Yoda is a great career coach. In perhaps his most famous scene, he commands Luke Skywalker, fledgling Jedi, to raise a spaceship with his mind. Reluctantly, Luke agrees to “try.” “No,” interjects Yoda sternly. “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
How many of us have been “trying” to change a bad habit? Eating better, moving more, getting to bed earlier – all good ideas you might have “tried” recently. There is no trying to get to bed earlier. You either turn off the TV or device at 10:00 and go to bed, or you don’t. You either go out for a walk after work or you don’t. “I’m trying to walk every day” really means “I’m failing.” We just feel better saying we tried rather than admitting we failed.
I hear the same excuses when someone is stuck in a rut at work. “I try to get along with my difficult team member, but she’s impossible.” “I’m trying to get my reports done earlier, but things keep coming up at the last minute.”
To say that we’re trying to do something is the way we prepare for failure. We’re making a small side bet that we won’t succeed so the world will judge us more kindly. We always knew it was a long shot… I’m a firm believer that you can’t prepare for success and failure at the same time. Here’s how to transition from trying to doing.
- Break up a big important goal into tangible steps you can take right now. Instead of trying to eat healthy, turn down dessert today or pour yourself a big glass of water right now. Instead of trying to walk every day, walk today. The same goes for relationships. Instead of trying to get along with a difficult team member, listen carefully to her point in this moment. Choose to smile and greet her warmly today. Offer your help on a project right now.
- Admit when you don’t want to do something and let it go. We worry about what people think of us, and we want to please them. That makes “no” hard to say. Instead of turning down invitations, we say we’ll “try to make it.” (Yoda shakes his head sadly in the background.) There is real freedom in knowing what you don’t want and having the courage to say it. Saying no to things that aren’t important or don’t bring you joy is like getting rid of clutter in your home. You create more space for things that do matter when you eliminate things that don’t.
- Believe you are already what you want to be. “I am” statements are powerful inspiration. I am successful. I am loved. I am surrounded by abundance. Believing was the first step for Luke to raise the spaceship, and your belief also clears the way for action and success.
Trying is based on fear; doing is based on power. Trying feels safer; less risk, but less reward. Doing is audacious and full of risk. We might succeed brilliantly. Or we may fail miserably. Scary stuff. But real – unlike the lie we tell ourselves when we say we tried.
What will you do today?