Do, or do not. There is no try… Yes, that is a Star Wars quote.
As I suspected, Yoda’s wisdom knows no bounds… because, although directed toward dismantling the Galactic Empire, this statement is also highly relevant to running and quite frankly, life in general.
Saying “I will try to…” is something that everyone does. It is a scapegoat phrase; we use it when we know we won’t actually do the thing we say we are going to try to do… but “at least we tried” right?
Students probably do this more than the average human – “I know I’m going out tonight, but I am definitely going to try to make my 9am lecture” or “I know I’ve been surviving on pasta, crisps and coffee, but I’m going to try to be healthy this week.” It just doesn’t happen.
The reason for failure may not be caused by a lack of trying, nor even a lack of wanting to succeed; the reason lies within the phrase’s psychological implications. “I will try” not only makes failure an option but almost gives you permission to fail (so you don’t push yourself).
In my last blog post I spoke about how beliefs of self can determine the outcomes of your endeavours because they dictate how we feel about and respond to experiences. The words “I will” provide undertones of confidence and conviction, whereas “I will try” implies self-doubt.
Research focusing on the Theory of Planned Behaviour provides evidence for the importance of intentions in success. It found that intentions (i.e. “I will try to lose weight Vs. “I am determined to lose weight”) strongly correlated with perceived control (belief in your own capability) as well as attitude, as well as correlating significantly with success.
SO, if you simply try, you are more likely to give up at the first hurdle or change of circumstance and research supports this. I also spoke briefly about changing beliefs through honest evaluation of successes and perseverance, however, there is a shortcut…
Life Hack: Self-Talk Edition
Self-talk is something we all do; it is a kind of inner monologue which evaluates what you do as you’re doing it. It is not dissimilar to the commentary that accompanies any sports game on TV, only instead, you’re both the subject and the commentator.
Negative self-talk can really damage a person. Like most bad habits, negative self-talk is
something which develops in childhood; if you grow up hearing “no” and “you can’t” regularly, the themes become internalised and negative talk becomes automatic.
I had never been good at endurance sports growing up, and this had been re-affirmed by PE teachers and family; thus, when I initially tried to run long-distance, when I came to a hurdle, I thought “this makes sense, I am as bad at this as I have always been.” Instead, I should have told myself (like I do now) that I am capable of pushing through, if not this time then the next.
Positive self-talk occurs when you mentally affirm something good about yourself or what you have done, for example, “I am good at this,” or “I’m not 100% now but I will get better.” People do this are often their own internal cheerleaders and tend to be optimistic about their outcomes. Positive self-talk is thought to make you more confident, like yourself more and increase your success! I know us Brits are the self-proclaimed best at being self-deprecating – its our culture… but, if you are struggling with your self-image, you may want to develop new habits.
The handy thing is (get ready for an amaze-balls life-hack) you can train your mind to replace negative commentary with positive affirmations and this can drastically improve life quality and outcomes! But keep at it… it takes practice.
Research has even applied this notion to endurance sports. Evidence suggests that motivational (“I can do this”) self-talk, alongside instructional (“Get to the finish-line”) self-talk significantly improves performance in endurance sports such as long-distance running!
A myriad of research has demonstrated that the positive effects of positive self-talk are applicable to a variety of situations. For example this paper shows that darts players who use positive self-talk are significantly better than those who are negative.
This blog has been the one which has resonated with me the most. I feel self-talk has been the main source of my running success thus far.
I felt this was particularly true during the Anglesey half marathon; the weather was a strong wind away from being the worst conditions I could have possibly imagined and i seriously struggled with the cold and the rain. I kept telling myself that I liked the rain and after a while I actually enjoyed running in it. Even when I was sore and my brain could no longer hold a positive thought, I ignored the negative and instead focused on instructional self-talk – “I will get to the finish line.”
- Do not try. DO.
- Telling yourself you will TRY something, allows for failure
- Telling yourself you WILL inspires conviction
- Believe in yourself and you will achieve
- Positive self-talk will help you believe in yourself
- Positive self-talk can be learned!
See you at the finish line!