as long as we are in the flow and except these inevitable fluctuations, all will be well in our heads and our hearts.

There will be times when it’s all you can do to get out of bed and get dressed for work—and that’s okay. There will be days when you just can’t wait to hit the pillow and start over tomorrow—that’s okay too. Rather than stress over “life getting in the way” and instead of trying to do everything, put together a list of your daily non-negotiables—your bare minimum—and aim to do that.

And then, just…breathe. Breathe deeply with intention. Refocus your energy. Realign with your purpose. Journal. Read. Repeat this mantra: Right now is enough. 

Say it out loud: Right now is enough. Right now, this best is my best.

I truly believe that if we allow our bodies and hearts to follow the natural ebb and flow of life, we will always be exactly where we need to be. This takes trust: trust in the process, trust in yourself, trust that right now is enough, trust that you’re doing your best—always.

This is how I get back to my center, and let go once again of the itch that returns from time to time telling me that I need to be better than my best. It takes diligent practice, deep trust, and constant effort. Every now and then I will feel the itch, but I’m prepared to deal with it. I don’t have to be perpetually “on” in order to be happy and I don’t have to run anyone else’s race, fight anyone else fight—and neither do you.

In the end it really comes down to this unfailing belief: there is no such thing as better than my best and it’s okay to do my bare minimum.

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  • Maria L

    This is what helps me get through sometimes. I’m about 7 weeks away from completing my master’s. I know I need to take care of myself, but I don’t always make time. Remembering at least 10 minutes of exercise everyday is better than none. I am even making progress. I read another of your posts where consistency is key. Seeing your list of “Bare Minimums” helps me remember where I need to prioritize and where I can negotiate. Thank you!

    • Neghar Fonooni

      I am so happy that I could help! And best of luck on completing your Masters.

  • Dawn DiPietropolo

    Thank you !! This is very helpfull. I have hit a bumpy road along my path in life. Reading your blogs has given me inspiration, and guidance. To allow myself to stop and breath and realize I am doing the best I can.

    • Neghar Fonooni

      Thank you for reading! I promise I will continue to put all this juicy goodness out into the world :).

  • Thank you.

    I’m totally there with you on the “hustle and crash – repeat” cycle in life and what it feels like to be living out of balance – doing the bare minimum at every turn. Really, it was like every snippet of this article resonated with me big time. Also, you gave me a new and beautiful shift in perspective on my own “daily non-negotiables”. They are my bare minimum. And sometimes, it’s important to realize – that’s enough.

    I know a few people who are like you and I, and will L O V E this post. Thanks for sharing a little bit of magic with the world. This is definitely a job well done. :)

    • Neghar Fonooni

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Courtney! I am so happy that I could make an impact on your life.

  • Perfect timing – I needed this so badly today! I just completed my first Whole30 and was beating myself up for not doing it “well enough” (too many compliant hot dogs and lara bars, not enough cooking/veggies). Then, after my experimental reintroduction, sugar has left me reeling – I want to bury my face in a chocolate cake and eat my way out. It has me really discouraged, like I lost all the hard work I put in (and the sugary mood swings aren’t helping things either).

    Thanks for the reminder that I’m doing my best and can keep making healthy choices even though I feel a little derailed/lost now that my comfy Whole30 structure is gone. :)

    • Neghar Fonooni

      You didn’t lose or waste anything! Everything is an experience and a chance to learn. Great job embarking on a Whole30!

  • Melissa Utomo

    Love this, thank you so much for sharing! I realize I continuously set high demands of my everyday and when my tasks don’t get completed (like, working on my interviewing skills, finishing a workout, and ironically finishing a book on Buddhism and Self Love) I would look at myself and be disappointed with my lack of focus or direction. I discovered this vicious cycle snow-balled into a negative self-perception of being “that girl” who talks about wanting to succeed and having aspirations but never getting to them.
    I think creating a non-negotiable list and learning to accept my best will be a great first step to loving myself and trusting that I do have direction and will reach my goals, even if it means not completing a 20 task daily list.

    • Neghar Fonooni

      I hope your non-negotiables are manifesting and that you’ve learned more self-trust :). Thanks so much for reading.

  • qeby21

    Thanks for sharing. more