I have this ideal version of myself in my head.
This ideal person wakes up at 5:30 am, meditates, drinks an iced latte in my spotless kitchen while my son sleeps for a little more. I do some work on Tend, and when he wakes up, naturally, around 7:00 am. We spend some time hanging out, and he calmly gets dressed with no fuss, in the clothes I chose for him, and we get to daycare around 8:30 am; he kisses me goodbye, tells me he loves me and then runs into his wonderful kaiako's arms, happy as larry. I arrive at work with time to get another coffee and catch up on the world and calmly stroll into my 9 am meeting, where I deliver great insights and solve the world's problems with ease.
In reality? The complete opposite. I wake at around 5:30 am with my son's feet kicking me in the face; he gets up grumpy demanding milk and mummy's phone, we argue about what he's going to do that day (it's NEVER Chipmunks), we struggle into daycare around 8:45 am, and he screams and clings, and then tells me he hates me for leaving him. I arrive at work late for my 9 am meeting, with half a pancake stuck to my blazer and no real concept of what I'm meant to be doing. It's a time.
I've always divided these days into two things: sometimes I'm onto it, and other times I've survived it. But something that came across my radar recently was the concept of situational best.
Situational best means that you take into account all the shit that you have no control over and react the best you can.
It means that you're adaptable, flexible, and resilient, letting yourself off the hook when shit is hard, and nothing is working. It's giving the best of your abilities based on your abilities at that time.
It's also a way to show yourself some grace. You are a living person, with shit going on in your life, and look, there's SO MUCH going on in the world right now, we're all feeling a lil crazy. But being compassionate and kind to yourself, showing yourself the grace you show others, gives you more resilience to cope with it all.
Not going to lie; it can be tough to do this. We need to override the negative voice and remind ourselves we're doing the best we can with what we have.
So, where do you start?
Redefine your best
What does being your best self mean? Think practically here. Giving 100% to everything in your life probably won't work. So what will work? What's a good best life for you right now in the situation you're in? Right now, my life is imploding a bit, and I'm not able to give much 80%, let alone 100%. I'm choosing to be ok giving some areas 50%, some areas 80% and committing 100% to my son and his wellbeing. One way to do this is to ask yourself some questions - so grab your journal!
- What are the things you need to be at your best? What of those are you prioritising?
- What's slipping that you wish wasn't?
- What could slip without too much angst if needed?
By thinking through the things that matter, you can take back some control and set yourself up for a bit more success.
Treat yourself like you would treat a friend
We often have huge expectations of ourselves - I know that I want Tend to be successful and change the world, and I want that right now damn it. But living up to that right now isn't possible. So instead, I think about what my BFF Lizzie says. She's proud of me and what I'm doing, and so when I hear myself thinking, "I should just stop doing Tend", I also listen to her reminding me of how far I've come since starting it.
Be aware of what you're asked to do.
Be mindful of the load and what you're capable of as a normally functioning person. You are not superhuman. We all get a shit ton of stuff done, and in the wise words of Emily Writes, we're just fucking doing it. But sometimes, there will be cracks, and things will slip. That's ok. It's ok to be a normal human.
Acknowledge where you are
There's power in acknowledging what you're dealing with—and that's the art of embracing your situational best. It's about noticing the factors at play (like sleep, extra pressure, even just a cranky mood) and accepting they'll impact your "best" on that given day. Maybe you recognise that you didn't get a ton of sleep last night and save some critical thinking tasks for tomorrow. Or, you might note your nerves from a tough phone call and take a few minutes to go for a head-clearing walk. Accepting what you're experiencing can prompt positive actions, and you view yourself with more compassion.