"Try Harder" is Rarely The Solution

Mike Coval
June 23, 2021

I'm not getting the results that I want from my training program...I must not be going hard enough. I'll try harder.

I know I need to drink more water, but I continue to struggle with getting enough water. I'll try harder.

I can't seem to keep my focus throughout the day and waste way too much time on social media. I'll try to focus harder.

As you read those 3 examples, if you didn't realize how silly it sounds to say "I'll try harder" in those scenarios, then let me break it down on why "try harder" is the solution.

1) "Try harder" has no plan. There's no strategy. It's a moment in time where you either have the willpower or you don't (hint: you probably won't as you spend so much mental energy on other things throughout the day). When you don't, you get mad at yourself, and then promise yourself that you'll try harder. Occasionally, you might win, but occasional wins don't add up to long-term success. It's an going cycle to nowhere.

2) "Try" - to make an attempt or effort to do something. Usually, when "try harder" is the focus, it's a half-assed attempt to "try harder". It's an easy way out. It's the lazy way out. As I mentioned in point #1, it requires no planning. No mental energy on developing the plan. No mental pain of putting the plan together.

"Trying" is for things like tasting new foods, putting on a new pair of pants to see if you want to buy them, and viewing a new TV show. The investment in your mental energy is low, and the pain threshold is extremely low.

It's painful to go beyond "try harder" and put the time and energy in developing a plan to help you overcome whatever adversity it is that you're facing in your life. If it is meaningful enough to you though, it's probably much more painful to continue the cycle of "try harder" and being frustrated for any lengthy period of time.

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Mike Coval

Coval Fitness is a Personal Training Studio and Gym in Ann Arbor, Michigan

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