5 ways to Stop Trying so Hard

Do you ever getting the feeling that you are working very hard, but not getting anywhere?  Ever felt like a headless chicken?  Are you busy all the time?  Do you remember Rabbit in Winnie the Pooh

Rabbit always thought he was clever and dashed around all the time.  Somehow Winnie the Pooh, who just relied on his instincts and plodded along, always seemed to get better outcomes!  At work it is not necessarily those who put the most effort in who get promoted, but the people who get the results.  Trying harder doesn’t seem to matter.

Let’s look at the word “Trying”.

 “Trying” implies maximum effort for minimum results.  When you think about it, you will realise that when we use the word “try” we often imply failure.  Just look at the following sentences:

I tried to climb to the top of the hill.

I tried to finish it on time.

I tried to be friendly.

Do you think I was successful?

In any of them?

So let’s stop “trying” and start getting results!

If you are putting in a lot of effort, but not getting the results here are some ways to change that:

  1. Put first things first – Often most of our effort is spent on doing activities that are not important.  Stephen Covey’s Habit 3 of his book 7 Habits of highly Effective People is about focussing your attention on the things that are most important.  Be clear on the things that are important for you to do and do them first.  Be honest with yourself about where you are putting your effort and how you are spending your time.
  2. If something you are doing isn’t working, do something different– We get better by adjusting the way we do things.  Often we spend a lot of time repeating actions that don’t work over and over again.  If you ever feel as though you are hitting your head against the wall, stop! Look at what you are doing!  Learn from what doesn’t work!  When things don’t work, ask yourself what can you do better next time?
  3. Forget perfection- It is easy to let the need for perfection stop you from doing things.  The need for perfection is often an excuse for procrastination.  It is more important to get things done, than not do them because they aren’t perfect, yet!  Aim to be outstanding instead!  Are the hours you spend perfecting your marketing going to give you better results than getting your marketing out there?  You don’t have to things right the first time, but by doing things; you can evaluate how things went and improve the next time.
  4. Don’t underestimate what you are achieving – Sometimes it feels as though we are putting a lot of effort into things, but we are getting nowhere.  Never underestimated the skills you are acquiring along the way.  People often give up just at the point of success because they can’t see what they have already achieved.
  5. Trust your instincts – Learn to trust your instincts.  Successful business people trust their gut feel.  Anyone watching The Apprentice will hear Sir Alan Sugar talk about his gut feel about candidates.  Winnie the Pooh was lead home when he was lost because the honey-pots were calling to his tummy.  He hadn’t been able to hear them because Rabbit was talking so much!

If you want to be a little more like Winnie the Pooh and a bit less like Rabbit, stop trying so hard!

Please add your comments and let me know what your thoughts are!

Nicky Kriel

Nicky Kriel is a Social Media Coach & Trainer inspiring, educating and empowering Business Owners to use Social Media more strategically. She is also the author of How to Twitter for Business Success. For more information visit http://www.nickykriel.com or to find out about her courses that she runs in Guildford visit http://www.nickykriel.com/courses

Sali - 7th November 2010

I agree: not only does trying imply failure but many people are unaware of that implication and therefore unaware of the ‘failure’ message that they are constantly telling themselves.
Try dropping a pencil… if you just dropped your pencil you stopped trying!
If you succeeded in ‘trying’ to drop your pencil (without actually dropping it) you will be discovering how much energy the act of ‘trying’ can use.

Juliet - 7th November 2010

Great read. I often use the phrase “if at first you don’t succeed change something and try again”

Gee Backhouse - 8th November 2010

A post packed full with ideas. Stopping to think about what really needs to be done next, instead of battling on with what you’re familiar with, can mean the beginning of a new adventure. For me, it’s the difference between “trying” and “doing”. As you say, ditch perfection, and go with your instincts – and this calls for courage, too! Trying different ways of making things work is the way to go, as is celebrating what you’ve achieved so far. It’s about learning, taking a risk or two and making lots of discoveries along the way. Like it a lot and look forward to seeing more. Thanks, Gee.

David Wike - 19th December 2010

If we took note of your first point Nicky we wouldn’t be commenting here because I’d be fairly certain that we all have a to do list with items on it that are a higher priority! I like the encouragement for us perfectionists to become outstanding. I might try that once I’m perfect! Of course, I would have liked it if you’d encouraged those with a ‘it’ll do’ attituded to aim for perfection. Somewhat tangentially (well, it’s almost Christmas!), I had a director once who would look at a piece of work and say, “It’s only perfect but it’ll have to do.”

At the moment I’m battling with the final point. Someone has suggested a perfectly reasonable idea to me. Gut feel says it isn’t quite right. But I can’t make a rational argument against it and I haven’t got a better idea. If I can’t resolve it in any other way, maybe I should just say ‘Nicky said so’!

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