Do You Secretly Want to Fail?

We’re about halfway through January. How are those New Years’ resolutions coming? For those of you who are rocking it, congrats. For those of you that are struggling (and for those of you who are rocking it, too!), your number one obstacle in succeeding might not be your lack of work ethic or external factors, but your own secret desire to fail.

Yes, maybe you don’t actually want to lose those ten pounds. Maybe you don’t want to start eating healthy. Maybe you don’t actually want to learn that new sport.

Why would I say that, you ask?

It’s this funny little thing called self-handicapping. Self-handicapping is a psychological phenomena by which we purposely don’t try our best so that when we fail, we can say that it wasn’t because we just weren’t capable of succeeding. It’s just because we didn’t put in the work. We do this because we want to protect our self-image. If you worked as hard as you absolutely could at a goal, and still couldn’t meet it, that would be awkward, right?

“So Bob, why didn’t you do well in that half-marathon you trained for?”
“Well, Sally, turns out I’m just not a runner. Trained my absolute hardest, but turns out I’m incapable of doing any better.”

That seems like an awkward conversation for most of us. No one wants to admit that they’re inherently not good at something.

Self-handicapping comes out of fear. In high school, I was a master self-handicapper. My sport in high school was debate (yes, it’s a sport), and I loved it more than anything. But looking back, I wasn’t confident that I was that great. So I didn’t put in the work. I didn’t spend the twenty or thirty hours required to write a good case, and I didn’t spend hours and hours perfecting my speaking. I put in enough to do pretty well but I didn’t put in my 100%. Now I can see that I only did that so that when I didn’t achieve my goals or didn’t get first place, I had an out. I could say, “Well, you know, I could do that too if I put in fifty hours of work.”

I probably could have. But unfortunately life does not operate on the maxims of coulda, shoulda, woulda. Life only counts action.

So when you’re looking at your New Years’ resolutions, whether they’re going well or not, be sure to catch yourself when you’re self-handicapping. When you don’t want to run that extra mile or put in the extra hour of studying, ask yourself why. Is it because you’re scared to go out on a limb and give it everything you’ve got?

Sure, it’s completely possible that you end up like hypothetical Bob and you don’t make your goal. But that shouldn’t keep you from trying. While it seems awkward to be Bob, I think if I were Sally I wouldn’t think a thing of it. I wouldn’t go, “Wow, Bob. What a loser. Sucks that you tried your best and still failed.” I think most of us would be like, “Props to you, Bob. Way to try your hardest.”

Even if you don’t attain your goal or keep your New Year’s resolution 100%, there’s value in the effort you put forth. I think Gandhi puts it beautifully. “Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory.”

That Stereotypical New Years Post

Hi readers,

Happy New Year! I’ve been blogging for awhile now and can’t wait to fill 2014 with more fashion, food, and life. For all of you who’ve been reading consistently, thank you! Blogging has been so much fun for me and I love hearing that what I’m writing is relevant and that you’re enjoying it.

New Year’s Eve is funny because I find myself simultaneously filled with hope for the new year and this uncomfortable sense of things undone and goals unmet. But you know what, that’s okay! 2013 may not have seen the completion of all of my lofty goals, but I did have an amazing year. I started my second year of college, had a great summer job, and did a lot of traveling. Best of all, I’ve gotten to spend time with family and old friends and make some great new ones.

I think my new year is going to be guided by an important question my mom asked me the other night:

What will you do in 2014 that you’ve always wanted to do but is far from your comfort zone?

I’m not sure of the answer yet. I’ve considered applying for an internship as a style blogger, taking up running, and starting something on campus for veterans’ support, just to name a few.

If you have any ideas of what you’d like to do in 2014, please share! They might even be included in a future post. 🙂

Enjoy the festivities tonight, and don’t forget in the excitement of 2014 that 2013, in all its imperfections, is still a year of your life, and that alone makes it great!