Alternate Title: Trying matters too
I understand that it’s important for many societies, if not people as individuals, to push their selves to new heights. And personally, I’m a fan of being a better you as time goes on. But a constant all-or-nothing attitude isn’t that great of a solution long-term. Or at least, I doubt it’s for everyone.
What does it mean to try?
Try is an attempt. Yes, it can be done half-heartedly, but it can also be done wholeheartedly. [Because you can acknowledge that the odds are against you and still give it your best.]
Trying is progress. It’s the in-between of doing nothing and success. And it deserves more respect than it tends to get.
When is trying acceptable?
There seems to be an implication that trying is wishy-washy and that you should give an action all-or-nothing. However, this perception is often a source of disagreement. In fact, perceptions of what trying really look like and if it’s even really a thing, varies. Some examples are:
- You either do something or don’t. There’s no state in between.
- You should give your all to everything you do. If you can’t give something 100% then it’s not worth it.
- Trying is the path to success. Even if you fail a dozen times or a hundred times, you can learn along the way and it can lead to worthwhile success.
- Trying is a half-hearted response.
Obviously, the opinions on trying aren’t clear-cut. But there does seem to be a consensus that a person should give things a decent try. The split in opinion is mainly, from what I can tell, based on how hard to try and up until what point.
I know those two factors seem identical. But, I mean the former in percentage and the latter in time.
Do you try with 35% dedication? 70%? 100%?
And do you try until you get the result you want? Or until you hate the idea of it? Or until you think you’ve stalled in meaningful growth?
Personally, I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all answer to this. As usual, there are many other factors to consider and it depends greatly on your own PoV. Like:
- What type of day are you having? [Bad/tired/off days can be a good reason not to “push” yourself.]
- Do you enjoy what you’re doing? [If the answer is “no,” that can be a good enough reason not to bother or only give it partial dedication.]
- Are other people involved/counting on the success? [The more people involved, the less society tends to accept failure or half-hearted attempts.]
- Do you think you’re “allowed” to fail? [There’s what others think and then what you think. Are you okay with the failure?]
- Is the action/goal a valid priority? [Is it basically insignificant for you? What are the possible repercussions?]
- How much do you need to try vs can try? [If the task requires 75% dedication, then you might not want to only give it 40%. Although, it can be hard or impossible to guess how much dedication something requires.]
Humanity isn’t perfect. And I doubt we can perfectly strive for perfection. [Whether that be never making mistakes or always giving 100%.] And honestly, I think that’s okay.
But… success and failure are the only options
[^ Ah, are our lives really that clear-cut, though? Is everything just a matter of success or failure? Right or wrong? Good or bad?]
What that title ignores is that something happens even if you fail. You can learn from your failures. By having tried, you can obtain new knowledge that will help prevent you from failing next time. [Or at least, just have more insight, confidence, and/or speed.]
Anyway, the thing about trying is that it confronts that we don’t live in a black-and-white world. Much of our experience is gray. If your result is a failure, that doesn’t mean everything related to the process was meaningless. Because you can gain new potential for the next round.
I’m not an expert in logic, but when I picture the absolute of “success or failure,” it’s like this:
5 and higher = success.
And then we often fixate on getting 5 or more. We partially focus on the numbers being added up (the steps we must accomplish), but it’s all about the ending.
However, with believing the importance of trying, perhaps we’ll respect the ups and downs, even if we don’t reach 5 or higher. It’s more like:
3 + 1 – 2 + 1 + 2 = 5 = (success)
When we acknowledge the steps as being vital and influential in their own right, then there’s more room to learn from them. By making the process an important part, rather than only the ending, we can better build off the attempt.
Of course, there are often situations where the result, success or failure, is bound to grab and focus our attention. But maybe that’s part of the problem. Maybe we need to accept more often that few things are guaranteed. And at times, it’s especially important to make peace with having tried, because sometimes it’s the furthest you’re going to go. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Because we can control what we try and perhaps make a difference, but it’s not guaranteed to always be enough. That’s life.
But results matter and complacency is
Of course, results matter. Or at least, they can and often do. My point is that results aren’t the only thing that matters. There’s something to be said about trying in the first place. Because technically, you did something. Whether you tried enough or other judgment calls is a case-by-case basis that I doubt can always be objectively decided.
Sure, there might always be a chance that you can accomplish whatever task if you try hard enough. But, I think there’s also the reality that failure is not always caused by you not trying hard enough. Sometimes the deciding factor is out of our control.
And again, I can see why there’s a push to always give your best. I just wonder if it’s achievable and disagree that everyone should strive for it. You don’t need to always chase after perfection to live a life you’re satisfied with. Actually, complacency (which seems to be a main worry against not shooting for 100%) might have a negative connotation, but it might not be outright bad. [Even then, there’s an ocean of possibility between constantly chasing perfect success and embracing a life full of complacency.]
Personally, I think it’s usually good enough just to be proactive about what I want and need in my life. And if there’s a task that only needs 65% of my dedication… there’s no need to automatically try and shoot for 100% anyway. Even if I do fail, I think I’m capable of growing from it and that too is good enough.