New Years resolutions that don’t fail– and your way out

ss How about making a resolution to not make any more resolutions? Seriously, when you example instances of when people fail versus succeed, a few key traits stand out. I’ll explain at the end of the article– but first… I read a study where patients were told by their doctors that if they didn’t stop smoking or change their diets that they had months to live. The doctors explain what their patients would experience with heart disease, lung cancer, and other complications over the remaining months if they didn’t drastically change. You know what happened?

In the majority of cases, people didn’t change. You would think that would be a wake-up call, if any. But a factual recitation about how smoking causes lung cancer is something we, as intelligent human beings, all know. Yet folks smoke anyway. Or they overeat at meals, overspend their credit line, choose bad boyfriends, and make a host of irrational decisions. Why do they fail here, even when literally threatened with a life and death situation?

They make a public commitment, they involve friends in achieving their goals, they have specific goals in different timeframes, they connect emotionally with their goals, and they have a feedback loop. Incidentally, aren’t those the same characteristics that make videos games highly addictive? Aren’t those the same dynamics that cause folks to spend hours on Facebook or (insert your favorite social media site here), coming back day after day? Imagine if you could harness that same level of dedication and enthusiasm in your job, your diet, or any other goal you want to achieve?

How about for the low, low price of $1,995? No, how about just $599 if you act in the next 30 minutes? Operators are standing by now. How about actually for free with no strings and no free set of Ginzu knives? The answer is is a community for folks who want to achieve their fitness and life balance goals. And with great fitness comes success in all other aspects of your life. This site hits upon all the game dynamics mentioned above. Chris Downie, who founded originally as a weight loss site, had the community of enthusiasts to prove it.

Instead of the traditional monthly attrition rate of 35% that you see in most programs, he’s less than 1/10th that rate. I had the pleasure of meeting Chris several times, as he explained these motivation principles to me– and it’s amazing how many people he’s been able to help because of this. Look out Tony Robbins, here comes Chris Downie! And what a humble fellow he is. He walk the talk with his own lifestyle. It reminds me of the obese CEO of a famous athletic shoe company or the CEO of a major search engine that didn’t even have a computer their first year. If you want to spark your lifestyle into success into the new year, tap into to make losing weight and getting fit as fun and addictive as Facebook.



4 thoughts on “New Years resolutions that don’t fail– and your way out

  1. Dennis Yu Post author

    That’s bull crap. He may have a low attrition rate, which I doubt, but that means nothing in terms of changing lifestyles. Facebook and other social media sites do one thing correctly — they connect you with people of common interests. They do many thing though that have no benefit at all to people’s real lives. The social games you talk about waste time and are fun to play, but do they do anything beneficial for the user? I don’t think so. These people on Sparkpeople are participating in useless social manipulation but are doing very little for their own lives. Just like Tony Robbins, it’s a feel good activity for a while but it all falls apart eventually. You said it as a matter of fact. People don’t usually change. Change only happens if the person has a life altering epiphany and flips the switch to change. Once the switch has been flipped it won’t matter if it’s via spark people or if it’s in their living room all by themselves. The only variable to change is in a persons own head. All the rest is useless marketing bull crap that has a very short shelf life. You know it and I know it.

  2. Ryan

    I really think the key is creating a feedback loop; the mix of short and long term goals is something I hadn’t thought of, but for me, having “automatic/external” tracking of score helps with anything. Even if I’m the one setting up the automatic rewards, them being automatic causes the correct behavior. A good “coach” (or a good video game designer) is probably about bringing the RIGHT pre-programmed reward into focus at any given time.

    I signed up for sparkpeople (why didn’t you include an affiliate link or something?); definitely looks interesting and well executed. (on the weight loss front, or exercise, the key for me seems to be tracking “score” by counting calories; it’s just tedious unless the food is all pre-measured and standardized. I really don’t understand how anyone rich (like Oprah) has a weight problem; she could trivially pay a team to measure/track/dispense food for her 24×7.

    I wonder if he’ll have the “dating site” problem of attrition after people meet their goals; but I guess “staying fit” benefits from a site like that, whereas “staying in a relationship with someone” suffers from remaining on personals sites.

  3. Chris (SparkGuy)

    Thanks for the great comments Dennis!

    To the first commenter, you are right about many sites/programs. SparkPeople is different. I’ve taken 25 years to develop this program with my team and and we continually improve it based on use by millions of people. Everything about our company is based on helping people make a true healthy lifestyle change.

    I’ll give you some background. I was a shy kid with anxiety and hated it. So, I developed a personal improvement program that combines areas that help your body like nutrition and fitness with areas that help your mind like goal-setting and leadership. This program gave me the passion and energy to start a company with a friend. That company grew into the second largest person:person auction site behind eBay (well behind eBay, but second place is great in big categories!). Eventually, we were acquired by eBay – their first acquisition.

    Along the way, a co-worker at Procter & Gamble had used the program. She lost 50 pounds and told me I changed her life. She had then started a walking group and her friends said, “Pat, if you can do it, we can do it!” So, my original program to help myself was now impacting these other people I didn’t even know. I realized that “Your daily actions and words impact more people than you’ll ever realize.”

    So, in 2001 I left eBay to start a new company that would SPARK millions of PEOPLE to reach their goals. We’ve now spent hundreds of thousands of hours improving the site and program. SparkPeople is one of the largest health-related sites. Now I’m just a small piece of a great team and amazing group of members.

    But, the best part is that the program truly works and helps people make a healthy lifestyle change. Literally every day members tell me the site has changed their life. Here’s an example of the types of comments we get all the time. These comments then inspire other members to make real changes.

    6 months with SparkPeople…priceless

    It has been 6 months since I joined SparkPeople. My weight has dropped from 240 (maybe higher… I was afraid to get on the scale, so I am going by my highest weight recorded on the doctor’s chart) to 174, my BP has dropped from 169/89 to 117/74, my cholesterol is now well within normal limits, I am sleeping well, my psoriasis has healed, my hair and skin look healthy, my color has improved, my fat clothes are all way too big, my mood is improved (there are days when I feel positively elated, and that never happened before!), I’ve made new SparkFriends… the list goes on.

    Oh yeah… and did I mention that as of this morning, I am no longer obese? In another 6 months, I’m not even going to be overweight! All I can say is thank you, SparkPeople! No exaggeration, I am very close to tears right now. This site ROCKS!


    Of course you are right that people can change on their own. We just provide tools, content, community support and many other things that makes it easier to change – all for free. I wish I had this help when I was younger :).


    Chris (SparkGuy)

  4. admin Post author

    Chris– thanks for the feedback. I am so amazed at the number of lives you have changed. That is the level of impact that we want to have with and I look to you as a role model for your attitude and practicing what you preach.

    Ryan– right on with the feedback loop. It seems that BF Skinner is alive and well. People are motivated by reward and punishment– and simple as that sounds, the patterns produced are so complex. Join my SparkTeam and let’s have some fun getting back into shape!

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