3 Steps to Move from Try to Do

Have you notice how some people are so annoyingly discipline or are able to accomplish so much?  The difference is that they are not trying to do something, they are doing that something. 

What is the difference between try and do?  Let’s start with what the words mean.

“Try” as defined by the dictionary.com is make an attempt or effort to do something.  Do as defined by dictionary.com is perform, act or behave in a specified way. 

What’s the difference?  The main difference is with try it is an attempt.  It implies to our subconscious a get out of jail card.  It is like we have disclaimer for when we fail.  While in do, there is no excuse that we are thinking of.  Do implies there is commitment and giving it all. Whenever, we give ourselves a pass, we are subconsciously preparing to fail.  Our commitment level is not at 110%, we are not giving it our all and our best.

When you must do, you are basically committed, giving it your all and persevering. You have a plan to follow, milestones to track and goals that you want to accomplish.  The mindset between try and do is vastly different.  The key mindset that will unlock the try from the do is the mindset of growth and more specifically how you view learnings and failings.

One of the biggest myths or lies that we believe is that failure is permanent, and it makes you as a person a failure.  That is a lie.  No failure is permanent and no failure of any actions makes you a failure.  One of the most used examples is Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, who said “I have not failed.  I’ve found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  That’s the mindset that we need to have that will unlock the try to do.  The actions might have failed but you are NOT a failure.  You are a learner.  Learners learn by mistakes, errors, and failures.  Yes, failures are our biggest learning arenas.  We learn more from our failures than our successes.  There is rarely anyone who has experienced success overnight.  Everyone experiences success when they learn, then do, and learn, and do it again, and learn it again and the process goes on and on.  It is a never-ending process.  That is the learning journey.

Are you a “trier” or a “doer”?

For example, with my podcast, I could potentially fail.  But I would have learned a lot more about what not to do, what to do and gained credibility and depth of knowledge that I am able to share with others and potentially, I could help someone who might want to embark on this journey as I am now able to share my experiences.  It would certainly be more relatability and have credibility because I have gone through the journey, I am in the arena.  If you do not know the famous quote from The Man in the Arena by Theodore Roosevelt, I would encourage you to read it.  This experience could potentially open a whole new business opportunity for me.  Hence no learnings are ever wasted.  For now, I am enjoying the learning journey.

Remember the key that unlocks the door from try to do is the mindset of growth.  Once you are able to open the door, what’s the next step.  There are 3 steps that you need to have in place and it’s the 3 Ps.  The 3 Ps are:

  1. Purpose.
  2. Plan.
  3. Progress tracking.

Let’s break it down..

Purpose driven.

Yes, there is a purpose behind the do.  The why behind the what.  You have a reason; you are intentional in “what” because you know your purpose.  You are not just trying but you are doing out of that sense of purpose.  Purpose gives you clarity, the ability to prioritise, to commit your time and energy and the determination to see it through to completion.

When you are just trying to do something, it is just that.  You are just attempting it without the secret sauce that gives you the oomph factor.  You are not intentional, not fully committed and therefore will not give it the intensity and prioritisation that would be required to give it 110% of your effort.

When you are purpose driven to do, you are laser focus on the task at hand.  You are clear on why you are putting in the effort, time, energy and sacrifices along the way as you execute on the activities.  Action without a clearly defined purpose is a waste of time. 

Plan or program to follow.

Anyone undergoing training would have a plan or a program.  Either you create a plan, or you would follow a plan that is proven.  For you to do anything with purpose, you will need to have a plan.  You will plan out what you need to do, schedule time for the do to take place, resources that you need to have in place to help you execute and so on.

For example, I want to run 5k.  It is fair to say that I am not going to be able to run 5k without having a plan.  I would need to intentionally create a running plan or get a running program that I can follow.  Once I have settled on the plan, I will need to do it.  I will need to follow the program.  I will then need to create a schedule that I can stick to and work it into my calendar.    Then the rubber hits the road, literally.

If my mindset is to just try, my subconscious is basically saying, ok let’s have a plan and try it out but when the going gets tough, my default mode will be to give up.  However, if my mindset is to do it, then no matter how hard it gets, I will somehow make it happen.  I will put on those running shoes and go out there.  No matter if it was a good run or not, I am out there doing it.

The subtle difference is may not be noticeable with each little step but it will be very pronounced when little steps that you take or do not take, over a period of time.  When you look back, you will see the big difference each little step makes.

When you combine a clear reason or purpose why you are doing it with a plan for getting it done, you chances of succeeding is higher.  In order to complete the transition from try to do is the final step which is the ability to track your progress.

Progress tracking.

I know for most of us and myself included, there is a dislike for tracking.  Its like we want to know but also not want to know.  It is like stepping on the weighting scale.  On the one hand you want to know your weight but on the other, it is also devastating when you know the number.  However, ignorance is not the answer.

Therefore, in order to know just how far you have progressed, you will need to be able to track.  It is not so much about whether you are achieving your goals as it is about just how far you have come or progressed.  The realisation that you have made progress will spur you on to continue.

Take the running 5k example.  There are some weeks that the training just seems harder or my runs just seems to be more painful or I am more sluggish.  It can be demoralising but when I track my progress over time, I can see that I am certainly doing much better than when I first started.  It is amazing just how far my stamina, endurance and strength have come and that they can be developed with each step that I take.  One of the greatest benefits of tracking your progress is that you are able to reward yourself with each milestone that you achieve.  You do not have wait for the goal to be achieved, you can and should celebrate each milestone no matter how small or insignificant it may be.  The recognition and celebration allow you to reflect how far you have progressed and will help to spur you on to the next milestone.

Progress leads to more progress and the cycle continues.  Tracking your progress allows you not just look back but also to help you modify and enhance the plans as you do it.  You will learn what works and what does not and make the necessary changes.  There is no perfect plan when we first create it.  Every plan will change as you learn and grow and in fact changes to any plan is not just allowed but it is expected.

There are various tools that you can use to help you track your progress, use whatever you have on hand.  Journaling is a great habit to develop to track your progress.  It is one of habits that I had developed some time back and I would say that it is one of the best habits to cultivate.

Let’s summarise.  What is the difference between try and do?  It lies in the hidden fact that do has a purpose, a plan and the ability to track its progress.  Try is sometimes wishful thinking or just a temporary interest that is not sustainable and does not result in clear outcomes.  Try does not have a purpose, a plan and certainly no ability to track its progress.

The next time you want to try something, ask yourself, “Do I want to try or do it?”.  What is that little voice in your head saying to you when you say “I am going to try it” vs. “I am going to do it.”  Notice how you feel.  Observe your thoughts or your self-talk.  You might be surprise that you will notice that you will feel differently, and your thoughts will be different as well.  Out of those differences, the outcome or the result will be different as well.  The task might be similar but the outcome will be different.

I will leave you with Yoda’s famous quote “Do or Do Not.  There is no try.” And add, that the DO has a purpose, a plan and progress tracking.

What do you think? Do you think that there is a difference between “Try” and “Do”?

Thank you for taking the time to read my article.  I hope that you have learned at least one thing that you are able to apply into your everyday life. 

As always, please subscribe, like, follow and share this blog with your friends.  Take care and step into the everyday with purpose. 

You can also check out lisalamcoach podcast here.


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