Often, we use the wrong strategies again and again, hoping that they’ll yield different results. It’s like trying to open a door with the wrong key or continuing down the wrong road to reach a destination. It doesn’t matter how much time or effort you invest; you’re just not going to succeed!

It also doesn’t matter if the effort isEverything comes with an instruction book spiritual, physical, emotional or material; it has to be the right step. That’s why so many people fail—not because they’re not trying hard enough, but because they’re simply doing the wrong thing.

Let’s take a look at 12 strategies for doing something right the first time and making it work.

1. Follow instructions. Whatever it is you want to do, find out how to do it. Whether it’s baking a cake, making a basketball shot, applying for a job, or putting on tefillin, find someone who knows how to do it and ask for specific instructions. Everything comes with an instruction book. Even life comes with a guide: the Torah. That’s a user guide for the world.

2. Notice what’s not working and change course. If you’re not succeeding, don’t try and try again; try differently. Change your words, your tone, your approach, your angle, your clothes, your strategy, your mindset. For something to give, it has to change.

3. Keep your word and commitments. Nothing but nothing sabotages your efforts more than not being consistent or true to your word. Do and mean what you say. Honesty isn’t the best policy, it’s the only policy. Emet (“truth”) is the seal of G‑d. The Hebrew alphabet begins with the first letter of emet (aleph), ends with the last letter (tav) and the middle letter is mem. These letters forming emet at either side and in the center of the alphabet are there to teach us that words must be spoken with complete integrity.

4. Don’t be hasty. While alacrity is a good character trait, haste isn’t. There’s a subtle difference between the two that often means the difference between success and failure. Think things through; don’t just say yes (or no) right away. Act quickly, but cautiously. Alacrity is a construct of efficiency and humility. Haste is the result of impatience.

5. Practice restraint. Almost all commandments are predicated upon self-control, restraint and a certain level of self-denial. Patience and giving in are traits worthy of emulation. When we practice these traits, we become stronger and emulate G‑d. Moreover, we are making space for the needs, wants and missions of other people.

6. Know yourself. Reb Zusha said that no one is going to ask him in the Next World why he wasn’t like Moses, but they will ask him why he wasn’t like Zusha. We have to know our limits and our capabilities, our strengths and our weaknesses, so we can act accordingly. Having a false impression of ourselves doesn’t fool anyone but us.

7. Be flexible. Jews are known to be a stiff-necked people. That is how they have been able to survive millennia of persecution and wandering with their faith and religion intact. But they are also extremely flexible, and that’s how they have been able to adapt to every culture and circumstance they have found themselves in, often thriving more than the host population itself. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to initiate a new way of thinking or doing.

8. Admit when you’ve made a mistake. Teshuvah is a key element of Jewish observance. If you’ve been wrong or if you’ve wronged someone else, admit it, make amends and resolve not to do it again. Otherwise, you’re doomed to repeat the same mistake. The definition of teshuvah is “return.” It’s a changing of direction.

9. Don’t squander your resources in a negative way. Don’t use your words for gossip or slander; don’t use your money or your talents for questionable gain. Don’t expend your efforts trying to change other people instead of yourself. Use everything at your disposal for strengthening your connection to what’s good and positive in the world, and you will strengthen your connection to G‑d in the process.

10. Strive to help others. When your success is linked to the success of others, you have a greater chance of success because you’re working for the common good. Helping others is one of the most gratifying experiences and the real measure of success. It’s what G‑d wants from us in every situation.

11. Ask for advice. Find out what you’re doing wrong. If you’re having trouble getting a job, maintaining a relationship, balancing your budget or reaching a specific goal, ask for feedback to find out what’s not working. People love to tell you what you’re doing wrong (even though we don’t like to hear it because it sounds like criticism). But if you ask someone to please kindly tell you why what you’re doing isn’t working, you could gain some really valuable information that will help you change your life. Look for a mentor—someone who has been successful in what you’re trying to accomplish. Pirkei Avot says, “Make for yourself a rabbi and acquire a friend.” Find someone who can teach you and someone who will help you learn.

12. Pray. Of course, there’s no success without G‑d. So pray to Him. It will also help clarify your goals for yourself when you put them into words of supplication. Research what G‑d wants from you in order to give you the good you’re seeking. Do you want affluence? Do your work honestly, tithe, don’t work on Shabbat and appreciate all you have. Do you want respect and authority? Then give it to others. The efforts you make in the spiritual realm are just as important, if not more, than any physical effort you might make.