I’ve been “trying” to achieve a goal for the past twelve months. That one word trying is where the problems begun.
Trying assumes you have no certainty, confidence, strategy or belief in what the hell you’re doing. If I want to achieve a goal, then I’ve got to get off my ass and do something about it. It’s so easy to lie to ourselves and drown in a pool of negative emotions.
My definition of trying is to give something a go without any passion or certainty around the outcome. Trying, to me, is about telling people you did something so you can look good without really achieving anything at all.
Like nearly every person on the planet, I have a dream and I want to achieve it. I want to reach my own version of success. The trouble is that trying won’t get any of us there.
The word “trying” is closely followed by the words “giving up.”
Next time you think of a goal, think to yourself “do I want to take action or not take action?” That question will get you a lot further in business and in life than the word trying ever will.
Here’s why you need to eliminate trying:
1. Trying equals indecision
I meet people all the time that can’t decide. Deciding is hard work so of course, we avoid it. That’s why we fall into the trap of trying. When we can’t make up our mind, we start trying to achieve goals in the hope that maybe that will move us into either a yes or a no about that goal.
Trying is a way for us to dabble, but we all know that mastery is where it’s at. I met this dude who pitched my his startup (nothing wrong with that.) The only problem was that for the next six months he pitched me six more startups.
I told him to stop trying and stop being indecisive. I told him to make a decision about the startup he wants to do and then just go do it. I told him that if he doesn’t love what this startup does, then he’ll keep trying to convince himself of the lie that the money and success will be worth it.
Guess what? The money and success will never happen if you try. And even if you get the success, it won’t keep you motivated. Again, my advice is simply do or not do.
2. Telling someone you will try is like slapping them in the face
Trying is flat out rude. If I ask you to come to my wedding and you say, “I’ll try” you’re basically telling me my wedding is not important. Telling someone you will try is sending the message that you’ll accept the invitation for now unless something more interesting, critical, joyous, inviting, happy, worthy etc, comes up.
In fact, telling someone you will try is like slapping them in the face and telling them they are worthless. Do you like slapping people in the face?
3. Trying gives you an excuse
Excuses are like cocaine: they motivate us until the point where we realize we’ve lost our mind and we’ve been lying to ourselves. None of us want to be coke addicts so let’s think differently. People that take action, with a sense of purpose, don’t give you excuses about how they tried and it didn’t work. Here are some common excuses I hear:
– I tried but it’s not my time
– I tried but I don’t have enough money
– I tried but he or she just doesn’t like me
– I tried but X event got in my way
If you were told that you were having your first child next week would you make excuses about how you’re not ready? No, you wouldn’t. You would be so excited that you would go out there and do what had to be done. You wouldn’t have time for excuses because there was something more important called “your baby” on the way.
Here is how you overcome the above excuses that lead to the dark place called trying:
– It’s never a good time to do anything pal
– Define enough money. Maybe you are blowing money on useless crap hence the shortage
– How do you know he or she doesn’t like you? Maybe you haven’t demonstrated who you are. Or maybe you need to take more action and see someone else
– Events are always going to get in your way. Assume distractions, detours and catastrophes are going to occur
Rather than try and then use it as an excuse, replace this way of thinking with doing instead. Trying is an excuse for not giving it your all.
“Trying is giving you an excuse before you’ve even started so you can blame the failure on something other than you”
You’re in control and you’ll determine the outcome and the meaning that is derived from that outcome. Once you start speaking about action and stop speaking about trying, people will back you more and you’ll find success is easier than you think.
4. Say no, then you won’t need to try
Half the reason you get stuck trying all the time is because you keep saying yes. If someone asks you to do something and it doesn’t make you say HELL YES then say a big fat no. Don’t get emotional, don’t feel regretful, just say no.
I’ve found that when I have to go into a state of trying it’s because the task was something I should never have begun in the first place. We need to be inspired to do our best work. Doing work with a sense of passion lights us up and makes us achieve more than we thought was possible.
The fewer things you say yes to that don’t align with your goals, the more you get to avoid the awful feeling of “having to try.”
Who wants to try for the hell of it? I sure as hell don’t. I want to be full of energy and change the world. This bold plan can’t be achieved through trying. I can either change the world or I can’t.
There’s no middle ground. I decide. I make the decisions around here. I am good enough not to try and to do instead.
5. Trying makes no sense
Imagine you are going to bungee jump for the first time in your life and the instructor says to you “I’ll try and make sure you survive.” You wouldn’t be too happy with this response.
Imagine you are having heart surgery and the doctor says, “I’ll try and fix your heart, but who knows.”
Is that a surgeon that you wouldn’t want to punch in the face and ask him why he’s not giving it his all?
These scenarios show us that trying is not acceptable. Why should trying not be acceptable when it’s life or death, but be acceptable in everything else we do in life?
You can’t get away with trying. Trying is showing the world that you don’t care and you’ll see how you feel on the day and maybe give a rats about whatever action you’ve been asked to take. Success is about getting serious. Success is about being committed and not settling for second best.
Hold yourself to a higher standard. Commit to taking real action not half-assed, I’ll see how I go on the day BS. Take action or don’t take action. Forget trying.
6. Trying shows a lack of confidence
Confidence comes from being decisive and being able to cut off from all other options and go with your gut.
People who are not confident sit on the fence and think about things until their brain talks them out of it. Your brain can convince you to give up if you give it enough time. Show some confidence, take a risk and commit. Confidence is sexy whereas trying is ugly.
