Let’s continue our quest for self-improvement. The last article, which you can read HERE, focused on the difference between struggle and suffering and how to think about those things in a more positive manner. As we go through these lessons, you may notice a theme developing. Each lesson is not a big huge behavioral change requiring a lot of effort to do. Instead, these lessons are small changes in how we think and look at situations. These small changes in thought can really add up and lead to more permanent change. The next article in our four-part series comes to us from the wisdom of Yoda.
Lesson #2: Do or do not, there is no try
A parent said to me recently “if all you ever do is try to feed the dog, the dog will starve.” Not only is this hilarious, but its completely true. I hear “I’ll try” from clients all the time when we talk about change. Hell, I’m guilty of saying it myself. The thing is, people who say to me “I’ll do it” are more likely to follow through than the ones who say “I’ll try.” I know for this is true for me.
What is it about saying try that seems to muck up the works? I know that sometimes when people use the word try that they often are sincere in their desire to change. Other times, try is simply a way to look willing to change while avoiding it all together. It’s a polite way to say “Aw, hell no!” In either case, “try” thinking seems to interfere with are ability to move forward and actually do stuff.
There is a lot of research done around motivation. One of the things researchers have found is that when people announce their plans to others they are less likely to follow through and do what they said they’d do. For instance, you tell all your friends that you are going to start going to the gym 4 times a week and work out for an hour. You tell them so that they can hold you accountable and keep you honest. What happens? In many cases, the gym trips start out fine but then gradually drop off.
Saying “I’ll try” is very like telling our friends our plans. It tricks our brain into thinking about what would happen. We imagine the outcome and our brain (which doesn’t do a good job of distinguishing between what we think and what happens) into experiencing completeness. This experience then gives us the illusion on some level that we already did what we said we were going to do….and then we don’t actually do it. This phenomenon has been documented in research going back to the turn of the last century.
So, what’s the solution? How do we not try? Simple…listen to Nike and JUST DO IT. Don’t tell everybody your plans, just start working your plans. Hold yourself accountable. If you don’t want to do something…be honest and say so. If you do want to do something…DO IT. The hardest thing about this is typically getting through the mental/emotional resistance. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve procrastinated, worries, and stressed out about something and once I finally started felt “that wasn’t so hard.” Has that happened to you? Probably. So, remember that. Remember the feeling of getting stuff done. Stop getting in your own way and applying the brakes to yourself and start doing the stuff you want and need to do.
I hope you found this article helpful. Please share this with everyone you know. Spread the positivity!
If you would like to work with me on getting stuff done and getting out of your own way, then call 484-693-0582 or go to www.erikyoungcounseling.com to schedule a consultation.
©Erik Young, M.Ed., LPC