It’s probably not a fashionable thing to say, but it is possible to ‘try too hard’.
And people do it a lot.
‘Trying hard’ shouldn’t mean burning yourself out. Or feeling horrendous, because you failed, despite your best efforts (having ‘should have tried harder’)…
Effort expended and attachment to outcomes exists in a polarity. There’s ‘too much’ and ‘too little’.
And you can take both of these things to their (il)logical extremes..
This is the neurosis that some call ‘Workahol’
Striving too hard, wanting too much, these things inevitably lead to unhappiness when things eventually fail or don’t go to plan.
True, a lot of people make next to no effort at all, and it shows. They’re on one end of the continuum. They’re never disappointed any specific failure, they’re usually just disappointed with life on the whole.
But it is possible to burn out and try too hard. A minority of people do this, but they do it spectacularly. They’re on the other end of the continuum. These are the unhappy workaholics.
Achieving nothing and working yourself into a grave are both taking this ‘effort’ thing way too far in opposite directions.
The Japanese, masters of obsessively pushing any skill or phenomena to it’s outer limits, have a phenomena called Karōshi – literally “death from overwork”.
These are people who give themselves heart attacks and strokes cos they’re trying so bloody hard.
So yes, surely there is a sweet spot between giving no fucks at all, and being too invested in achieving a certain outcome.
18 hour workdays might be a warning sign.
The recipe is perhaps to care, but not too much.
Never enter a situation or negotiation that you can’t walk away from. Never need too much from one thing or person. Never make yourself emotionally or spiritually vulnerable when you don’t need to. And never say never!
Burn brightly but don’t burn out…