More on why trying is bad

My cliff notes for “There is no try“, an especially closely-related follow up to the last post in this series:

When we are conscious of trying, the possibility of failure is implicit, and thus more likely than when instead we are in a mode where we’re simply going about our work, doing the most likely successful approach before we move on to the next most likely if necessary.

When we fail, the ability to say “well, I tried” is an excuse; being in “try” mode pre-determines that excuse will be within easy reach. When you are trying, doubt is on the table.

And ironically, again when failure is an option because trying may not work out, we can wear ourselves out focusing on the very hard work of not failing — instead of simply doing what success requires. This is like a person “trying sprint up and down a soccer field as much as they can, rather than the playing soccer”.

“I am trying X” is a answer to the question “What are you doing?” A better answer is a description of your specific action steps, or simply “I am doing X”.

Beware of faking it until you make it: If your dishonest answer to the question is “I’m doing”, then “I’m trying… but don’t know how” may serve you better in that situation. In this situation, it can be useful to reframe the question: If you’re trying to solve a big problem X that you’re barely able to grasp how to tackle, perhaps you can instead be doing the first small activity you’ve thought of that you hope will take you in a production direction. Label your actions with granularity.

Spending a few weeks refusing to use the word “try” is useful exercise to shift into this mindset. Force yourself to substitute the concrete actions you are taking, instead.

This post is part of the thread: Replacing Guilt Cliffs Notes – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.

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