Failure to Launch? 5 Tips to Turn Your Resolutions into Reality

Remember that one time that even though you weren’t a runner and don’t work out, you made a new year’s resolution to run a marathon and the next day you woke up and ran a marathon?

Of course you don’t. That never happened. Because you know that’s just not how it works. Simply announcing your plan to run a marathon doesn’t make it happen. Running a marathon takes training.

So, if we know that’s not how it works, why do we follow the ritual every December 31 of making lofty goals and resolutions, often with no plan beyond our noble intentions? We often choose resolutions that involve changing our behavior — usually behaviors that have taken years to develop.

Habits are stubborn. That’s why they’re habits. So what makes us think that a simple statement of intention is going to change all that?

Studies suggest just 8% of people keep their new year’s resolutions. Yikes. There’s a dismal statistic you don’t often see at the beginning of your new day planner.

So how can you make sure you don’t ditch your new year’s resolutions by February?

Here are 5 tips to help you turn your resolutions into reality:

1. Break it down. Only Superman changes in a phone booth.

Suppose your resolution is to “eat healthier.” Unless you have a definite idea on how to accomplish this, it may feel overwhelming — especially if you are already having trouble tackling eating habits (which is probably why it’s your new year’s resolution).

What if you broke your resolution into bite-size pieces? (pun intended)

A more specific goal: “I am going to eat more veggies.”

A bite-sized action step: “I am going to add vegetables to one meal a day.”

(If you don’t eat veggies at all when you begin, starting with one meal a day would be an improvement. You can up the ante once you make progress with this for a couple of weeks.)

A more specific goal: “I am going to stop drinking soda.”

A bite-sized action step: “I am going to limit myself to 3 sodas per week.” (You can cut them out altogether eventually, but taking baby steps is more likely to take you the distance. Extra points for planning your soda days in advance.)

By stating your resolution in clear, actionable steps, you aren’t asking yourself to be a whole new person by January 2. You are setting yourself up for success with a plan you can follow.

2. A Spoonful of Sugar: The Mary Poppins Principle

Whatever you do to accomplish your resolution, have fun doing it. Fun matters.

Fancy study outcome: Data from one study shows that with the study participants who believed that the importance of the resolution mattered along with enjoyment, only enjoyment predicted long-term persistence. The fact that their resolution was important to them wasn’t enough. They needed to enjoy what they were doing to stick with a plan to achieve long-term success.

What does that mean? If you are planning to eat healthier, choose from healthy foods you like. If you are going to exercise more, choose activities that are fun for you.

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. In the most delightful way. Mary Poppins knows her stuff.

3. People Who Need People: Buddy Up

Fancy statistic: 72% of Americans say they’re more likely to keep a new year’s resolution if someone else does it with them.

It’s not only more fun to work out with a friend, it also keeps you accountable. If you are looking to eat healthier, getting together to prep food once a week makes it feel less burdensome.

Knowing that someone is waiting for you to show up is a huge motivator.

If social media’s your thing, maybe join/start a Facebook group for people with the same goal. That’s also a great way to share ideas on success.

4. Write It Down

You have probably heard this before, but it’s worth repeating.

Another fancy statistic: In a study by Dr. Gail Matthews, she found that people become 42% more likely to achieve their goals and dreams simply by writing them down on a regular basis.

Apparently it’s a brain thing. When you think about your resolution, you are using your right brain, which is the imaginative, creative side.

BUT, when you think about your intention, and then write it down, you have now engaged your left brain, the logical side. Now that both sides are working, your conscious mind gets the message, “Whoa. This sh*t is for real. She means it this time.”

So write down your resolution. Maybe more than once. Keep it where you can see it every day. (Advanced resolutioners: Review and adjust as time goes on.)

5. Remember, A Date Is Just a Number

There always seems to be a lot of pressure to set a new year’s resolution, followed by high expectations to keep it. If you stray from your resolution,  disappointment and shame may follow. With a majority of the people ditching their resolutions before Spring, you are not alone.

The truth is, January 1 is just a date. January 2 is just as good a date. You don’t have to throw away your chance for success just because you messed up. Even a rough morning doesn’t mean you have to throw away your goals for the whole day. Every day and every hour is a chance to start fresh.

When Daniel Pink released his new book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, he told the Washington Post, “People are twice as likely to run a marathon at age 29 as they are at age 28 or 30. There’s no reason for that. There’s no physiological difference between a 29-year-old and 30-year-old. It’s just a quirk of how we think about time and how we think about endings. Endings have this power to galvanize us.”

So Why Make These Resolutions?

Because the idea of a fresh start is one of the sexiest things there is. So go shout your resolutions from the mountaintop. And maybe this year you shout them extra loud, because you have the tools to make those resolutions a reality.

Looking for a community to share your 2018 goals with and hold you accountable in all things health and hotness?

Schedule a Strategy Session at MFF.


Stella Kaufman is an OG Ninja from before there was even a Mark Fisher Fitness Clubhouse. She is the editor for the MFF blog and runs the Tasty Ninja recipes page on Facebook. She loves to share what she’s learned along the way, especially with her fellow unicorns and Ninjas.


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