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Grow Your Business Technology

Apps to Help You Keep Your New Year's Resolution

image for SFIO CRACHO / Shutterstock
SFIO CRACHO / Shutterstock
  • 80% of New Year's resolutions are not kept – most are abandoned by February.
  • Mobile apps can help you tackle resolutions such as losing weight or learning a new language.
  • Need extra incentive to keep your resolutions? One app lets you add a money incentive to help you reach your goals. 

It's almost 2020, and a new decade is the perfect time for a fresh start. As you write your list of aims for the new year, keep in mind the old but true saying: A goal without a plan is just a wish. While millions of Americans will begin 2020 with lofty aspirations, very few will accomplish what they set out to do. In fact, according to U.S. News & World Report, 80% of resolutions made each new year are not kept, and most are abandoned by February. One reason so many resolutions fail is a lack of strategy.

If you want to kick the '20s off right and stick to your New Year's resolutions, you should take advantage of all the tools and resources at your disposal. There are lots of great apps out there for stopping bad habits and starting good ones. According to our research, the most common New Year's resolutions include losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising more, meditating, saving money and paying off debt. We'll also tackle enriching habits, like reading more and learning a second language, as well as general habit-changing tips in our list.

Ready to get started?

Most New Year's resolutions are big goals, like losing weight or starting a business, but those goals require you to perform lots of little steps every day for a long period of time. Because of that, apps that help you change your small daily habits can be useful for implementing big life changes.

One of the cutest gamifying habit-tracker apps out there is Habitica. Your 2-bit throwback avatar (which you can design yourself) whose livelihood is affected by your progress toward your goals makes for a fun app experience. You can level up and unlock rewards and quests by increasing your health, experience, and mana points, which you achieve by consistently completing goals. You can create to-do lists, customize goals, and connect with other users through a social chat feature.

Designed by behavioral economists from Yale University, stickK allows you to set goals, create a "commitment contract" and even apply a money incentive. According to literature from the app, the company's "10+ years of experience show us that you are 300% more likely to achieve your goal if you put money on the line. Add Stakes to your Commitment Contract and you'll increase your chances of success. If you're unsuccessful at your goal, you choose where that money goes."

The money you pledge can be sent to your friends, charities, or even what the creators of stickK call "anti-charities," which are organizations you vehemently oppose, to motivate you. The app makes it easy to connect with others and maintain accountability – you can even designate another user as your referee (with their approval) to help you stick to your goals. 

Practically every survey about New Year's resolutions shows that losing weight and getting fit are two of the most consistently popular goals. Whether you're looking to gain muscle, lose weight, improve your endurance, or just increase your serotonin levels and heart health, getting active is a great goal.

These apps can help you lose weight and up your fitness level in 2020.

One of the most popular calorie-counting apps around, MyFitnessPal makes it easy to log the food you eat throughout the day. While you can use it to track nutrients or increase your calories, MyFitnessPal was built to help people lose weight, so that's its best use. 

You can save your current weight and your goal weight to get a recommended calorie count. You can then select foods to add to your log from the app's massive library, scan barcodes to add packaged foods, and even create custom recipes for homemade fare that you eat on a regular basis. If you're more into nutrition than weight loss, you'll be happy to know that MyFitnessPal also calculates daily vitamins and nutrients, so it's a good fit for the weight loss and overall health-focused set. 

If your 2020 plans include getting off the couch and trying new physical activities, Fitness Blender is a great online destination. This free website offers thousands of fitness videos that you can easily sort by body focus, duration, difficulty, equipment and more. There's also an online Fitness Blender community where you can post about your goals, ask questions, share tips and connect with others. 

If you're already an athlete and looking to get to the next level of fitness, check out Skulpt Scanner. This innovative handheld device gives you the power to analyze your body fat percentage overall and by body part. If you opt for the $99 bundled plan, you'll automatically receive a custom-tailored workout plan to address your weakest areas and build more muscle overall. 

There are lots of wearable fitness bands out there, but Fitbit is the gold standard. Fitbit bands come in various designs and sizes, and the Fitbit app is excellent. Through the app, you can track your physical activity and calories burned, log your weight and food eaten, and even view your trends over time, including sleep trends. If you have a New Year's resolution buddy who also has a Fitbit, you can engage in physical challenges with them, and even if you don't, the Fitbit forum is a great community to keep you motivated.

Bad habits are tough to kick, but a new decade is the perfect reason to switch things up. The most common vices people want to toss out when the calendar year changes are (unsurprisingly) alcohol and cigarettes, and these resources can help you do just that. (Please note that some of the alcohol-related apps listed here aim at those who want to quit drinking entirely, while others are also good for people who would like to reduce the amount of alcohol they consume but not necessarily abstain entirely.) 

An official app from Alcoholics Anonymous, the Meeting Guide app will help you find local AA meetings anywhere in the country. Over 100,000 AA meetings are currently searchable on Meeting Guide. The well-designed app also includes daily reflections in line with the AA recovery ethos of reliance on a higher power, faith, and the belief that alcoholism is a self-diagnosed, lifelong disease. 

If you want a pared-down app to track how much you drink and monitor your likely blood alcohol content, AlcoTrack is it. This app is all about stats and information; it's judgment-free and label-free, making it a good option for those who want to test the sobriety waters, cut down on excessive drinking, or just gauge their current behaviors around alcohol. 

You could say Daybreak is the younger generations' nonreligious, label-free, diagnosis-free answer to AA. The Daybreak program is for anyone who would like to reexamine their relationship with alcohol for any reason, and either cut down on drinking or quit completely. The Daybreak method (which exists outside of the app too) has been shown to be effective by Australia's National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University; in fact, the program is funded by the Australian government. The Daybreak app offers resources, community and even personalized coaching to users anywhere in the world. 

Recommended by Smokefree.gov, QuitGuide is a free, all-in-one smoking cessation app that helps you identify your smoking triggers, track your smoke-free progress, create journal entries, and get tips and inspiration for the early stages of quitting smoking. 

A friendly and well-designed app to help you quit smoking, EasyQuit uses encouragement and positivity in the form of badges and icons, and it's one of the highest-rated smoking cessation apps out there. There's a motivational health section that shows how your body begins to repair itself from the time of your last cigarette, a day counter that you can display on your smartphone home screen, and even a fun memory game to help you through cravings.

YNAB and Mint are both great apps for people who want to get their finances in better shape. Whether you're looking to pay down debt, create an emergency fund or save up money for a new business venture, these tools can help you track your progress. