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When you're trying too hard, it is time to worry

Over the years, there have been multiple times that I've tried too hard. Tried too hard to fit in with the cool kids, to impress people, to write a novel, among other things.

And I do not recollect a single time when trying too hard has resulted in the desired outcome. Always, without exception, my efforts have imploded in my face.

But this is only when I've tried too hard.

Looking back, I can see what was going wrong. The common thread across all these failures, besides me having tried too hard, is the fact that I wasn't myself in chasing any of these things.

I had constructed this idea in my head of how one should be in order to succeed in what I was doing and would do what it takes to live up to that image. But the problem was that I was trying to live in someone else's skin in doing so.

Living in someone else's skin is very uncomfortable. It is the equivalent of an air-hostess or a hotel receptionist that puts on a fake smile all through the day, unable to showcase their true emotions.

In trying to be something I wasn't, I was not just fooling (and failing) others around me, but I was fooling myself into thinking that was the right way to go about things.

This is why I only read stories and autobiographies as a source of inspiration and not as a way to identify traits and habits that I can replicate. All those articles that get a lot of clicks and eyeballs with titles like '7 habits of successful people' and '8 things to do before 8am to become Steve Jobs' are plain stupid.

While they make for catchy titles, they do nothing else. You and I can't be Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. We can be worse, we can be better or we can be just as effective. But we won't be them. We'll do it our way. Whatever way we are comfortable with.

This is the entire principle of wu-wei, which I've embraced (and continue to embrace) in the recent years. Not going out of the way to chase a goal or a dream or a way of life. But doing what seems most natural.

I still have goals, I still chase dreams. But I no longer try too hard or go out of my way to get it done. I live in my own skin.

And when not trying too hard, I'm not as worried about failure. I'm comfortable failing, because that's just a stepping stone to eventually getting there. There's no hurry.

Now, when I find myself trying too hard, I know that it is time to worry, to stop and to take a step back.

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