Do The Best You Can, Dummy

I’ve been living under a new mantra these days, and as obvious as it’s going to sound, I’m still gonna share it with you anyways ;) Mainly because it’s Friday and I want you to go into the weekend feeling good about yourselves than the opposite.

Today’s topic is about accomplishing your goals. Or, rather, not giving up on your goals.

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

  • You get super excited to accomplish _____.
  • You make it a priority and get all hardcore about it!
  • You last an entire month without slipping up at all
  • Then one day you DO slip up and you cry a little inside
  • You make up for it the following day, and now you’re back on track again…
  • Until you slip up again.
  • Then one day becomes two, two days become three, and eventually you’ve given up entirely.
  • But hey, you “gave it a shot!”

If you set New Year’s Resolutions, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about :) How are those going by the way?

I call this the “all or nothing” mentality. The second your slip ups go into two-day territory it all becomes a downhill spiral, making you feel more and more like a big fat dummy wondering why everyone else has their $hit together but you. But here’s a hint: they don’t. They only put the GOOD stuff on Facebook.

Now I’ve done this with my money, I’ve done this with my projects, and most recently I’ve done this almost done this with my health.

Well, I’m here to tell you there’s been a new revolutionary strategy invented. It’s called:

“Do the best you can, dummy!”

Where you, *ahem*, do the best you can and not give up. Because when you give up you get zilch in return and ANYTHING is better than zilch, unless we’re talking about STDs (and I’m pretty sure we’re not talking about STDs, are we? Am I accidentally posting on again?).

Here are the rules to the game:

  1. You genuinely do the best that you can
  2. You adapt to life’s curve balls and only cry a little about it
  3. You don’t berate yourself for not accomplishing everything like a Mr./Mrs. perfect goody two-shoes
  4. And, most importantly, you DON’T GIVE UP

I’ve been following this strategy for three months now, and I can assure you it’s been a much more rewarding experience than simply going big or going home. It feels a little like winning a 3rd place ribbon, if you will. It’s not quite the best place to come in, but it’s a helluva lot better than getting “honorable mention” ;) And your parents will still buy you an ice cream cone later.

If you recall, my personal resolutions for 2014 were to cut out sugar and salt, and start exercising more to manage my blood pressure. So I set out to exercise every single day for at least 30 mins (hah!), check my blood pressure daily (worked for a good 3 months), stop eating stuff with massive amounts of salt in it (extremely hard), and then cut out my sugar intake (easier than salt, but still pretty hard).

For two months I was pretty solid, giving myself high fives every other second, but then the “slippage” started happening… First I missed a day or two cuz of work loads, then I skipped a week cuz I was feeling pissed off about it all and just wanting to give up, and then we had our 2nd beautiful baby boy and you can only guess what happened next. I gave up on everything entirely, until one day I snapped out of it and realized I needed to jump back on the ship. If for nothing else but my family.

Here’s what my “do the best you can, dummy!” habits look like now:

  • Work out 1-3 times a week, whatever I can pull off
  • Stop obsessing about the sodium levels on every package of yummy food and just cut back (Also NEVER eat at Taco Bell again – do you know how bad that place is for you??)
  • Stop wondering how many spoonfuls of sugar I should eat daily, and instead limit my portions. (Though I have stopped putting it into my coffee every day and surprisingly don’t miss it a bit!)
  • Enjoy a more stress-free, semi-healthier, lifestyle

“Semi-healthier” because I still have a long way to go in this area, but again, doing a few things every week vs NOTHING is much better in the long run. And I think that’s the part most of us miss. We get so dang down on ourselves, that “doing just a little” doesn’t seem quite worth it. We want to win the whole freakin’ race, and we want to be doing it now!

Perhaps this new strategy comes off as being complacent, it could be, but again when you compare it to the alternative of giving up it seems like a world of a difference. Kinda like when some of y’all got mad at me for drinking bottled water a few years back, even though it was the only method that got me to drink it. You told me to “just drink tap water – it’s free!” and “you’re being bad to the environment – stop it!” which were all indeed valid points, however after 30 years of trying all kinds of tricks and tips it just wasn’t happening. So I had to ask myself if drinking 0 glasses of water a day to save money was better than ultimately being healthy. And I bet you can guess which route I took.

