There are some days when I feel nearly invincible. On those days, nothing can distract me. Everything seems to fall perfectly into place and all my actions look and feel effortless. If I’m lucky, I get one or two days like this each month, and I enjoy every minute of them.
On the flip side, there are days that just feel like a sucker punch to the stomach. On those days, everything distracts me, and I feel like I’m wearing shoes that are two sizes too small. Nothing works as expected, and I can barely get up the effort to watch mindless YouTube videos. Thankfully, these days are about as rare as my very best ones.
There is no such thing as an average day in my life, but it’s safe to say that most of my days don’t fall anywhere near these two extremes. They are a mixture of good and bad, and consist mostly of a delicate balancing act between states of flow and diversion. These days can be productive, but aren’t especially memorable.
There isn’t anything special about this breakdown of good days, bad days, and those in between. It’s probably similar to how most people feel. No one feels amazingly productive all the time, and if they do, they’re probably delusional. The thing I realized today though, is that I ignore this natural pattern all the time, to my own disadvantage.
When I look at what I accomplished in any given day, I always tend to compare it to what I’ve accomplished on my best of days. This makes the vast majority of my experiences feel lackluster, and my darker moments feel truly like hell. Instead, what I should be asking myself is: “What is the best I can do today?”
This is a subtle shift in perspective, but one that I think could really make a difference. By recognizing the kind of day I’m having, I can choose to set my standards accordingly. On my best of days, perhaps I should be pushing myself even harder. Why shoot for the moon when I can shoot for the stars? On the worst days, well… maybe I can just write an essay instead of playing MineCraft all day.
That’s the best I could do today, what about you?
Written by Gregory Brown on 24 August 2011. If you enjoyed this essay, please share it with your friends.