One of my favorite quotes, usually attributed (likely wrongly) to Albert Einstein, says:
“Insanity Is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results.”
By the same token, you’ve likely heard the old proverb attributed to Thomas Palmer:
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Don’t give up too easily; persistence pays off in the end.”
Combined, these form something of a paradox. So just where do you draw the line between repetition and recognizing it no longer serves you?
This is not an easy question with an easy answer. It can be a very fine line between too many attempts, and not giving something enough energy. Also, where in some instances do you know after a single attempt if it’s time to move on, versus giving it two or three attempts?
Most importantly, while it is a good idea to make more than one attempt, it’s imperative to alter something in each one.
That is the real place where the difference lies between these two ideas.
Doing versus trying
Probably my most favorite quote of all is from Yoda:
“Try not. Do or do not, there is no try.”
This also gets into the nitty-gritty of where these two paradoxical notions differ. Doing the same thing over is a different energy from try, trying again.
Doing is a word of action. As I write weekly:
“Finding positivity is not hard, but it does require action.”
When it comes to any attempt at manifestation and conscious reality creation, while mindfulness covers the thought and feeling, it is intentional action that builds and creates anything. Doing is another word for acting.
Trying is softer. It is less actionable, and leaves more wiggle room. Trying is not the same as doing, because it leaves room for excuses, procrastination, and giving it less than your all. That’s the entire reason why Yoda makes his famous statement when Luke says that he’ll try. That’s not good enough. Do it.
However, that doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t try something again when they fail the first time. How does that work? If at first you don’t succeed, make another attempt. But not exactly as you did before — change it up. Alter some aspect of what you were doing to strive for the desired result.
How many times do you do or try any given thing?
That really does depend on what results you are seeking. Let’s say you are performing a science experiment to develop a new drug to cure some disease. You wouldn’t mix the same exact formula over and over and over again to get a new result. You’d change it. Different ingredients, different measurements, and so on.
Most likely, you would continue this until you run out of variations, or conclude the base formula idea is flawed.
Now let’s say you are trying to land the perfect job. You wouldn’t reapply to the same company over and over and over again to get a different answer. You wouldn’t use the same resume and cover letter if you get no interviews. You would tweak your resume and your cover letter until you get more interview requests; then you would work on interview skills if you are not getting offers.
Most likely, you would continue until you run out of companies to apply to, or conclude that you should choose a new career path, or find some other professional assistance, OR decide maybe you need to start you own damned company.
Insanity is making no changes to your approach. Persistence and trying more than once is good, but also you need to alter things. One attempt is seldom all you should give anything, but you need to know how to alter what you do in the second attempt, third attempt, or more.
Where do you draw the line?
To some degree, this is a matter of pain tolerance. How many rejections or failures can you handle? Do you feel as strongly about the thing you desire to get or create with each attempt? Do you still desire the same result?
Only you have the answer. But with mindfulness, you will better recognize it, and see when you have reached the end.
Being aware of what you are thinking and how you are feeling will tell you where you are in this process. Keep repeating the idea, or acknowledge it needs to be let go of or majorly changed. When you give it thought and feel it out, you will better recognize if you should try anew, try again, or if you are skirting insanity.
The main thing here is to make an attempt. Choose the idea to pursue, and then do it. Don’t wait for the right time, don’t hesitate, don’t second guess yourself. Do it.
Nothing is permanent. Take a chance, make an attempt to run with an idea. If it fails, try again, let it go, or move on. You only live once, so live intentionally.