(I’ll have you know, however, that I DID finally find a solution that solves all problems going forward! I’ll be blogging about that soon – I’m pretty psyched about it :))

So. All this to say that it’s OK not be perfect with every single goal you set. If you’re having trouble saving that $1,000 for your E-Fund, or nixing your $3,000 of credit card debt, that’s all fine and normal – just don’t entirely give up!! Continue stashing $10 here and paying off $20 there when possible, and if you happen to cross a nice streak of fortune down the road (whether mentally or financially), you can tweak your plan from there. Just never ever give up!

So please, bring back those goals of yours you set in January and let’s get this party started again! Only this time try simply doing what you can, dummy. No more going hardcore and burning out in the end. DOING SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING!

//End motivational speech
/// Goes to grab sugar-free coffee and check his blood pressure

[Photo cred: Jonny Hughes]

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    1. J. Money June 21, 2014 at 4:15 PM

      Good! Just remember you’re awesome and not super man. And being awesome is much much better, believe me :)

  1. John @ Wise Dollar June 20, 2014 at 8:02 AM

    Thanks for the motivation today J! This is perfect going into the weekend…especially after a week of being slammed with work! I think all too often we beat ourselves up for not knocking it out of the park on each and every goal. It’s understandable, on one level I guess, but don’t let your lack of grand success cause you to give up altogether. I’d much rather hit that third place than to not accomplish anything. :)

    1. J. Money June 21, 2014 at 4:15 PM

      3rd place is underrated ;)

  2. Alicia @ Financial Diffraction June 20, 2014 at 8:11 AM

    This is something I’ve really been dealing with lately. I started out strong and now I’m waning, but I’ve been saying “something is better than nothing” a lot to make myself feel a bit better about not making my overly ambitious goals. I’ll pick up my feet a little bit more now!

  3. Shannon @ Financially Blonde June 20, 2014 at 8:25 AM

    For some reason, the entire time I was reading this, the theme song to Just the Ten of Us was playing in my head. “Doing it the best I can.” It was great advice from a TGIF show in the 90s and it still is today. I used to not set goals because I had such a fear of failure, but then I realized that it was more important to set goals to keep me motivated and working towards something. Just because you don’t reach those goals as fast or as much as you would like, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep striving for them.

    1. J. Money June 21, 2014 at 4:17 PM

      Exactly. You always have to dream, but you also always have to have that plan in order to GET to that dream. And if you don’t do a thing you’ll just be a wannabe dreamer like half the rest of the world… anyone can dream!

    1. J. Money June 21, 2014 at 4:18 PM


  4. Ben @ The Wealth Gospel June 20, 2014 at 9:21 AM

    Good stuff, J! I’ve been on again off again lately with exercising. It’s freaking hard when you’re working your butt off with work and hustling on the side. But I like your tips. It’s not about perfection, it’s about being sexy. ;)

    1. J. Money June 21, 2014 at 4:18 PM

      It’s not always easy being sexy ;)

  5. Stephanie June 20, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    I’m with John on this one. Work has been a nasty beeootch and I’ve all but given up running. Never mind healthy eating. But today I start one week of road tripping with my baby bro and his family. And it’s going to be my rejuvenation time. Halfway through the year with time to tweak or re-examine my goals. Getting myself back on track and understanding that work is for now a necessity which gets priority will help me ease off the self criticism while setting more realistic goals for the next six months. I needed this today J$$$. Thanks

    1. J. Money June 21, 2014 at 4:21 PM


  6. Free To Pursue June 20, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    “They only put the GOOD stuff on Facebook.”

    This post of yours is a new, non-monetary “keeping up with the Jonese” reality check. :)

    I completely agree that when we think others are perfect in some aspect of their lives, it only means we don’t have the full story.

  7. Tricia Kolsto June 20, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    What a great article. It is so nice to know I am not the only one this happens too. Your article was very inspiring. Thank you so much!

