Why 'trying harder' doesn't work - for anything

My two year old has hit the independent phase of her life. She wants to do everything herself, whether it's getting dressed, going to the potty, putting on sunscreen - whatever.

Sometimes she starts to do something and realises she can't do it, so she tries harder. She presses the puzzle piece down with a little grunting noise, or tugs on the lid of the playdough with a grimace on her face. She's trying as hard as she can, but she's just not successful. The extra effort she's putting in is being completely wasted, when all she really needs to do is move the piece around so it could slide easily into the slot, or move her hands the other way on the lid.

What she really needs to do is observe what she's doing, test it to see if it's working or not and tweak her technique. If that doesn't work, she needs to ask for help from someone who knows how to do it, listen and look to find out how it's done, practice for a while and readjust until she's got it. It's all about thinking, learning, watching and changing.

When my older daughter began swimming she was pretty fast but she wanted to go faster so we worked with a friend who is also an experienced coach. He told her that her technique was everything. If she could tweak the technique she would get faster much quicker than just by trying harder to do more and more laps.

I used to be someone who 'tried hard' - at lots of skills, tasks and achievements, but also things like being nice to people, being patient and doing the right thing. I could see that things I was doing weren't working so I did what I thought would help and put a lot of effort in, but over time, I got tired.

These days, any time I start to 'try' I get fatigued really quickly. It's then I realise that I need to be aware of my thought processes, adjust what I'm actually doing and then practice doing it in the new way.

Do you 'try hard' in your life? How does it work for you?