When Doing Your Best Means Doing the Bare Minimum…

January 20, 2015 Updated: January 20, 2015

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 it’s been more than a little crazy and I’ve been more than a little stressed. I typically deal with stress appropriately, 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 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 lucky 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 miminum. 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 to myself to be better than my best. 

You guys 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 faith 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–no judgment, no shame, no beating myself up. I’m not ashamed to admit this to you, because at this stage in my life, I’m just not ashamed of anything.

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 children are fed, coffee is brewed, dishes are (mostly) done, emails are (mostly) answered, I move a little bit, and everyone knows I love them–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).


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 that so many of us fall victim to, 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. 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.

*Neghar Fonooni, fitness & lifestyle coach, entrepreneur *Founder: Eat, Lift, & be Happy negharfonooni.com