    1. J. Money June 21, 2014 at 4:21 PM

      So glad to hear! Thanks for taking the time to tell me so – made my day!

  8. EL June 20, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    Right on J. we should do our best and never regret a slip up to the point where you stop striving for a better future. Didn’t expect to read one of these today, and it does make you change your thought process a bit. Keep the great nuggets of advice coming our way.

  9. Crystal June 20, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    I’m a huge fan of this mantra. My husband and I generally make the goal to spend less on food each month, then we slip, then we stop worrying about it, then we hit it again hardcore. This time, we’re doing our best, but even if we slip up, we’re not going to stop tracking. We want to spend less long-term.

  10. Christine @ The Pursuit of Green June 20, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    Great Friday post as a picker upper! It’s going to be a great weekend now! Haha.

    I’ve been trying to exercise and eat healthier a lot too! Have slipped a bunch already but I’m plugging along slowly!

  11. E.M. June 20, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    So true! An all or nothing approach is basically like asking for failure. I’ve been coming to terms with this throughout the year and realized that baby steps are the way to go (for me). Change isn’t going to happen instantly, and we can’t beat ourselves up over it. Giving it our best try in whatever form we can is certainly better than doing nothing about it.

    1. J. Money June 21, 2014 at 4:22 PM

      The little wins help motivate you to keep going too – a lot of times it’s all in our heads :)

  12. Even Steven June 20, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    Always nice to have a little Friday pick me up, get off you arse and do something!

  13. aj June 20, 2014 at 3:40 PM

    Oh how right you are! The all-or-nothing mentality is my biggest nemesis!!

    This reminds me of FlyLady ( who, along with J$, is one of my fave bloggers.
    She has built quite a following & she always reminds her FlyBabies to take babysteps, and how perfection is the enemy. Progress not Perfection was one of her mantra’s that I continually tell myself.

    Really almost everyone who has become famous or successful has done so because they kept trying, trudging along, making progress…and eventually they get there. We don’t hear about all of their trials and struggles…but nothing good happens overnight (unless you play the Powerball ??)

    We are too hard on ourselves then we give up. FlyLady is centered around FLYing – Finally Loving Yourself – first and then you are in a better mental (and physical) state to take on the rest.

    Yep, when you don’t know where to start – Just do the best you can Dummy! definitely works!!

    1. J. Money June 21, 2014 at 4:25 PM

      Yeah FlyLady! I check her stuff out about once a year every time someone mentions her :) So I guess now’s my reminder to do it again! Haha…. Keep living the FLY life.

  14. Kristin @ Brokepedia June 20, 2014 at 5:58 PM

    Awww yeah. Thanks for the inspiration (and reminder about my New Year’s goals), J. And hooray for ice cream cones!

  15. Jen @ Jen Spends June 20, 2014 at 8:52 PM

    Timely article for me. I resolved to blog at least once per week and had been doing great up until June hit, and I’ve totally fallen off the wagon. Nicer weather, end of school craziness, etc. has just about done me in! Hoping I can get back into the swing of things this weekend.

    I am definitely my own worst enemy, and often get caught up in the “all or nothing” mentality. It’s a hard habit to break, but so important to do so.

  16. Marie @ Grad Money Matters June 21, 2014 at 1:52 AM

    It is really wonderful to live a healthy lifestyle. :) I work out for 4-5 times a week. It is my great way to lose my stress. And I have effectively lose weight for less than 2 weeks. :)

  17. Dave @ The New York Budget June 21, 2014 at 8:51 AM

    My personal goal for working out is similar in that it is all about ways to make sure I don’t give up. I try to go to the gym 5 days a week. Sometimes it is only 4, but even if I miss a day, I don’t fall off the tracks because my approach is to only go for a short time and avoid killing myself at the gym.

    I set the barrier very low, so it’s easy to say, “sure, I’ll head to the gym for 30/45 minutes – it’s not that long and it’ll be fun/not too hard, even if I am feeling lazy right now”.

    For me, the strategy has definitely worked better than any other.

