Do or do not

Yoda 'try' quoteActually, the full quote from the Stars Wars Jedi Master Yoda is ‘Try not. Do or do not.  There is no try.’

It’s a concept that was reinforced as part of my NLP course.  I still remember the ridiculously simple way it was explained to me, and how just for one perfect shining moment it made things crystal clear.

Think about a pencil that’s been dropped on the floor.  You either pick it up or you leave it there.  In the moment that it drops, you make a choice.  You choose to pick it up.  You choose not to pick it up.  You don’t ever choose to try to pick it up but fail to pick it up.

And that’s kind of the essence of it – for me anyway.  ‘Try’ is a deceptive word.  It implies that there has been a decision and some effort will be made, but it doesn’t guarantee an outcome.  But actually, the minute you start a sentence with the word ‘Try’ what you’re actually telling your brain, and whoever you’re talking to is that there is a chance that whatever it is you’re attempting won’t actually happen.

My brother uses the word ‘Try’ whenever he doesn’t want to do something but doesn’t want to say no.  I’ve learned that when he says ‘I’ll try and make it’ what he actually means is ‘Nope, that doesn’t sound like something I want to do, but I don’t want to hurt your feelings or cause myself any stress right now, so I’m going to delay the moment I actually have to tell you I won’t be doing X or coming to Y’.

I do it to myself – at the moment I’ve been using the word ‘Try’ every time I think about exercising.  I say to myself ‘I’ll try and exercise tomorrow.’  I’ve been saying that for a week.  I haven’t yet exercised once.

We do it at work too.  ‘I’ll try and get that report finished tomorrow or ‘I’ll try and come in early to get a head start on Z’.  But what you’re actually doing is giving yourself a get out clause.

Don’t.  Don’t do it.  Don’t make half promises to yourself or to anyone else.  You deserve better for yourself.  And ‘Trying’ takes up a lot of head space but doesn’t lead to anything productive.

Instead, make a decision.  Yes or No.  Then stick with it.  I made a decision on the exercise.  I’m starting on Sunday.  And until then I’m not going to try to fit it in.  On Sunday I’m just going to ‘Do’.  Until then I’m going to ‘Do Not’.

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