My Facebook is currently a running list of hundreds upon hundreds of New Year's Resolutions.
For the last few days, I've trudged my way through pledges to getting fit, learning French, losing weight, finding God—of many variations—learning guitar, falling in love, growing vegetables, Tweeting less, reading more, and mastering the art of Giant Knitting (you'll have to look that one up).
I mean, don't get me wrong. I love a fresh start as much as anyone.
I'm the queen of announcing that I'm never drinking again (while battling a hangover), training for a marathon (after bikini shopping), or giving myself a budget (after dropping $650 at the outlets).
Nothing makes me feel better than big, fat, bold, public declarations of self-improvement. It's half the battle.
me: I'm gonna start eating healthy
Also me: treat yourself one last time, you deserve it pic.twitter.com/6p3TbaqKaU
— Common White Girl (@girlposts) December 22, 2016
So it is without judgement that I've scrolled through the New Testament of 2017 resolutions across my social media.
I've marveled at these little beacons of light, glimpses of the New And Improved You waving from the horizon. Glittery promises of future success. A light at the end of the festive-season-tunnel as you try to decide whether the leftover ham in the fridge is still OK to eat.
And yet, these bold New Year's Resolutions all have one thing in common: they will probably never happen. Or, if they do, it will be after a few fails first.
So in the age of our very own 24/7 social media stage show, maybe it's time we stood down out of the spotlight, and hold our nuggets of self-improvement close to our heart.
Why? To give yourself a chance to actually succeed.
There are two very different types of failure.
Firstly, there's the public kind. Usually reserved for politicians, celebrities, and contestants on Dancing With The Stars; public failure is a fall from grace that has a double impact.
You battle your own wounded pride, but also the jeering audience pointing and laughing.
My goal in 2016 was to lose 10 pounds. Only 15 more to go!#NewYearsResolution
— Rob Szczerba (@RJSzczerba) December 31, 2016
But on the other hand, there's private failure.
Away from prying eyes, it's less of a punch and more of a pinch to your own self-expectations. The non-televised version of missing the goal.
It's a little secret disappointment that you roll around in your mind, softening it up, until you eventually swallow it down and learn the lesson it was there to teach.
If public failure is falling from the sky with a heavy splat, private failure is more like drifting downward in a slightly shitty parachute and spraining your ankle when you hit the ground.
I hope the rest of today goes this well. pic.twitter.com/fzek41mlEs
— Leigh Sales (@leighsales) January 2, 2017
Now, consider social media's soapbox for 2017 New Year's Resolutions—it doesn't leave much room for failure.
A few decades ago you might have stood on a chair at your work Christmas party and promised everyone in the room you would speak fluent French by July; but these days, all it takes is a quick two line post to Facebook.
(Takes half the time, half the confidence, and you'll still earn yourself a good haul of eye-rolls and groans.)
Throw in a sprinkling of passive-aggressive snipes—preferably addressing 'the haters' or 'those who didn't believe in me'—and you've got all the makings of a very public fall from grace.
And there's nothing we love more these days than a public fall from grace.
So, an idea: keep your New Year's Resolution on the down-low.
Keep it tucked away in a pocket that no one will find.
Write it down, look at it every night. Chip away at it. Write a game plan. Lean into it and appreciate that you are the only person watching.
And if you don't succeed? Then you don't have to explain yourself to anyone.
Your New Year's Resolution failure will be private viewing for your bruised ego only.
No snarky comments or "I told you so's": just you, a goal, and a whole other year to make it happen. Instead of revealing your bare bottomed shortcomings to 3,892 of your *closest friends* online, it will be your own story to tell.
After all, it takes a few goes to get those goals in check.
Maybe it takes a few different French classes before you learn your croissant from your concombre. Maybe you can only nail one mile runs for a few months. And goddammit, I'm more than sure Giant Knitting isn't going to be a walk in the park for the first couple of attempts.
New year, new shoes (thanks Santa & @cruickshanksfamily), new training journal (thanks @fionax_ ) & first race number of the year for my first race of 2017 this Saturday! ????????✨ #motivation #motivated #runner #running #athletics #athlete #sport #girlswhorun #distancerunner #distancerunning #runners #runnersofinstagram #fitness #fitnessmotivation #nike #nikerunning #runnergirl #girlswhorun #2017 #newyear #newyearsresolution
A photo posted by Jennifer (@jennnnbear) on
However, if you do happen to succeed, you can fling open the curtains on stage and sing it loud and proud without anyone expecting it.
"Je peux parler français!" you can shout into their shocked faces, as you stretch after a 15 mile run wearing a Giant Knitted scarf you made yourself.
Give yourself the space to fail, and you might just figure out the best performance of all.