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?