When I first came upon this inspirational quote, “Do what you can with what you have where you are,” I stopped and pondered how ridiculous it sounded. I even scrolled past it.
I really thought there might have been an error in the wording. But then I came back to it. Again and again. Pondering the simple words and potentially complex meaning.
Before long, I became curious about who made this statement and from what context. I also wondered when the quote was said and what was going on in the world at the time. So after some research, I determined this is a profound quote that needs to be shared more — “do what you can with what you have where you are.”
So here I am writing about it because it speaks volumes about personal growth, wellness, mindset, happiness, and self love — all the topics I write about on Sassy Sister Stuff. It should be my new motto for living my best life! And it should be at the top of my inspirational quotes list!
Do What You Can With What You Have Where You Are
Where did this quote come from? What exactly does it mean? And who originally said these words?
It seems there is some confusion about the origin of this quote. Often it is falsely attributed to Theodore Roosevelt.
However, it seems appears Roosevelt quoted Squire Bill Widener of Virginia when he used this quote in chapter IX of Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography (first published in 1913). Roosevelt attributes the quote to Squire Bill Widener in the book. But over the years, it has been mistakenly published as Teddy Roosevelt’s words.
These words were originally said in the mid- to late-1800’s or early 1900’s. Once I learned more about Squire Bill Widener, I was fairly certain his words were as profound as I thought.
Squire Bill was a prominent community figure, Confederate solder, Sunday School Superintendent, Justice of the Peace, spiritual advisor, and teacher. With credentials like that, I was fairly certain he was a very smart man.
It turns out, Squire Bill was a friend of President Theodore Roosevelt and this is how Roosevelt knew these brilliant words of wisdom!
Now that we have that mystery solved, I am going to break down this quote and help you see how important it is to your life!
What Does Do What You Can With What You Have Where You Are Mean?
Theodore Roosevelt said that the quote summed up one’s duty in life. I think of it as a motivational quote that inspires me to remember that perspective is everything and we have choices in life. We can choose the way we respond to things and we can choose our point of view.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the meaning…
Why is this Quote Important to Your Life?
This simple inspirational quote encompasses so many different aspects of living your best life and becoming the person you are meant to be — personal growth, wellness, happiness, positivity, mindset, choices — and so much more.
Use these tips to help you navigate through life in a manner that brings you peace, happiness, and fulfillment. Maybe even post Squire Bill Widener’s inspirational and motivational quote some place where you can see it often and SMILE:)
1. Accept There Are Things You Cannot Control
These are just some things that you cannot control — but you can control how you choose to react to things that happen around you.
You can get angry or stressed about life and waste your energy on complaining, or you can pick yourself up and get on with life when something happens that isn’t part of your plan.
Hint: Life is going to GO ON, so you might as well GO ON with it, too! You may just have to be flexible and shift your mindset a bit!
You can choose to be a victim of circumstances or you can choose to be a conqueror of mindset. Which are you going to be?
2. Stop Making Excuses
Sometimes it’s simply impossible to “get” what you need or want at the moment. Don’t let that become an excuse for inaction. Sometimes you have to make do with what you have — plain and simple.
Use what you have available to you now to keep pushing forward to the next phase of your life rather than STOP. Don’t let something that seems impossible at the moment become an excuse for why you’re not making your dream happen down the road.
You’re just not making your dream happen AT THIS MOMENT… just keep moving forward… keep trying… with what you have in front of you right now.
This quote strips away every excuse imaginable for not doing something. You are one step further away from your goals every time you find an excuse for not moving forward.
3. Don’t Let Anything Stop You
Develop and maintain your personal goals, aspirations, and achievements and don’t let anything stop you from trying to attain them.
You can find an excuse around every corner for not attaining your goals — but if you keep a positive mindset and BELIEVE that you can meet your goals, you’ll be on the right path toward becoming the person you are meant to be.
If you let something STOP you, where will you be headed? Think about Disney’s Dory… “Just keep swimming!”
