The Danger of “Trying”

Getting things done is a problem for many people. Time Management seminars, books and associated audio tapes and video programs triumph the need for people to become more organized, learn to prioritize and distinguish between important and urgent tasks. Constant changes in our business and personal lives generate more tasks, paper and responsibilities. Through all of this, the time we have all been given, remains constant. Seminar participants in my programs report increased levels of stress with “do more with less” becoming the standard rather than the exception.

People are in search of new ways to succeed, in some cases, just to survive our go, go, go world. With stress levels increasing, productivity levels decline, producing additional stress.

A major cause of stress is not getting things done. This can be proven easily. If you have ever completed anything in your life, how did you feel when you were finished? Probably pretty good, right? Where was your stress level? That’s right, very low! It would seem, then, a constructive step to reducing stress would be completing tasks. This is hardly a revolutionary idea and yet, it can be the first step in getting your life in order.

The solution seems obvious. The reason it doesn’t always work is because too many people are busy “trying” instead of “doing”. “I’ll try that, I’ll try to get it done, I’ll even try that too, just watch me”. You always want to ask this person … “Why don’t you just do it?”, The typical response … “Oh, I don’t ever do anything, I just try”.

The words, “I’ll try”, are the world’s most convenient excuse for not getting things done. If you don’t complete something, at least you “tried” and tomorrow you could “try harder”, or you could “really, really try”. As an experiment, locate some object right now within your reach and try and pick it up. NO, don’t actually pick it up, just try … hold your hand over it as if some all-powerful unseen force was preventing you from lifting the object. That’s trying. Actually picking it up is doing!!

What is this unseen force? Whether it is low self-confidence, low self-esteem, fear of failure and corresponding reluctance to take risks, acknowledging the problem is the first step in handling it more effectively. When people leave my seminars, I caution them about trying anything we have discussed and encourage them instead to take action and do it. If you decide not to do something, stating that decision will have a more positive impact on your self-esteem than will saying you might “try it”. I have never motivated anyone to do anything. I make people aware of options and then they get to make a choice. If you are unhappy with past choices, make new ones. Incidentally, deciding to only try rather than do is also a choice you have made.

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