Do…or do not. There is no try.

I had a conversation this week with my boss.  I work in a call center and while I contribute to our team and am very professional, the metrics we use for annual reviews are consistently lower than they should be.  My manager encouraged me, saying she knows I can do it and once I improve, a promotion should be easy.  I ended the conversation with a “I’ll try” and started to walk away.

She stopped me and said “Really, after that kind of conversation and encouragement, that’s all you can say?!”  That’s when Yoda’s voice popped into my head “No! Try not. Do…or do not. There is no try.” (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, 1980)

“Try” is such a dangerous word to use when addressing  goals.  When we say “I’ll try,” or “I’m trying” it generally means one of two things.  Either we have failed and want to make ourselves sound better.  If you ask me about my goal of eat healthier, I very well might say I’m trying.  But in reality, I have eaten out more than I should have this last week, had too many desserts and certainly not enough veggies.  When I’m saying I’m trying, all I really mean is I have good intentions.  In reality, I have failed this week; I have not done what I wanted to.

The other time we use the phrase, we have reached only part of our goal.  I did exercise a few times last week, however, I am not where I want to be.  Trying, in this case, really is doing something, but it is detrimental to my overall motivation.  If I never end up working out every day of the week, I will always have to say I’m trying.  Instead, I have to redefine my goals and provide increments so that I have successes along the way.  So if my goal is to exercise more, I have done what I wanted.  I am not finished with this goal, but I have made progress.

Whether to hide lack of action or express partial action, “trying” is not helpful.  It excuses failure or diminishes success.  For work, I will improve.  I have made an extra effort and redefined my goals.

How will you take “try” out of your goals to allow you be more successful?

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My 29th Year

I have never been one for New Year’s Resolutions.  I have plenty of areas of my life I would like to improve, but I generally lack the motivation to change (and I dislike doing something simply because it is a common practice in culture).  While yet another January 1st came and went with no resolutions, the weeks leading up to my birthday were full of conviction and motivation.  As a result, I have resolved to change many practices in my life, starting today, day 1 of year 29.

All of my resolutions revolve around a verse that recently convicted me: Proverbs 31:27 ESV “[An excellent wife] looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”  Unfortunately, there are many days it seems all I eat is that bread (and I should know better, having done the Atkins diet :-P).  I understand change takes time, so I expect to grow and improve over the year.  The following are my goals, which I will work on and share over the year.

Blog more: To be more specific, I want to blog weekly.  Currently, I have about 2-4 blog ideas floating around in my head, but I have yet to put them on paper.  The main reason this is top of my list is because of the impact blogging (or simply writing) my ideas has on me.  For a good ten years now, I have been writing little thoughts here and there; about faith, life, relationships, etc.  Everytime I do, it helps settle the thoughts in my mind and soul.  I have also felt for a long time that some day, in God’s timing, my writing will be for more than just me.  With that in mind, I want to continue to put forth my ideas and let Him use them as He wills.

Read the Bible more often:  With moving into a new home, fixing it up and in general settling into a new life, I have pushed aside my time with God.  I can also get easily overwhelmed when trying to read the Bible.  For me, it’s like trying to fill a wine bottle with a garden hose.  There is so much to catch and I want to catch it all while also focusing on a few topics I would like to write about.  For this year, I want to read it through fairly quickly, keeping three journals handy, one for each idea I currently want to write about.  All other insights will end up in the third one to be looked at later.

Eat healthier:  Many people speak of the freshman 15, but I am also a proponent of the marriage 30.  In an effort to lose weight and create better habits, I want to improve my diet.  My goal is to eat smaller portions, eat veggies as snacks between meals, and reduce sweets 10 fold from my diet.

Get in shape: In conjunction with eating better to lose weight, I want to be fit.  Ideally, I would love to start training to run a 5K, 10K and half mile.  I enjoy running (when I’m in shape) and know this would bring a great sense of accomplishment.  This goal will most likely take all year, starting with simple in-home exercises and stretches with free weights we already own (from the last time I was motivated).  There are a few 5Ks in the spring here that I would like to participate in next year.

Go back to school: While my current job does not require more education to excel, I am looking at other opportunities in the company, mostly in a leadership capacity.  For that, I want to begin pursuing my MBA.  Thankfully, my company will pay for it (some tax free, some taxable) and I don’t want to pass that up.  My emotions in this area are a mix of excitement for learning new things and opening doors for leadership and hesitation, knowing an MBA will be a lot of work, research and writing.  Going back to school after 6 years off is not an easy task.