The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”-attributed to Albert Einstein, but likely apocryphal

Whoever said it, you’ve probably heard this quotation at some point. And in one way or another, you’ve probably fallen into the trap of doing the same thing over and over, all the while expecting a different outcome.

I think the real danger of going insane doesn’t come from something new, but rather from something that we’ve been doing for a while. @chrisguillebeau (Click to Tweet!)

Most of us are smart enough to realize that if we try something new and it doesn’t work, we can’t just keep trying the same way and expect different results. We might try again, but we’ll usually switch up the tactic. Even mice in a maze will learn to adapt and attempt different solutions.

No, the greater problem comes when we’ve become conditioned to success. When something works for a while and then it stops working, that’s when it’s tough to change.

We don’t attempt the same thing over and over because we’re stupid, and it’s not because we don’t know any better. It’s just that we love the familiar. We are most at risk at repeating failures when they have worked for us in the past.

“Why isn’t it working?” we ask ourselves. “Maybe if I just try one more time, that will do it.”

Should you get back up and try again? Perhaps.

Or maybe you should try, try, again—but you should try again in a different way.

Chris Guillebeau is the New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness of PursuitThe $100 Startup, and other books. During a lifetime of self-employment, he visited every country in the world (193 in total) before his 35th birthday. Every summer in Portland, Oregon he hosts the World Domination Summit, a gathering of creative, remarkable people. His new book, Born for This, will help you find the work you were meant to do. Connect with Chris on Twitter, on his blog, or at your choice of worldwide airline lounge.

Image courtesy of mari lezhava.