Don't Try, Do

The concept of trying is an interesting one. Many people would likely consider trying to be a positive thing—going out for a sport, auditioning for a play, re-taking a test in hopes of getting a better grade… these examples of putting in effort despite fear of failure are just as inspiring as the next.

Now, the interesting part about trying is that it can actually be quite problematic. The problematic kind of trying is the kind that stops at thinking, planning, wanting, and hoping. This may not sound like such a bad thing in itself, but for any of us to be thinking about, planning, hoping for, and wanting something, it means we’re not doing it. It becomes easy for us to rely on excuses like, “I thought about it all day, I’ll get to it,” or “I’m too tired right now, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care.”

Somewhere along the line, it’s become ok to do nothing as long as it’s on our minds to do something. This is too often what we refer to as trying.

So, in these cases, when is it that we wake up and realize that trying is just another word for avoiding? Unfortunately, the reality sets in when we lose the relationship we kept trying to commit to, or when we end up in the hospital after trying to take that diet seriously. It’s after we go into more debt after trying to stick to a budget, or when our kids cry because we “tried our best” to make it to their basketball game. These are the moments when we finally realize how we could’ve and should’ve done more than just try and how it was completely in our power to.

It’s in these examples when we’re choosing to try instead of do.

I don’t exactly blame us. I mean doing does seem to be a lot scarier than trying. Doing means deciding, changing, working, committing, sacrificing, and achieving. Doing is often believed to mean no mistakes can be made and that no time, energy, or money can be wasted once the doing is in progress. Especially for those “all or nothing” thinkers, doing can often mean never stopping--- that “Oh, once I go in, I go ALL in” mentality. This certainly puts a lot of pressure on a person and makes more out of the task and goal than is really necessary. Then we wonder why doing is stalled and seemingly so out of reach.

The funny thing is that these approaches to doing are what really scare the hell out of us, not even the actual doing itself. One of my favorite things to tell my clients is this: There is no place scarier than the one stuck between A and B. It is in this very place between leaving A (where we no longer feel we belong in life) and arriving at B (where we want to be in life) that all of the over-thinking, worrying, planning, perfecting, spinning, and avoiding exists. All of the uncomfortable, insecure uncertainties that keep us tossing and turning at night are born in this exact spot. Yet, we somehow feel safer here. We’re afraid to “upset” this deceptively comforting chaos in exchange for more focused direction.

When put this way, the twisted logic here becomes difficult to ignore. It is with this that many clients begin to sense a shift in their fears and hesitations, realizing that so much of their present discomfort and dissatisfaction has been sustained solely by their own purposeful and carefully-planned inaction. Suddenly, doing doesn’t seem so scary anymore.

Tough to swallow? Absolutely. The greatest wake-up calls always are. The important thing to realize is that it’s never too late to get “unstuck.” That decision you researched over and over again…. make it, that appointment you’ve been pushing from one week to the next…. schedule it, that big step you’ve been wanting to take in your career or your relationship… take it. Whatever it is you keep trying, planning, wanting, and hoping to do….DO IT. There will always be support for the “scary” when you arrive there and that long-awaited success as you grow there.