Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Are You Trying Too Hard?

Do you ever feel like the way to get better results is to try harder? Here’s a story that might give you reason to rethink that approach.

I’m training for a mountain bike race right now, putting in the time on the bike, using an app (Strava) to track my times. Last week, I went for a few rides. The first day was a warm-up ride, and I didn’t go too hard. I clocked reasonable times, including a surprising personal best on one segment of the trail I rode. Hmm, interesting.

The next day, I decided to step it up and push it harder. I was going to bust those personal bests! Focused on keeping speed right around the circuit, I arrived at the end exhausted. The result? Well, I did get a personal best on the second segment, but only by one second. I was also a little faster on the final segment. But for the first segment, I was six seconds slower than the day before. What’s going on there? (more…)