Try The Old Try, Try, Try Again Method When You Fail

Remember that old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed: Try, try, try again. This is age-old wisdom, but we need to add something important into the mix.

Try, try again: Photo of woman with hands up in the air.

William Edward Hickson was a British educational writer. He lived from 1803-1870. Among other things, Hickson is known for popularizing the old proverb:

‘Tis a lesson you should heed:

Try, try, try again.

If at first you don’t succeed:

Try, try, try again.

The saying can be traced back even further to the writings of Thomas H. Palmer.

It’s Good To Try Again, But Beware

The only way we improve at something is through repetition and practice. This is good and true. But if we continue to fail at something there might be a problem. 

Take minimalism for instance. If your goal is to declutter and live with less stuff, you have to change your habits. You can’t continue to buy things you don’t need. You have to let go of things you don’t use. Otherwise, you’ll continue to fail.

If a baseball player keeps striking out, he needs to evaluate his swing and make some changes. 

If you keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results: According to Albert Einstein, you’re insane.

You May Not Be Crazy, But You Will Keep Failing

If you want new results, you have to evaluate your performance and then try again. Experiment with different methods. Use new angles. Practice new patterns.

Minimalism might seem like it’s something plain and simple. It’s not. Minimalism at its core might even be more complex than the popular. Take minimalist music for example. Many minimalist compositions actually have many more subtle changes than a pop song.

Becoming a minimalist is not simple. It takes time. You don’t reach your goal overnight and there’s not a one-method-suits-all path to get there. 

So if you’re trying to live a minimalist lifestyle, but feel like you’re failing. Evaluate what works and what doesn’t. Then, simply try again.

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  1. I have decluttered many times over the last few years, but this is the first year I’ve realized I have to alter the spending side of it. So I’m doing a no-shopping year to re-evaluate my relationship to money and stuff.

    But I was reminded by the post of one of my favorite quotes, by W.C. Fields: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.”

    1. Yes, the spending side is very important. I’ve never done the full year without spending thing, but I did go two years without buying any new clothing a couple of years ago. I just wore out the excess clothes I had in my closet.

  2. Hello Dan
    Yes, you are right, it is important to analyse and reflect upon our failures.
    It does not suffice with trying again and again.
    Just mindlessly trying again will lead to more failure and frustration.
    I have tried to simplify my life and declutter
    It has been a total disaster.
    I have got rid of things I really, really wanted/enjoyed/needed while at the same time I have kept/increased stuff I really, really don’t want/need/enjoy.
    How stupid!
    Why is that?
    Because I don’t know myself.
    Think about it.
    When you are gonna give someone a present, you wonder “what can make him/her happy?”
    If you don’t know the person, you at least want to know if it is a woman or a man, then his/her age, then what does he/she does for a living, etc, etc. The more you know about the person, the better you are at making him/her happy.
    It happen with our relationship to ourselves.
    Minimalism is all about ourselves, a relationship with ourselves.
    The stuff we buy and keep tells volumes about ourselves.
    Talk about anthropology.
    Anthropologists know what ancient people did and enjoyed by analysing the stuff and items those ancient people collected and/or used.
    If you don’t know yourself you will always fail at minimalism and decluttering.
    It is about knowing what makes you truly happy and how you change your passions over time.
    When you were kid maybe you were happy with your toys. You grow, you want musical instruments or sports or photography gear, you get older you want something different.
    But you can not have it all!!
    At some point something must be more important to you.
    If you don’t know what is the most important thing to you then you might fail at decluttering.
    One needs to negotiate with oneself.
    “Ok, I will get rid of this but I will keep that…”
    Im afraid negotiation is the only way to go minimalist.
    To keep something at the price of getting rid of something else…

  3. Joe, I think you are spot on! I have been through much the same process as you and I believe you are so right – we DO need to know ourselves well (or at least better). This can help in all areas of our lives actually. I’m still working on this myself. It’s a life long process, to be honest. I once heard it said, “if it’s not an absolute yes, it’s a no…”. I am endeavoring to live by those words.

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