Whatever your role, do your best

"What e'er thou art, act well thy part." Recognizing and prioritizing your roles in order to fill them to the best of your ability.

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  • "What e'er thou art, act well thy part." The easy translation of Shakespeare's message: Whatever you do in life, do it well. It’s a simple enough phrase to understand, but in our modern society, the execution of this message is not as easy as it reads.

  • Why? We have so many roles to fill these days. Take an average mom, for example. The Peggy Bundy TV image of a self-indulgent woman eating bon bons on the couch is simply not reality. In today’s world, many mothers work outside the home in some way. So we’ve got a typical "Mom". She’s also a daughter, a sister, a wife. She’s someone’s best friend. She’s a school volunteer. Each one of these roles itself is doable. But, once you pile them on one person’s shoulders, the expectation on doing our best in all roles can result in extreme pressure and stress. Not to mention overwhelming feelings of incompetence.

  • Shakespeare's quote was written at a much simpler time, but it's still relevant. Don’t we still want to be the best we can be? To be seen, at the end of our lives, as someone who worked diligently to accomplish our goals?

  • Parents, in particular, have something to prove here. As a parent, one of my most important jobs is to teach my kids to try hard in everything they do — not to win or be at the top of the class, but to try their best. I can speak this message to my kids every day but without action, my words are have no impact. It goes back to the phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do.” That doesn’t work. Your child will look at your behavior and mimic it — just as they did when they were toddlers. This will continue into adulthood, even when they don’t realize that they are doing it.

  • The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics gives a great example: "A child praised for her intellectual competence by parents who read books and display a curiosity about the world is more likely to value intellectual pursuits than one whose parents praise academic success but do not display any interest in intellectual competence in their personal lives. Children tend to honor what parents do rather than what they say."

  • So let’s look at how we can take this important message and implement it in today’s hectic world. The first point to remember is that “doing your best” is not the same as “doing it perfectly.” Strive for perfection and you will be disappointed. Strive to do your best and you will be satisfied.

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  • Prioritize your roles

  • One way to do your best in this busy world is to prioritize your roles and their individual goals. Start by writing down your three most important roles. I’ll use myself as an example:

    • Mother

    • Wife

    • Business owner

  • Categorize your performance

  • Next, take each role and break it into three categories:

    • What I do well

    • What I want to improve

    • What I can let go

  • Our goal here is to determine the specific areas in our lives where it’s important to do our best. If you try to be a super hero in everything you do, you will fall short. It’s simply unrealistic. Find the key areas where you as a Mother (or an employee, or a wife) can have the most impact and do your best there.

  • Here’s what mine looks like in the role of Mother, which is at the top of my priority list:

  • What I do well

  • These are things that you already do well and are in alignment with your goals. Keep working hard to do your best here.

    • Home-cooked family meals.

    • Healthy lifestyle.

    • Teaching my children respect and responsibility.

  • What I want to improve

  • These are things that you know are important, but you may have to alter your behavior to attain them. Or, as the quote says, “do well thy part.”

    • Showing my children that I trust their judgment, thereby increasing their self-esteem.

    • Allowing my children to take risks, and to fail (I know they will learn from these instances, but the overprotective Mom in me tends to step in before they are allowed to make the mistake).

    • Being “present” with my children. Stepping away from my computer or phone to really listen and watch.

  • What I can let go

  • These are things that you feel are not vital to doing a good job in your role. We must be able to let some things go in order to focus our attention on the more important parts of our role.

    • Housecleaning perfection.

    • Keeping up with the Jones’ kids.

    • Volunteering at school. (Is this important to me? Yes, it is. Is it in alignment with my goals? Yes, it is. Can I trust some of the other mothers, who may not also have a business to run on the side, to take care of this? Yes, I can. Because I can’t do it all and still be a good Mom.)

  • Do this exercise for the top roles in your life and you will have a short list of priorities to focus on. Then, breathe, and try to let the rest go.

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Robin is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Founder/Creative Director of Ella Jean Inc., a line of baby gifts sold in boutiques across the United States. She's passionate about parenting and loves to research/write about family, healthy lifestyle, travel, style for moms, and many more issues. She lives with her husband and two daughters on the Coast of North Carolina.

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