Illustration: Jen Troyer

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By this I mean, are you trying with everything you’ve got—your mind, you heart, your muscles, your esophagus and all your forgotten obscure organs? If the answer is yes, then you can skip to the next question; you already realize that the most reliable path to glory is base brute effort.

If the answer is no, then you need to decide why. Is it the project that’s stopping you (you just don’t want to give that much on, say, making homemade soy candles) or is it your fear of being humiliated if you fail, having openly and fully used all of your resources? In the case of the former: You need to find something else to pursue.

Regarding the latter: Such fear is understandable. Committing to an effort that takes all of you also risks all of you. If you go splat and fail, you’ll have no feasible excuse. It wasn’t as if you waited until the last minute or blew your energy on something else. You dug down all the way to the lining of your soul. The upside, though, is that you will never, ever have to stay up at night pondering what you could have done differently or lie to yourself about what you actually did. You will end up at some kind of a peace, a place where failure might not feel like failure. It might feel like a setback for the project—or even a success for you as a human being.