Yoda had it wrong

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

I get it, Jedi Master, but I’m not so sure I believe it.

There are times when I work my tail off, goal in mind, with a clear path to succeed. But sometimes, I’ve set unreasonable expectations, or not enough time, or maybe just unexpected stuff gets in the way.

For most of my life, I’d beat myself up over falling short like that. “The effort doesn’t matter,” I’d think, “only the end result.” A stern lecture from my inner Yoda.

But when it came time for my latest personal test, I thought I’d go a little easier on myself. If you’ve ever met me, it’s been in one of these three situations: I had a can of pop in my hand; I had a can waiting on my desk or table; or I was on my way to get some pop. I don’t drink coffee, but I drink enough soda that a friend once told me that when I said I was drinking water, she assumed I really meant I was having a Coke. I used to drink so much Vault, it looked like they sponsored me.

Four months of pop tops.

Flipping my lids from February-May.

For four months this year, I kept tabs (literally) on how much I was drinking. And on Memorial Day, I decided I would — not quit, entirely, but scale way back. I would try. I would not go cold turkey.

I went five headache-filled days before cracking open a can. And then another four after that. A little more than a month into this test, I’ve had a total of nine. Yoda wouldn’t call this a victory, but I sure do. Here’s why:

This week, as an early morning conference call was kicking off, a co-worker in a remote office mentioned he hadn’t had his coffee yet, and asked if I’d had my Coke. When I told him I was cutting back, he said something like, “Oh, I tried that once. I made it one day, and then I cracked.” And he’s back to however much coffee he was drinking before.

He viewed it as a failure. Isn’t there enough pressure, enough imperfection in our lives that we can allow ourselves some gray area? This is exactly why I’m on the “cut way back” plan instead of ¬†going cold turkey. It’s an occasional treat — or, yes, a relief — to pop open a can. But I can say I’m having about two cans a week instead of two a day, and that feels like a giant win. My glass (of water) is half-full. That helps keep me motivated.

I understand I’ll never make it as a Jedi, but I think I’ll be happy just the same.

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