4. Life is All About Moving Forward
When you hit a roadblock, you can ask yourself, “Why does this always happen to me?” or “What’s wrong with me?” These self-limiting questions are not productive. They are not going to give you any positive results that will help achieve your goals.
You have to remember, everyone faces obstacles. It’s not just you. There is no time to feel sorry for yourself. Instead, ask yourself questions that will help you move forward in life. For example:
- How can I use this situation/challenge/opportunity to my advantage?
- What lessons can I learn from this circumstance?
- What can I do differently to help me succeed?
5. Small Steps Help You Success
Sometimes you get caught up in the obstacles and find yourself stuck. It’s difficult to move forward. But it’s important to do what you can do, and take those small steps toward your goals.
Once you stop, it’s going to be harder to start moving forward again. But every little baby step helps move you along your journey of life and helps you become the person you are meant to be. You can choose to STOP, but it’s not going to get your anywhere, right?
So remember that even the SMALL STEPS will propel you FORWARD in your journey! When you’re tired, weak, or frustrated — keep thinking about even the smallest steps you can take. You might be moving at a snail’s pace, but at least you will be moving:)
6. You Do Not Have to be Perfect
Everyone faces challenges of wanting to “wait until I’m ready” or “wait until the time is right” or “wait until whatever.” We all run into those times of frustrations, fears, and doubts. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need everything to be perfect before you start something. Or you need everything perfect to be able to move forward. Life doesn’t work like that.
Just START. Move FORWARD.
With every single step you take, you are becoming more perfect and learning more about the person you are meant to become. So don’t waste time waiting for everything to be perfect — remember progress over perfection every time!
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7. Live a Life True to Yourself
Don’t pretend you are someone you are not. Don’t live for others. Don’t wait to become someone else. Live a life that is true to the person you are RIGHT NOW. Live a life that speaks to your heart and soul. Do what makes you happy and fulfilled now — with what you have, where you are.
You are going to change over time. Your “do what you can” and “what you have” and “where you are” is going to change along your journey — so live each moment of your life in the present. Don’t wait for something that may or may not come your way.
Grab what you have in life and make the most of it — while being true to yourself! Every. Single. Day.
8. The Grass Isn’t Always Greener on the Other Side — Be Grateful
In today’s society, it’s easy to make comparisons and begin to think the grass might be greener on the other side. Be careful with this way of thinking.
Instead, you need to appreciate and focus on what you can do, what you have, and where you are in life. This way, you can make it the strongest and best life possible rather than wasting time and energy on comparisons.
Build upon what you do have rather than what you do not have. Develop a mindset of gratitude and positivity. Comparisons do not help anyone move forward in their journey through life.
9. Forgive and Forget the Past
This one is rather simple — forget about anything or anyone who has derailed you on your journey in the past because all that matters now is the present. Stay strong, stay confident, stay positive.
Keep a healthy mindset. Let go of regrets and anger. Everything from your past has played a part if your reality today. Either get over it, or be thankful. But move along on your journey. It’s a waste of time and energy to dwell on the past.
Final Thoughts: Do What You Can With What You Have Where You are
My educator brain tells me there should be commas in that sentence. Yep! “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” is the way it should be written. But the Internet and Google don’t always play nice with punctuation so I’m going to skip the commas and make it easier on all of us.
I also want to mention that several variations of this quote have developed through the years. Many of which are also incorrectly attributed to Theodore Roosevelt. You may see or hear:
~ “Do what you can where you are, with what you have.”
~ “Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.”
They are all derived from the original quote by Squire Bill Widener. But it’s really more important for us to remember the meaning behind the words, right?
I hope you use these 9 tips to reflect on your life choices, actions, and mindset about how you want to live your life. We all just want to be successful and happy.
Use these simple words to help you remember how to build a life of happiness and success.
Did something resonate with you in this article? Do you think the quote, “do what you can with what you have where you are” is powerful? Will you let this quote guide your decisions and mindset in the future? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below:)
Thanks for being here! I appreciate you!
Love to ALL! ~ Susan