Trying too hard can ruin your journey through life

Bryan Golden

"Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching."

It sounds ridiculous, but it is possible to try too hard. If you are constantly stressed, you may be trying too hard. If the slightest setback, obstacle, or challenge creates a major disappointment, you are trying too hard.
Life is a journey, not a destination. Those who focus on a destination, shortchange themselves. Often, we spend too much energy focusing on our destination instead of enjoying the journey that gets us there. When you savor your journey, you will reach your destination more expediently. If you try too hard, you are more apt to give up out of frustration should you encounter adverse circumstances.
Richard loves to play tennis. When he was first learning, he was so fixated on hitting the ball that he tensed every muscle in his arm as the ball was flying toward him. Since he was so rigid, he couldn't swing the racket freely enough to hit the ball.
Richard's instructor told him he was trying too hard. He advised Richard that the only way to swing with speed and power was to keep his body relaxed. He also suggested Richard should just have fun rather than becoming fixated on winning. Richard followed his coach's recommendation. His game improved along with his enjoyment.
A tennis player who takes pleasure from the game progresses much faster than someone who is concerned only with winning and is sullen any time he loses. When a person who loves tennis doesn't win a match, he is undeterred. He now has a great time and looks forward to every game.
Julie, a college professor, is often asked by her students what material will be on the next test. She tells them to concentrate on learning the subject matter rather than worrying about what will be on the exam. Julie informs her students that if they just study to pass a test they will quickly forget what they have learned. But if they come to class to learn, the new knowledge will be retained much longer.
Cheryl, a martial artist, used to always get hit during sparring. Although she had been training for a number of years, Cheryl seemed unable to avoid many of her opponent's attacks. The harder she tried to evade her adversary, the more vulnerable Cheryl felt.
On the verge of giving up her martial art, Cheryl sought help from Dan, her instructor. Dan explained she was trying too hard. She was so consumed with evading an attack that her body locked up. Dan pointed out Cheryl's rigid muscles prevented her from moving effectively in order to protect herself.
Dan told Cheryl the best way to avoid being hit was to not care if she got hit. Then her body would stay relaxed, enabling her to move in a manner necessary to defend herself. Cheryl was amazed at the results when she implemented Dan's suggestion. She found her movement, speed, and enjoyment increased substantially. As a result, she was hit rarely, if at all. Dan's advice seemed contradictory but it was true. Cheryl got hit when she was worried about getting hit. When she didn't care about getting hit, she effectively evaded attacks.
Examine your situation. Are there areas in which you are trying too hard? Is arriving at your destination of paramount importance or are you appreciating the journey? Relaxing more, mentally and physically, will improve all aspects of your life.

NOW AVAILABLE: "Dare to Live Without Limits," the book. Visit or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at or write him c/o this paper.  2023 Bryan Golden


The Press

The Press
1550 Woodville Road
Millbury, OH 43447

(419) 836-2221

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Ohio News Media Association