(Listen to the Podcast version of this article here!)

Your happiness, your financial success, your dream relationship—everything you could possibly want in life boils down to the effort you’re willing to put in today. Period.

Because when you make daily progress towards the things that are important to you—prepare to be shocked and amazed at something totally new and unexpected—you’ll eventually get there!…


Doesn’t matter how long it takes.—You will reach your goals, if you consistently give your best. And even more important is that you’ll fall in love with the journey of continually becoming your best, which leads to a truly inspired life.

But most people get so overwhelmed with life that they forget these simple facts.

They forget that when they’re doing their best, that’s when they feel their best; and that making progress towards their goals feels better than achieving the goals themselves—because progress means growth…and growth is the only thing that you can keep.

They forget about the significance of their effort.

Maybe you’ve forgotten these things, too.

Maybe you’ve allowed yourself to feel powerless and controlled. Maybe you’ve let all your losses and failures overwhelm you.

Maybe you’re so worried about picking the perfect goals that you’re scared to take any action at all, and you’ve settled for feeling stuck.

Am I talking about you?

Because I know I’m talking about me. I know I’m talking about every person who’s ever done anything great—at least at one point in their lives.

It’s a fact:

We all feel disempowered sometimes, paralyzed, even, because life—is freaking—tough.

But the other fact of life is that you can handle it. You’re a human-goshdang-being with opposable-friggin’-thumbs and limitless potential for imagining, learning, and growing.

You’re amazing!!!

And when you end the day knowing you gave your absolute best, you will feel fucking amazing because you know that you overcame your excuses, that you grew, and that you have every reason to feel confident in yourself and your future.

So I want to help you start giving your best as a lifestyle. I want you to end the day by literally checking off a goal that says, ‘Do Your Freakin’ Best!’ –I’ll settle for ‘do your best,’ for you virgin-eared readers.

I want you to tap into the strength, happiness, self-esteem, and success that comes through giving your best to-day and every day.

Are you ready?

If you aren’t ready, I want to remind you of something…

You know that terrible feeling when you’ve allowed a negative mindset and distractions to keep you from doing anything, and you realize you pissed away an entire day? Think of how bad that feels. Then think of how horrendous it feels to look back on a wasted week—or, God forbid, a month.

Now, imagine how excruciating it would be to magnify that feeling by an entire lifetime…to know that your life amounted to nothing spectacular, that you didn’t really make a difference, and to realize that it was all your decision to not put in the effort, and to make excuses when you could’ve done your best?

I’m gonna let that sink in for 3.2 seconds—2, 3.2—and now I’m going to ask the scariest question:

If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, would you be satisfied with your effort, or would you pray to God for another chance to actually live?

Okay then. Well consider this you’re lucky day that you don’t actually have to rely on divine intervention to get a second chance. It’s here for the taking. And it’s available every single morning!!!

Create a lifestyle of doing your best…

Or continue to live a distracted life where you blame everything beyond your control for your lack of success.

What’s your decision?

(No, for real…WTF is your decision?)

So how can you adopt the BEST EFFORT lifestyle today?

  1. Get a blank-paged journal to use as a daily planner. Not the bullshit, ‘Here are 5 slots for gratitude’ confusing-ass planners. Just a blank-paged journal. Motherf^@%#&s.
  2. For each day, write down 3-8 realistic goals that you look at and think, “Let me get my ass-kicking boots on, now…” This usually includes creative goals, work goals, listening to a podcast or reading a book, and exercise goals. Put a checkbox next to each one so you can actually check them off. And give enough space between each goal so the page is neat looking – not confusing.2.1 If you haven’t picked a major life goal to work towards (like being a writer, graphic designer, etc. –do that now! (You don’t have to be absolutely sure what your passion is. As long as it’s not something overtly harmful, like becoming a full time rapist, advancing towards any goal can only give you clarity on what it really is you want to do. You just have to make daily progress…and do your best!)
  3. At the bottom corner of each planning page, write out the most important goal of all, including a fat-ass checkbox next to it:
    Your. Best.
  4. Turn off all notifications except your phone ringer, and schedule your text and email checks as actual goals in your daily planner—anywhere from one to four. (This way you’re not constantly distracted all day.)
  5. Don’t check emails/texts/articles or anything distracting until you’ve completed several hours of real work and learning. (This ‘best effort rule’ is sacred!) Break the habit of checking your phone and computer first thing. Instead, meditate, journal, plan out your day, exercise, read, and then get to work!
  6. Refer to your daily planner frequently and stick to the plan. Whenever you feel like distracting yourself, do something useful that’s on your list, or take an actual break and relax your mind. Woosah. Maybe go play. Or listen to music. –Just don’t f*cking distract yourself! Distractions are enemy #1 to your best effort!6.1 Go on a social media fast for two weeks, and limit it to no more than once per day thereafter.
  7. Plan for down time and relaxation: meditation should be a daily non-negotiable. This gives your mind a chance to unfocus and recharge so that you can continue giving your best effort towards your work/learning goals. It also gives you a creative edge that multiplies your productivity and and enhances your quality of work. I’ve found that 30 minutes of meditation daily can give me an extra 4-8 hours of real work. Seriously.
  8. When you’ve finished the day, and before you go to bed, take one look at your daily planner—more specifically, take a look at that fat-ass ‘Do Your Best’ checkbox. If you can reflect back on your efforts and honestly check that box, then check. that. box. If you can’t, then all you have to do is reflect on what prevented you from doing your best, and plan on either doing or not doing whatever it was. Promise yourself that you’ll do your best tomorrow. Get ready to come out swinging.
  9. Journal for 10 minutes, reflect on your day, and fully realize how much ass you kicked and how much effort you actually gave. (This is key for generating confidence and self-esteem, which spills into tomorrow, and ensures you give another best effort.) Also note where you can make improvements for tomorrow. Journaling, in my 5 years of self improvement, is e-friggin’-ssential for giving my best.
  10. Talk with someone once a week about your progress, your goals, and what it is that can take your effort up a notch so that you ensure your best effort next week. This could be a friend—friends are actually the best option, if they’re super motivated and down with the best effort lifestyle too. Or it could be a coach.


If you follow these steps, you’ll learn fast how to consistently give your best and start a lifelong competition of outdoing yourself and inspiring others to fucking badasses too. So actually give these steps a shot. You want to make a change? Go back and make some actions steps from this list of ten. Set some reminders. Buy a blank journal. Be serious about this…

(Remember the whole, ‘dying with excruciating regret thing?)

I swear, once you experience the personal satisfaction and the agency that comes through a genuine best effort, you’ll be hooked for life. And when you realize that you can pull those efforts off no matter how bad you feel or what poo life flings at you…

That’s when life becomes extraordinary, and when you’ll inspire others to live extraordinary, too.

Do. Your. Best


  • Daniel Dowling

    Performance Coach, Writer for Greatist, Fitbit.com, Mindbodygreen, and FastCompany.

    Dan Dowling, here. I was the poster child for lost millennials - couldn’t keep a job…addicted to relationships…constantly checking social media and email. But when I got hungry enough for success as a writer, I gave up my distracted lifestyle and adopted one daily goal that changed my life forever: Do. Your. Best. Today, five years later, I’m a productivity coach who’s published on the world’s biggest sites (including Entrepreneur, Fast Company and Mindbodygreen), and I’m transforming lives through the best-effort, zero-distraction lifestyle that worked so well for me. Come and and learn how to always give your best at Millennial Success!