Scott Adams, author of Dilbert, believes that trying to try is more effective than trying:
...my system is that I attempt to exercise five times a week around lunchtime. And I always allow myself the option of driving to the gym then turning around and going home. What I've discovered is that the routine of preparing to exercise usually inspires me to go through with it even if I didn't start out in the mood.[...]
If I had a goal instead of a system, I would have failed [when I didn't exercise]. And I would have felt like a loser. That can't be good for motivation. That failure might be enough to prevent me from going to the gym the next time I don't feel 100%, just to avoid the risk of another failure.
Regular Less Wrong readers will remember
But when we deal with humans, being satisfied with having a plan is not at all like being satisfied with success. The part where the plan has to maximize your probability of succeeding, gets lost along the way. It's far easier to convince ourselves that we are "maximizing our probability of succeeding", than it is to convince ourselves that we will succeed.
Almost any effort will serve to convince us that we have "tried our hardest", if trying our hardest is all we are trying to do.
Adams says the danger of trying is that you will fail in trying, which will bruise your self-esteem and cripple your motivation to try again. Yudkowsky says the danger of trying to try is that you will succeed in trying to try, leaving you too easily satisfied and unmotivated to actually do the thing you were trying to try to do.
Have any readers had success in trying to try?