THE 4TH OF THE FOUR AGREEMENTS

Agreement Four - Always do your best and you avoid self- judgement and regret

INTRO

Don Miguel Ruiz wrote a best selling book called The Four Agreements - I really appreciated his insights and thought how well they could be applied to Midlife. So throughout August I've been covering them one at a time. Here is the 1st Agreement, and the 2nd Agreement and the 3rd Agreement (if you missed them). Today it's the Fourth (and final) Agreement and what Midlife has taught me in regard to it.

AGREEMENT FOUR - ALWAYS DO YOUR BEST

One of the many lessons I've learned in Midlife is that I'm not perfect and that it's okay to not be perfect - perfectionism is a killer! Being imperfect doesn't give me a Get Out Of Jail Free card though, it doesn't mean I can sit back and do as little as possible and not give things my best shot. Doing or being the best I can at something might mean that the result is less than wonderful, but if I know it was my best effort then I know that's enough.
Agreement Four - Always do your best and you avoid self- judgement and regret

YOUR BEST IS GOING TO CHANGE FROM MOMENT TO MOMENT

Even the definition of what "doing your best" means changes depending on our stage of life. It can mean giving 100% in your study or work when you're young, it can mean being the best parent you're capable of being, it can mean stepping up when your own parents need help as they become elderly, it can mean investing yourself whole-heartedly in your marriage and your relationships with others.

Sometimes it's easy to give our best - when the kids were little and happy and weren't driving us crazy. Or when things are going smoothly financially. Or when our partners are happy and we feel connected and on the same page as they are. Or when work is going well - no unexpected hiccups or dramas - just smooth sailing. Then there are the times when we're off our game and everything is a struggle - it's like we're pushing a boulder uphill - our best might only be 75% but it's all we've got and that can still be enough.

IT WILL BE DIFFERENT WHEN YOU ARE TIRED AS OPPOSED TO WELL-RESTED

Remember those early days of parenthood - babies that never seemed to sleep? And even when they were asleep we'd still be only dozing in case they woke and needed us. Remember how it frayed your temper and your tolerance level? I spent years feeling mildly exhausted - just as our first finally started sleeping well, we were back to the beginning with our next baby. I feel tired just thinking about it!

Now we have all night to sleep and I can still wake up tired - from sleeping more lightly (one of the undisclosed "joys" of Midlife) My husband snores, a dog barks, thunder rumbles, sirens sound, someone's having a party.....and the list goes on. Being tired makes giving our best that little bit harder - I know when my iron levels were at rock bottom earlier in the year, I struggled to always have a smile and not to be annoyed at the "idiots" around me! Now I'm back to normal and life is sunnier - and so am I! Giving my best is sooo much easier when I'm well and when I've had a couple of good nights of sleep.

If you can see yourself as an artist - Don Miguel Ruiz

UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, SIMPLY DO YOUR BEST AND YOU WILL AVOID - SELF-JUDGEMENT, SELF-ABUSE AND REGRET

Don't you just hate it when you know that you didn't give something your best shot? When you look back and know you wimped out rather than stepping up to the challenge? I know I kick myself when I could have done better but took the easy way out - the shortcut often looks good at the time, but it can be something we regret later.

Putting in the time and investing yourself to the best of your abilities has rewards - deeper relationships, more respect from your peers, closer connections, a sense of satisfaction in a job well done, success rather than just getting by. Those rewards in turn improve our sense of self-worth and when we see what we're capable of, we get brave enough to step up and step out to discover what else we can achieve. As the quote goes:


It's better to look back on life and say: "I can't believe I did that," than to look back and say: "I wish I did that."

WHAT ABOUT  YOU?

Are you giving life your best shot? Does giving 100% pay off or is it trying too hard and setting yourself up for disappointment? Is it easier to give your best when you're firing on all four cylinders?


Agreement Four - Always do your best and you avoid self- judgement and regret

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34 comments

  1. Each week when I do the corporate newsletter for the day job I include a quote. The one I'm using this week is "whatever you 100% looks like, do that." There are days where your 100% looks less than other days - but it's still 100%.

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    1. Exactly Jo! And beating yourself up over not giving 150% is just crazy. I'm learning to be kinder to myself and to accept that sometimes it won't be perfect, but it will still be good :)

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  2. That's such great advice, Leanne. It's only taken me 50 years to realize that perfection will never happen, and now life is so much easier!! And way less stressful!!
    XOXO
    Jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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    1. I'm the same Jodie - I thought perfectionism was something to be sought after - it took me 50 years to figure out what a lie that is - and what a drain it places on us. Good enough is good enough these days.

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  3. I'm reminded of the Theodore Roosevelt quote "Do the best you can with what you have, where you are". I haven't been firing on all 4 cylinders of late but I guess I try my best with what I have. Such a great post with your usual insightful words Leanne! :-) #TeamLovinLife

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    1. I'm the same Min - I have my first cold for the Winter and I feel like I'm struggling to put one foot in front of the other - taking time to allow myself to be "less" for a while is such a relief - much better than driving through and over-doing it.

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  4. Hi, Leanne - I agree that giving one's best varies across times and situations -- and is definitely easier when well-rested! I've greatly enjoyed this series. Thank you for sharing it.

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    1. After a couple of nights of awful sleep (due to the horrible cold I have atm) I've really come to appreciate what a solid 8hrs of quality sleep does for my coping ability Donna!

