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In honor of the New Year and new intentions, let’s talk about a word we probably all use frequently. It’s a very powerful word, but not in the way you might think. It’s the word TRY. How often do we use that word in the context of something we are doing, a goal we are setting, an objective we are reaching for?  It’s hard to even write that last sentence without using "try," as in "something we are trying to do" or "an objective we are trying to achieve."


"Try" has become an accepted part of our vocabulary, but its use limits our abilities to focus on a goal and commit completely to achieving something. As a way to illustrate this, let’s do a quick activity. If you are sitting down, stand up. Are you standing? Now … try to sit back down. No, don’t sit down, TRY to sit down. How did that work? What did you notice? The bottom line: You can’t try to sit down – you either sit down or you don’t. 

Is that same principle not also true of goals or something we set our minds to – that we either do them or we don’t?  We either accomplish or don’t accomplish what we set out to do. In a take-off from what Tom Hanks said in the movie League of Our Own, "There’s no trying in life."  (Well, he actually said, "There’s no crying in baseball." A bit of a stretch perhaps, but hopefully you get the point!)

The point is that you can’t try to achieve whatever you set out to achieve – ultimately, you either achieve it or you don’t.  Consider how often we either hear others say "try" or we say "try" ourselves.   How much more powerful and accomplished might we be if we took that pesky three-letter word out of our vocabulary?  Here are some examples across a wide spectrum of areas:

  • Your kids: from "Yes, Mom, I’ll try to get my homework done before dinner," … to … "Yes, Mom, I’ll get my homework done before dinner."
  • In a meeting at your workplace: from "I’ll try to talk with them about the project today," … to … "I’ll talk with them about the project today."
  • With your wife/husband/significant other: from "Let’s try to spend more time together on the weekends," … to … "Let’s spend more time together on the weekends."
  • In your life: from "I’m trying to exercise three times a week," … to … "I am exercising three times a week."

Do you notice the difference in how these statements sound with and without the word try

So, here is your challenge: For the next week, don’t just try to do whatever you are focused on. Do it without the "try" in your sentence and without the "try" in your mindset.  Catch others in the act too – have them try the "sit down" exercise from above to illustrate your point. And as always, I’d love to hear from you how it goes!

 Note: upon reading this post, my long-time friend Suzann reminded me of what Yoda said: "Do or do not. There is not try." That’s one wise alien.