Whether You Can or Can’t, You Can Always Try

Photo by Moritz Mentges on Unsplash

Do or do not, there is no try.


This is one of those clever quotes that get passed around quite often.

When it’s do or die, most people tend to do.

But what if it’s not? What if you won’t die if you don’t write the blog post if you don’t send the e-mail?

Sometimes we don’t have to step outside our comfort zone. Sometimes we don’t have to take massive action in order to reach a certain goal.

And sometimes we just can’t do it, and the Nike approach to life is only going to frustrate us into giving up or having a mental breakdown.

What if You Can’t?

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.”

Henry Ford

Have you ever chosen not to do something because you were absolutely certain you’d fail?

You were so sure you couldn’t, so you didn’t even try.

It felt impossible, and the thing with impossible is that:

a. You can’t do it.

b. It’s only two letters too long.

Doing the impossible will lead to for failure. But if we aim to do the bit that’s possible, if we just give it a try, then we might surprise ourselves by becoming good enough to do what we previously thought of as impossible.

The obvious paradox is that you never know if something’s impossible or not unless you try.

You Never Know Unless You Try

“Ever Tried. Ever Failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Samuel Beckett

We often don’t want to even try for fear of failure. But there’s a big difference between doing and trying.

Let’s say you want to get in shape. The obvious steps are to work out. If you were to try to spend an hour in the gym, after having spent the last decade or so on the couch, you will have a bad time. A really bad time.

But if you just try, if you go for a fifteen-minute walk today, a twenty-minute walk tomorrow, you will soon condition your mind to break down the impossible into a set of tiny actions.

You get to write a five thousand word essay by writing that first word into existence.

That’s it. Just one word.

Of course, once you manage to write that word, if you want to do more, if you feel you can do more, you will do more.

Remember, this is trying, not doing.

In trying, there are no failures. In trying, there’s no pressing need to get it done.

The same advice works wonders when you don’t feel like getting something done: try it for fifteen minutes or so. Tell yourself that. You don’t have to get it done, just try it.

Odds are you’ll build enough momentum to keep going for far longer than the initial fifteen minutes.

This is a trick I use in all areas of my life because I have a chronic condition of “I don’t want to do it” which is even worse than feeling like you can’t do it.

If you make the goal of trying so small that it takes almost no effort for you to try, you are effectively getting rid of all the pressure you are placing on yourself by thinking that you must either do it or not.

It’s far easier to put the world on your shoulders if you know you can always shrug.

“Those who don’t jump will never fly.”

Leena Ahmad Almashat

Our attitude always determines our altitude in life. When we think we can’t do something, there’s no reason to even try.

It’s better to try something than to give up without even attempting just because you believe that you must do it.

Edison’s famous invention of the light bulb stands testimony to just how powerful such a mindset is. The trick that allowed him to persevere until successful was that he re-framed his failures as, “finding ways that don’t work.”

You, like Edison, must try to do it before you can decide if it can or can’t be done.

Always try. At least once or twice. It’s far better than doing nothing because it can’t be done.


  1. It’s better to the First step than half done.
    I don’t know if the above idiom is right or wrong. Nevertheless, we must give a try as the 2-minute rule says; at least two minutes do that work which you don’t wanna do or can not do.

    Liked by 3 people

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