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In honor of the upcoming New Year and new intentions, let’s explore a word we probably all use frequently. It’s a small and 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 difficult for many of us to think or speak about things we want to accomplish without using “try,” as in “something we will try to do” or “an objective we will try 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 it. 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.

Shouldn’t that same principle also apply to goals or something seemingly important to us – 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.” (He actually said, “There’s no crying in baseball.” A bit of a stretch perhaps, but hopefully the twist makes sense.)

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 focused and committed would we be if we took that pesky three-letter word out of our vocabulary? Here are a few examples:

  • Your child: from “Yes, Mom, I’ll try to get my homework done before dinner,” … to … “Yes, Mom, I’ll get my homework done before dinner.”
  • At work: from “I’ll try to speak with our vendor about the project today,” … to … “I’ll speak with our vendor about the project today.”
  • With your significant other: from “Let’s try to spend more time together on the weekends,” … to … “Let’s spend more time together on the weekends.”
  • Regarding your health: from “I’m trying to eat better and exercise three times a week,” … to … “I am eating better and exercising three times a week.”

Do you notice the difference in how these statements sound (and feel) with and without the word try?

So, here’s your challenge: As 2023 winds down and 2024 begins, don’t just try to do something. Approach that goal, task, to-do without the “try” in your sentence and without the “try” in your mindset. And see what difference this makes for you – hopefully a positive one! Catch others in the act too – have them do the “sit down” exercise from above to illustrate your point. Have fun with it. And don’t try to approach next year with a new mindset. Approach next year with a new mindset!

Note: Yoda from Star Wars said: “Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.” That’s one wise alien.