If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net
A Step by Step Process That Will Help You Make the Impossible, Possible
We have all been there, looking at something and wishing we had it. The girl, the car, the money, the family, the lifestyle…but then we tell ourselves “Yeah, but that’s not me”. The people who get that are cut from a different cloth and we keep telling ourselves that until it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We waste the wings we got believing the entire time that we can’t fly and that it’s impossible for us. We don’t even see our wings most of the time. (more…)
How to Stay Motivated to Achieve Your Goals
Time is the raw material of our lives. How we choose to spend it, shapes our life accordingly. So having the motivation to spend it on achieving goals is crucial to creating a life we want.
What is Motivation?
The Oxford dictionary defines motivation as the desire or willingness to do something – our drive to take action.
Scientifically, motivation has its roots in the dopamine pathways of our brains. When we do something that feels good, that’s dopamine kicking in. Our actions are driven by the desire for that reward (the good feeling).
Author Steven Pressfield describes motivation more practically. He says we hit a point where the pain of not doing something becomes greater than the pain of doing it. He sees motivation as crossing the threshold where it’s easier to take action than it is to be idle. Like choosing to feel awkward while making sales calls over feeling disappointed about a diminishing bank account.
However you choose to think about it, we all want to harness motivation to achieve our goals.
How to Get Motivated
James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, says that most people misunderstand motivation. They think that motivation is what gets us to take action. In reality, motivation is often the result of action, not the cause of it. Once we start a task, it’s easier to continue making progress. Like Isaac Newton’s first law: objects in motion stay in motion.
This means most of the resistance when working on your goals comes right before we start. Since motivation naturally occurs after we start, we need to focus on making starting easier.
4 Ways to Make Starting Easier
1. Schedule it
One reason people can’t get started on things is that they haven’t planned when to do it.
When things aren’t scheduled it’s easier for them to fall by the wayside. You’ll end up hoping motivation falls in your lap or hoping that you’ll muster enough willpower to get it done.
An article in the Guardian said, “If you waste resources trying to decide when or where to work, you’ll impede your capacity to do the work.”
2. Measure something
It’s easy to feel uninspired when you don’t know if you’re making progress or what you’re even working towards. That’s why you need to make your success measurable in some way. Starting is easy when you know exactly how much closer your current actions will bring you to achieving your goal.
3. Extrinsic motivation
This type of motivation is from external factors. It can be either positive or negative. Positive motivation consists of incentives like money, prizes, and grades. Negative motivation consists of deterrents like being fired, having a fight, or being fined. Extrinsic motivation doesn’t work effectively long-term, but it can work well in the short term to get you started on something.
4. Make it public
Keep yourself accountable by telling friends and family your goals, or even sharing them on social media. This makes it easier to start something because you’re pressured to not let others down.
How to Stay Motivated Long Term
When we say we want to feel motivated to do something, we don’t want to be pushed or guilted into doing a task. We want to be so attracted and drawn to the idea that we can’t resist not taking action. That’s why it’s important to build a foundation that will set you up for consistency.
These are 5 techniques that will help you do just that:
1. Stay in your goldilocks zone
The goldilocks zone is when a task is the perfect level of difficulty—not too hard and not too easy. In this zone, we reach peak motivation and focus.
For example, let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against a 4-year-old. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become bored and not want to play. Now let’s say you’re playing a serious tennis match against Serena Williams. On this level of difficulty, you’ll quickly become demotivated because the match is too challenging.
The Goldilocks zone is in the middle of that spectrum. You want to face someone with equal skill as you. That way you have a chance to win, but you have to focus and try for it. Adjusting your workload and goals over time to stay within your Goldilocks zone keeps you engaged and motivated long-term.
2. Pursue intrinsically motivated goals
Being intrinsically motivated to achieve a goal is when you want to achieve it for what it is. There are no external factors like a reward or the risk of being fired. The drive behind your actions is coming from within.
For most intrinsic goals we pursue them because they will enrich our lives or bring us closer to fulfillment. That makes these goals extremely sustainable long-term because they directly affect our quality of life and the things we care about.
3. Use “chunking”
Chunking is the technique of breaking down a goal into smaller short-term targets. By doing this you achieve multiple successes in your pursuit of the main goal. This triggers the brain’s reward system and drives you to keep going.
Traditionally, you may set a goal that you expect to achieve in one year. That’s a long time to commit without seeing any results along the way. By chunking your goals into monthly or quarterly targets, you get the consistent positive reinforcement you need to stay motivated long-term.
For example, instead of trying to lose 50 pounds in one year, try to lose 4 pounds every month for 12 months.
4. Be flexible
We’re all victims of circumstance. Things happen along our journey that we can either adjust to or quit because of. That’s why it’s important to have leeway and flexibility when you’re pursuing a goal. If you expect everything to go perfectly, the inevitable failure can make you disengaged and desireless. When you plan for things to go wrong, you make sure you can keep up for the long haul.
5. Pursue your goals in a sustainable fashion
Don’t lose hope when you’re not an overnight success. Overnight successes are the 1%—for the most part, they don’t exist. What we see as an “overnight success” is actually countless hours of work behind the scenes finally hitting a tipping point. Pursuing goals is a story of patience, persistence, and unseen effort.
Don’t compare yourself to others. Comparison is a recipe for a drop in self-confidence and satisfaction. It also cultivates a mindset where you think you haven’t done enough. As a result, you may raise your expectations and put more pressure on yourself.
This is pointless because things worth achieving take time. So we obviously won’t compare to the things around us when starting.
Mastering motivation is a superpower. With that ability at your fingertips, you can accomplish your goals and shape a life you want to live in.
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