Doing Vs. Trying: What’s the Difference & Why Does it Matter?


May was a tough month for me.

It was tough for what felt like A LOT of reasons–personal, financial, business–but I recently realized it was mostly because of one reason.

Too much trying.

I had had to do a lot of hard things for the past several months, and all that trying was wearing me down until I finally felt miserable.

Why couldn’t I just do instead?

What the Heck is the Difference?

I’m a do-er. I do things. I make things. I like taking action. I like to execute, and I like to finish.

Doing suits me.

Doing has no agenda really, other than the task at hand. Doing has no heaviness.

I’m also a try-er.

Sometimes this is healthy, like the way I’m very willing to try new things I don’t know how to do.  I’ll give it a try–what the heck.

Sometimes it’s less healthy, like when I try hard to do things right. When I try to succeed. When I try to make something happen. No “what the heck” attached.

This kind of trying has lots of emotional heaviness associated with it. Lots of striving. The effort, the doing, is all wrapped up in the outcome.

Trying = Doing + Drama

As I was trying to figure out how to make myself feel better, I assessed my to-do list. There wasn’t much I could leave out, except the way I felt about what I needed/wanted to get done.

I realized if I could just do them without all the emotional heaviness of trying to get them all right/perfect/successful, I’d be a lot happier.

I’m good at doing, but I was so busy trying that I poisoned the integrity of the tasks at hand. I was ruining my doing with all my trying.

So now I’m focused on the “doing” without the drama of the “trying”.

And since I also have other unhelpful beliefs attached to trying such as “trying=being virtuous” and “trying=being-serious-about-what-I’m-doing”, it’s good at quietly slipping in the back door unnoticed when I’m busy working on something.

But that’s okay. It’s a process.

Your Creativity

How about you? Are you also trying instead of doing?

Is it hard to weave creativity back into your life because what you want to make would be hard and you’d really have to try?

Is it hard to go deeper or get bolder with your art because you don’t have the energy for that kind of trying right now?

What if you didn’t have to try? What if you allowed yourself the endless opportunity of doing instead?

To “do instead of try” combines honoring the present with being committed to the long haul of your life. What a generous, loving, forgiving way to be allowed to move through time.

What the heck–why not give it a try? ;-)

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  1. OMGosh this hits home today!
    I have a big fiber commission that all the little elements I had figured out in my head have decided not to work. I too am a doer. I will work on something completely different, all the while letting the other project *stew* in my brain and then I have the vision and I *DO* it.
    Now I am *trying* to figure out what the heck to DO with the mess I have and cannot get my mind around or away from it long enough to figure things out.
    For me, trying is a word that fits fine as in just nibbling, tasting, getting an introduction, not being too serious.
    Doing is everything. It’s the real deal. It means something will be finished and finished well.
    Trying seems to mean I will not own whatever it is, where doing is product, tangible, my work, done, complete, success.
    Thank you for letting me pull back long enough to see what is going on in this head of mine!


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