Why I don’t advise you to try…

A while ago I found an old diary that I used to keep as an early teenager, the one where I used to write down what was No1 on Top of the Pops together with things I wanted to buy when I had a job, as well as general thoughts. I think Adrian Mole might have inspired me. Although my diary was distinctly less interesting than Adrian Mole aged 13 and three quarters. I seemed to spend a lot of time with my friend Clare Chapman looking wistfully in Rumbelows window at clock radios.

My diary contained a list of New Year Resolutions. One of them was to ‘try and be nicer to my brother.’ Jon Gower I’m sorry. That was such a poor attempt and intention.

The bit I’m talking about here is this word ‘try’. 

Think about it. Your friend who is usually late says ‘I’ll try and be on time.’ You know they’ll probably be late. You agree to try to walk 10,000 steps a day. You’re probably going to fall short. You try to finish work on time and inevitably you end up working late again.

When I’m working with clients and I hear them say they’re going to ‘try’ my heart sinks. Because I know the likelihood of them achieving the thing is immediately lowered because of how they are talking about it and therefore approaching it.

The likelihood of them achieving the thing is lowered because of what happens when we say ‘try’. By saying you’re going to try you’re already sending your brain a signal that it’s OK not to achieve the thing. Your intention is to try – not to succeed.

Setting intention is important. There is a big difference between telling your brain you’re going to try and telling your brain you’re going to do it. Start with a positive intention. Tell yourself (and others – we’re more likely to succeed if we’re accountable to others) that you’re going to arrive on time, you’re going to walk 10,000 steps and that you’re going to leave work on time.

I don’t want to go all Yoda but he did have a point when he said ‘Do or do not, there is no try’.

When I challenge people on the use of ‘try’ one of the things that comes up is this notion of failure. That it’s OK to try and fail. I agree. It is. However you’re already signalling that a fail is likely by simply setting out to try. Commit to achieving. Then if you don’t manage it, then that’s OK. Changing anything is hard enough, so set yourself up with the best chance of succeeding by aiming to achieve not just to try.

If all you’re wanting to do is ‘try’, it’s probably worth a conversation with yourself about whether you really want to do the thing in the first place.

So the next time you set out to ‘try’. Have a word with yourself. Are you serious about achieving this thing? If no, then unpick that – why not? If yes, then set out to achieve it. If you set out with the intention to achieve it and then you don’t – then that’s OK.

At the Lucidity Network we ask people to set their intentions every single week. Because when we set an intention we’re more likely to have success. How we set our intention is important. Set out to achieve not just to try. If you’d like to join us and increase your chances of success – get in touch at lucy@lucidity.org.uk. 

Note* I am nice to my brother all the time.