When you’re tired, low, stressed or upset, you’re still capable of a great many things. Unfortunately, something you’re rarely capable of in those instances is figuring out what you’re capable of. So instead, those days tend to just knock people out – you think you aren’t capable of anything because you can’t think of anything specific you’re capable of, so you just mulligan the whole day.
The next time you have a decent-to-good day, try this exercise: make a map of your own capabilities on the low days. Write out some clear, short instructions for yourself. Say, “These are the small but impactful things that I know I can do even on my worst days. If I have a bad day, I can do just these things and then that day will be a success, and I can step back from the rest without added guilt.”
Some days all you can do is water the plants, eat a healthy meal, and check your email. But it’s still better to do those things than not to do them. At the very least, you won’t be as mad at yourself the next day, and feeling guilty and angry at yourself is rarely productive.
You don’t have to be unrealistic and expect that you’ll be equally capable on every single day of your life. But a little bit is so so so much better than nothing, so give yourself a way to do a little bit, even on the worst days.