Why ‘Trying’ Alone Won’t Change Your Life

It’s time to define your win. After all, defining your win is how you begin.

So how do you determine your win? How is a goal conceived? While this can happen in all kinds of ways, it often happens when a pain point bubbles to the surface in your life. For an example, I’ll share how one of my goals was born.

I have six kids. That’s an entire starting hockey team.

I also have a church I pastor. A staff of hundreds I lead. Books I write. A podcast I produce. Conferences I speak at. Like you, my schedule stays pretty dang busy.

Over the years, my kids would sometimes ask me to do something. I would apologetically say no. I loved spending time with them but felt like I was just too busy. Something on my agenda seemed too pressing. My kids were getting older and my time with them shorter, but I still often felt forced to say no to time together.

One day, I was reading a book by Chip Heath and Dan Heath called The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact. Their words hit me like a Mike Tyson punch to the throat. I was reading the book for my job, trying to figure out how I could create amazing moments at church. But I should have been reading the book for my family. I needed to create amazing moments with my children.

I realized my church can find another pastor. Someone else can do a leadership podcast. (And there are many who do). But my kids will never have another dad. I needed to get better at prioritizing them.

Instantly, I defined a new win: to create moments of extraordinary impact with my kids. I didn’t want to miss any more opportunities with them, so I decided:

  1. If they initiated, I would say yes and do what they wanted to do for as long as they wanted to do it.
  2. I would initiate a meaningful conversation with them daily. (Not necessarily all of them every day. I mean, there are six!)
  3. I would initiate an activity they love weekly.


I was excited.

I should have been excited and apprehensive. I had no idea saying yes would lead to having my fingernails painted or to a bunch of teenage girls doing my hair. I could not have predicted the number of hours I would spend learning TikTok dances or playing pickleball. We also climbed a giant cross. We found our way onto the roof and catwalk of our church. I cannot count how many late-night fast-food and ice cream runs we have made. None of that fits with the rhythm of how I prefer to do life. I committed to doing what they wanted for as long as they wanted. I did not realize my son Stephen would want to play catch from now until Easter. Of 2029!

Defining and working toward my new win didn’t take shape the way I had imagined. It has taken far more time than I expected. Yet I have loved every minute. I had no idea that quality time with my kids would lead to unbelievably great conversations. I never anticipated my son would tell his friends, “My dad is my best friend.” Wow.

I started by defining my win: to create moments of extraordinary impact with my kids.

Have you defined your win? This step is so vital to creating real change. Defining your win is how you begin.

But spoiler alert: Defining the win is not how you win but how you begin. 

How do you win?

You quit trying.

What do winners do differently? What does the couple who celebrates thirty years of marriage do? What does the healthy, fit forty-year-old do? How about the family with no debt and with savings in the bank? The sports team standing on the podium?

They don’t try.

They train.

Trying doesn’t work. You’ve been trying for too long. Trying never achieves consistent results. We’ve seen it time and time again. 

The vicious cycle:

  • You try.
  • You get tired of trying.
  • You quit.
  • You feel embarrassed.
  • You regroup.
  • You try.
  • You get tired of trying.
  • (You know the drill.)


Trying doesn’t work. Training does.

What’s the difference?

To try is to attempt to do the right thing by exerting effort in the moment.

To train is to commit to developing strategic habits that equip you to do the right thing in the moment.

To finally experience the change and victory we desire, it’s essential that we understand the difference between trying and training. So read those definitions again until you’ve got it.

Let’s say you have a trying-based approach to change. The “moment” arrives. Like it usually does every day. You will have the opportunity to do the good thing you want to do. Or you will be hit with the temptation to do the bad thing you don’t want to do. In that moment, you will remember your goal. So you’ll muster all your willpower and determination and hope it’s enough to change. 

If you commit to a training-based approach to change, it’s not about the moment but about what you do before the moment comes. You engage in strategic habits, in deliberate disciplines, that equip you to be ready when the opportunity or temptation arises. If you train, when the moment arrives, you won’t need to try nearly as hard as you used to, but you’ll get better results!

Do you want to change? To achieve your win? Stop trying and start training.

Here’s one more definition of training that should be helpful: training is doing today what you can do today so you can do tomorrow what you can’t do today.

That leads us to the crucial question: What one strategic habit will have the most impact in leading you to your win?

Do you want to change? To achieve your win? I suggest you stop trying and start training to get the life you want.

Excerpted from The Power to Change by Craig Groeschel. Copyright © 2022 by Craig Groeschel. Used by permission of Zondervan. Zondervan.com.