    1. J. Money June 21, 2014 at 4:26 PM

      it’s def. easier to win when you set the bar lower! haha… love it.

  18. Mark June 21, 2014 at 9:26 PM

    You should check out Scott Adam’s systems vs goals articles. It sounds a lot like this.

    1. J. Money June 24, 2014 at 9:35 PM

      okay – will google in a few!

  19. Agatha June 21, 2014 at 11:14 PM

    Hey J!

    My resolution was to live on 50% of my income — and so far this year (touch wood) I’m winning at it :) in other things though, I definitely slide into nothing — so this was a great article to remind me that there is a middle ground.


    1. J. Money June 24, 2014 at 9:36 PM

      wow 50% is sexy though!!! at least you’re winning big there! :)

  20. No Nonsense Landlord June 21, 2014 at 11:42 PM

    Having a realistic goal is a great step. Sometimes, it’s better to start small and accomplish them in realistic steps.

  21. Addison @ Cashville Skyline June 22, 2014 at 1:51 PM

    I was just feeling bad about consuming some Goldfish brand macaroni & cheese (yes, really). Haha. I’ve epically failed on my health and fitness goals every month since the start of this year, but I totally making progress this month! Great post.

    1. J. Money June 24, 2014 at 9:39 PM

      Funny, I just treated myself to a handful of golfish cracker thingies :)

  22. Kevin June 23, 2014 at 7:13 AM

    There are so many good points in this article. And all SO true; especially the part about people only put the *good* stuff up on Facebook! Thanks; I needed this!

  23. B.C. Kowalski June 23, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    You know, I have been preaching this strategy about fitness for years, and I apply it to my fiction writing as well. It’s nice to see it applied to other areas of life as well.

    In fitness, I tell people who try to work out three times per week and miss a couple of workouts per month. That’s still 10 workouts out of 12 workouts – much better than zero! I tell people don’t do make-ups, because they’ll build up. Just do the next one. That can be applied to so many things…

    1. J. Money June 24, 2014 at 9:40 PM

      “I tell people don’t do make-ups, because they’ll build up. Just do the next one. ” – YES!!! Hard as hell to be okay with, but agreed all the way it’s much better in the end.

  24. Tonya@Budget and the Beach June 23, 2014 at 4:40 PM

    Love this post J! I see this all the time when it comes to exercising. People get all hung-ho and come up with come kind of crazy plan that is pretty hard even for the avid exerciser. And one slip up and bang, they are done. I try to approach most things in a “do the best you can” way nowadays. I like my goals, but even if I don’t rock it totally, at least I’ve done something. For example when I trained for a half marathon. I visualized myself running the whole thing looking awesome, but even though I trained for 3 months and followed running plans, I still had to walk some of the half. Disappointed? Not even close! I still can’t believe I set that goal and followed through, even though the outcome looked a lot different than the one in my head when I started. :) BTW, even though I work out and eat healthy, I still have slightly elevated blood pressure. So now I’ve been really working on reducing stress. Good luck with yours!

    1. J. Money June 24, 2014 at 9:42 PM

      Oh man, and you’re SO much more active than me! Guess we all have problems to work on, eh? Congrats on finishing that marathon – just the sound of it gives me the creepers, haha…

  25. debt debs June 23, 2014 at 5:58 PM

    Great motivational speech! Are you like our camp counselor or something?

    Plus you’re funny, ay? You know that?
    “Am I accidentally posting on “” again?” hee hee

    1. J. Money June 24, 2014 at 9:42 PM

      Gotta keep y’all reading somehow! :)

  26. Amy June 23, 2014 at 10:47 PM

    This is a great attitude, and I completely agree that it’s a much effective way of achieving most goals.

  27. Iza Grek July 21, 2016 at 10:17 AM


    This sounds just like me. I start out with lots of energy and then fade, fade, fade…

    Please visit my blog at the above address.

    thanks a ton

    1. J. Money July 21, 2016 at 4:24 PM

      Sorry to hear :( Hopefully you keep going though and celebrate the parts you do accomplish!