Coffee Talk with Vanessa Michelle | Are you ‘trying’ or doing?

Writing by Vanessa Michelle

So far, 2020 has been filled with social distancing, washing masks a million times and Zoom meetings! I don’t think any of us saw this coming from a mile away. One of the most interesting things I didn’t see coming was the amount of free time I have to self-reflect. I’ve seriously been enjoying reflecting on the decisions I’ve been making up to this point, from relationships to home décor to my health and business and beyond. 

As a result of these reflections, I decided to start working on my physical health. I hired an amazing trainer, CiAndre Johnson-Lollar, the owner and operator of Limitless Fitness Training Center. Our first session was amazing and, being the journalist that I am, I had 100 questions for him, from how he started to equipment sourcing. CiAndre has his own training facility and he is only 25!

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Coffee Talk with Vanessa Michelle | Change is Among Us

As we were training, he described his journey and his passion for helping others stay healthy. I told him I was really happy for him and all that he had accomplished thus far. His response was, “Oh wow, thank you, I’m trying.” 

I felt fire shoot through my chest to my stomach, and it wasn’t from the crunches! I stopped our workout and told CiAndre not to use that word: “try.” He laughed.

I told him, “No! You’re not trying. You’re doing.”

I wanted CiAndre to understand and acknowledge his success. Trying and doing are two totally different things! This is not to say he doesn’t recognize his successes — maybe he was just being humble. But since then, I’ve been thinking: Can we just trash the word “try?” Or at least become more intentional about using it? I need to do a better job at using the word correctly as well. 

Sometimes, like in CiAndre’s case, “try” minimizes our triumphs. He used ‘try’ to describe what was already accomplished. Instead of using it to describe something that he was waiting on or in process to do.  I’m a big believer in self-talk. I think we all have to be mindful of the words we speak, because they play a huge role in how we feel about our self-worth, our work, our relationships and beyond. I don’t think we celebrate our accomplishments long enough or give them the praise they deserve. I think that’s due to the way the world promotes humility. Humility is important, to a degree — nobody likes arrogance — but  I want us, even myself, to boost up accomplishments and talk about them more openly. Not with ego, but with a sense of self-pride. Is that so bad? 

On the other hand, there are times when I think “try” can be a cover-up for excuses. It keeps us operating in the unknown. It creates ambiguity, which can cover up inaction. “I’m trying” sometimes actually means “I want to do that someday, but haven’t actually taken concrete steps.” In May, I told myself I was trying to get my business organized, but I wasn’t! Ha! I couldn’t even tell you the actions I was taking. But I kept telling people that I was trying just so it could seem like I was busy for a reason. 

In reality, I was enjoying my home and my design work. But there was a sense of personal guilt because I felt as though I should be more accountable for my business by now. I was “trying” for the duration of the month, but I felt like I wasn’t doing ANYTHING for my business. That’s why I’m a stickler about self-talk and this filler word.

Then I became really clear on what my “try” looked like, practically. When I did that, I noticed that my true desire was to get a better money tracker and project management tool. Now I’m using Paypal and Asana to help me! I feel very strong about my business being organized now. No more trying for me!

This is the perfect time to reflect on whether your “try” is a humble bypass — either an excuse for what you’re not doing or a cover-up for all your coolness. Really take time to reflect on the areas that you say you’re trying in. Are you really trying? What actions validate that, like, literally? It’s OK to admit that you’re not giving attention to certain areas of your life. You might be embarrassed, but I’d rather that you be embarrassed than that you keep lying to yourself and others about what you’re doing. 

Get clear on what your ‘try’ actually is, and what it looks like in practice, for the remainder of 2020. Figure out what you really want to do so that, as my friend Celeste Johnson would say, “You’ll make your next move your best move!”

Follow CiAndre Johnson-Lollar on Instagram at @limitlesstrainingllc. 

Vanessa Michelle is a full-time YouTuber who has created a platform for creatives everywhere!  Her journey to journalism started at the University of Akron, where she was an on-air personality and TV host for WZIP-FM and ZTV Akron. Vanessa has been featured in local publications as “The Oprah of YouTube” and one of Akron’s most unique entrepreneurs.