One of the most intriguing figures throughout movie history is a little short character named Yoda. If you’re old enough to read this blog then odds are you are probably old enough to know who Yoda is. One of my favorite things about movies is that they are often a source of some of the most profound philosophy in the world today. One such line is Yoda speaking to Luke Skywalker as he is training him to use “The Force.” Luke is frustrated because he just can’t seem to get it right and his X-Wing is stuck in the swamp. As the X-Wing begins to sink further, you can feel the tension mounting within Luke as Yoda is imploring him to use what he has learned and raise the X-Wing. Luke finally gives in and utters the phrase, “I’ll give it a try,” out of desperation. Yoda quickly responds with, “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try!” It is the depth of this phrase which catches my attention.
How many of you have said the words “I’ll try?” I know I have. What does that phrase actually mean? If you were to google it, most definitions you would find say something like, “to make an effort,” or “to make an attempt.” Now I don’t want to dismiss the importance of trying, because sometimes all it takes is an attempt to get something going. Here’s where try fails, in my opinion. To try is to me very open ended. I know with my kids, often times it gets frustrating because they simply won’t try something but will tell me it can’t be done. How do they know? They don’t. Often times, we set goals in our lives or we say things we want out of life, but we limit ourselves by “trying.” In my history in the health and wellness industry, I’ve seen many people say they are going to “try” to lose weight, they were going to “try” to eat better, they were going to “try” to exercise more. This is where I see the shortfall with try. In the definition of try, there is no quantifiable amount of making an attempt. How many of us have made an effort knowing full well it isn’t going to be enough? Still, we do it anyway so that we can say we tried, but failed.
This is where I believe Yoda is pushing Luke, and anyone who hears his words in my opinion, to be more. This is something I strive to teach my patients, my kids, and even myself. Where trying fails is that an attempt has been made, but it allows for us to abandon our goals. Sometimes our goals are hard. Sometimes they seem unreachable. One of my personal goals is to get back to the point where I could run a 20 minute 5k. Since my ankle injury it has seemed almost impossible. Plus, I’m not as young as I once was. However, it is something I have committed to do. That is the major difference in my eyes between “do” and “try” is commitment. Setting out to do something means that no matter what circumstances get in the way, you are committed to getting the task done. There is no exit strategy. You go until the job is done. Until you have reached your goal.
If you have a goal you have failed at in the past, here are some strategies that I think Yoda would agree with.
1. Tell everyone. If you truly want to succeed at your goal, the more people you tell the better off you will be. Those people will often become accountibility partners that can offer words of encouragement when you are discouraged.
2. Put your goal on your mirror. I hope you brush your teeth every day. Not only is it good hygeine, but it is a great place to set your self up for success. Write down your goals on a sticky-note and post it on your mirror. Seeing it everyday will increase your likelihood of success.
3. Do it. Do that which you are wanting to accomplish. Say it’s eat healthier. Eat some form of raw fresh fruits or veggies with every meal. If you are wanting to exercise more, add in some counter-top pushups or some squats at your desk to increase your follow through. Don’t make the goal to try, set your self up to do that which you want over and over and over until you can’t stand it any more and then watch yourself succeed.
I hope these strategies help you in your journey.
Yours in Health,
Dr. James Ashley, DC