The Secret To Doing Your Best

Recently I have learned that I don’t have to be perfect, however it is important for me to always do my best, but no more and no less.

The secret to doing your best

The inspiring book, “The Four Agreements” reiterated this fact to me. The book explains that doing our best frees us from the self-limiting beliefs that rob us of our joy and personal freedom.

But, your best will never be the same from one moment to the next. Sometimes your best will be high quality, and other times it will not be as good. Your daily moods and activities will change your best from day to day.


Oftentimes conscientious people try too hard to do more than their best. Many artists fall into this trap, and I have been guilty of this myself.

Not only do we work hard, striving to improve our craft, but we also have to manage our businesses, pay the bills and support our families. Sometimes we think that doing more than our best will get us to our goals more quickly. But, this just isn’t true.

When we overdo, we exhaust our bodies and go against ourselves. In this state of mind we actually take longer to accomplish our goals and our work will suffer. Then we subject ourselves to self-judgment, frustration, and regrets.

How liberating would it be to end each day knowing that you did your best?

Doing your best isn’t about the reward. It is about the enjoyment in the action. It becomes a ritual. When you slow down and do your best, you will find enjoyment in whatever you are doing.

Well-known artists, Michael Workman and T. Allen Lawson have created the habit of always doing their best. They both create a ritual from the action of organizing their studios, setting up their palettes, preparing the painting supports, designing their compositions, to methodically laying in each brushstroke, these painters do their best.

It is a joy to watch them work. They may not always create a masterpiece, but they are content with doing their best in the moment.

You are not here to sacrifice your happiness. You are here to learn to accept yourself, and to learn from your mistakes without judgment. If you practice doing your best, you will become the master.


I hope you enjoyed this post. You can see my ‘best’ art at, and let’s meet on Facebook  Fine Art Tips Facebook Fan Page, on Twitter, Google Plus and on PinterestBe sure and check out and my fine art prints and notecards on Fine Art America.! ~Lori


  1. Pamela April 15, 2013 at 6:31 am

    Thank you Lori –

    Very well said! It is sometimes very difficult to walk away from the studio when we just need to push a little to reach a set goal for the day. What I have discovered over the years is that if I am working exhausted the outcome will definitely not my best work. So I have learned to walk away … sometimes not so easy!

    Thank you for your writing,

    • Lori McNee May 1, 2013 at 11:14 am

      Hi Pamela, yes knowing when to quit is a grace in itself. I am learning this! Thanks for adding your valuable thoughts.
      Lori 🙂

  2. Robert P. Britton, Jr. April 15, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Nice article, Lori. I do agree that we should do our best in creating our art. It’s important to know that our best today, is better than what we did before, but not as good as what we will do in the future.

    I do think that we do need to be pragmatic and internally evaluative of our paintings and skills so as to benefit from our growth and our journey. Being judgmental can be dangerous, a slippery slope. I think we need to encourage ourselves for the things that we are doing well, and carefully critical of those areas that still need improvement.

    But ultimately each blank panel before us should be attacked with the best effort we can give today, giving it our all, focusing on learning and always being open to do better.

    It use to be hard for me to accept making stinkers. But I’ve grown past that and understand that doing my best is truly the only way to grow and learn, and the stinkers are priceless opportunities to recognize what we need to improve upon.

    • Lori McNee May 1, 2013 at 11:06 am

      Great additional thoughts you have shared here Robert!

      I too have learned a lot from my ‘stinkers’ over the years. Although, I often paint over them! But, those duds can serve as our greatest art teachers.

      Happy painting,

  3. Laura Franke Parkhurst April 17, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    Thank so much for this post, Lori. I struggle with perfectionism and since I started to use my talents again 9 months ago, I stress over my ability to make quality work and get discouraged. I fear not ever being “good enough” to become a professional illustrator. I know in the end, I need to do my best and enjoy and accept what I do and who I am.

    • Lori McNee April 22, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      Hello Laura, sounds like you might suffer from the ‘good girl’ syndrome like I do! Always trying to please and to be perfect. Hopefully this post will give you permission to ‘do your best’ under the present circumstances.

      Enjoy the journey!

  4. The Portrait Artist April 18, 2013 at 6:28 am

    Thank you for the book recommendation, I’ll make sure to take a look at it as soon as it gets into my hands.

    The image you put at the top of the post is very inspiring. I will try to make myself a wallpaper with the Myth is Sisyphus and some sort of motivational message.

    • Lori McNee April 22, 2013 at 2:15 pm

      I think you will really enjoy this book. Yes, I thought the image was perfect to illustrate this post :).

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