applying oneself to something not known to be within one's ability
When there is a question as to the match-up of one's abilities to the demands of a task, one may still elect to attempt to complete the task. However, sometimes a character has lost sight of the purpose of the task or underestimated his progress and has actually done the work while continuing to try beyond the point originally aimed at. Why does one beat a dead horse? Why does a billionaire struggle to earn one more million?
syn. try, uncertain undertaking, speculative endeavor, dubious effort, endeavor, unlikely venture