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  5. My best definitely changes. But it's always my best!

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    1. Mine too Diane - but I'll always give things my best shot - lame excuses are not in my repetoire!

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  6. Leanne, I'm a perfectionist. And I am hardest on myself with those expectations. I'm trying to learn to acknowledge that sometimes good enough is good enough! And to not beat myself up for failing to be perfect in every situation. Min's Theodore Roosevelt quote is one I need to start living and realize the best I can is really "good enough"!

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    1. I'm definitely doing my best to get the perfectionism trait out of my daily line-up Pat. I am so sick of beating myself up when I don't do something as well as I assume I should - now I'm being kinder to myself and I think that's a very good way to be.

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  7. I have not been a give it a 100% girl- more of a good enough girl. Rather then beat myself up I now take the position that the good enough girl was really doing her best in that moment. I am more into doing my best these days which usually means doing less with the energy available to me. What I love about these teachings is that here we are making up the story of our lives and so why not make it as beautiful as possible. great insights leanne into the four agreements and their connection to the midlife.

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    1. I envy you the fact that you didn't get sucked into the perfectionism trap Sandra. I am reading so much these days on how destructive perfectionism is, I'm just glad I found out with enough time to make some changes and to allow some freedom in my thought processes.

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  8. I think we are all guilty of taking short cuts at times. Fortunately for me, what I do really only affects myself and my husband right now. I believe I can honestly say I gave my best effort at any jobs I had, when I had a boss to report to!

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    1. I always give my best effort Red - my problem has been in how self-critical I am. Even when I've given over and above I still question whether there was more I could have done. Now I'm learning to be satisfied with my best and leaving it at that.

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  9. I always try to do my best and then don't sweat it if it's not perfect. Life is too short.

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    1. I think you have it figured out just right Rebecca - enough but not too much!

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  10. Another great instalment Leanne, you speak wise words. I know what you mean about being tired and unwell having an affect on how we do our best. I've been struggling lately too but keep trying to give my best. Sometimes it's enough and other times not but that's just how the cookie crumbles :)

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    1. You're right about the cookie crumbling all over the place at times Deb - but I think Midlife teaches us that it's not the end of the world when we don't get things exactly right - tomorrow is another day and we'll try, try again :)

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  11. Hi Leanne, I like to think one of my strengths is that I always try my best, however, I've changed my perception of what my best is. In the past, I was so hard on myself but now realise that on any given day or for any given task, my best is not always the same. As you said, sometimes if we are tired it is different thank if we are sparking on all fours. As you know I recently ran a full marathon. It took longer than I had wanted but instead of beating myself up, I congratulated myself that at 2 weeks away from 61, I had just run 42.2kms and finished it with a smile. It is a matter of knowing that you are enough and really deep inside we know if we have given our best or not, don't we? Have a beautiful weekend and I can't believe your series is finished - where did the month go? xx

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    1. I can't believe September has just arrived Sue - and Spring along with it (hurray!!) I also am still completely amazed that you ran 42kms - your staying power and physical fitness are such an admirable part of the example you set for the rest of us!

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  12. I try to give it my best shot whenever I can. Sometimes however, life does get you down and I've realised that that's okay too. Thanks for bringing us this series. I have started reading the book and truly enjoying it.

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    1. I'm glad you're enjoying the book Suzy and I think you're right about giving things your best shot - that's all life really asks of us isn't it?

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  13. Hi Leanne. I have enjoyed this series and especially appreciate this post. Your point about how your best changes based on how things are going in your life is especially dear to my heart. When I was younger and more physically fit, I could do so much more. Before my husband got cancer and my youngest began having trouble did to autism and mental health problems I was able to handle life so much better. It is discouraging, but then I remember that I'm doing the best that I can. Bless you!

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    1. Heather I think you're doing an amazing job juggling all the challenges life has dealt you. Every time I pop over to read something on your blog I'm impressed with all that you're achieving - and you can even write books! (small envious sigh from me)

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  14. It is a million times easier for me to give my all when I’m well-rested. Case in point today – I’m a tired, slow employee. Two nights of odd dreams (clearly my brain is processing something!) have left me a bit behind. But that happens.

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    1. After a couple of bad night's sleep I'm certainly a long way from my best Vanessa - my tolerance levels drop and my patience slides slowly South!

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  15. Just the post I needed today, Leanne! Did you know that just reading your subheadings got me fired up and motivated? The final thought about looking back in awe at achievements rather than with regret at what might have been is so very true. It's something I've decided to keep aspiring to.

    SSG xxx

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it SSG - I loved the 4 Agreements and it's nice to know they're resonating with others :)

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  16. I loved this and I loved reading Brene Brown's Rising Strong when she has the realisation (after a LOT of judgement directed at others) that "we need to believe each of us is doing the best we can at this time" I have kind of paraphrased it but it has stopped me from being judgemental because that was not something that I admired in me. Thanks for linking up this week for #lifethisweek Next week's optional prompt is Travel Tips. Denyse

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  17. Life gets hard sometimes, which can seem like most of the time. It is also hard sometimes to realise that doing your best REALLY is good enough. Everyone thinks so, but we can be our worst critic :)

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  18. That is all we can expect of ourselves and others... just do your best. I believe the rest will then work out.

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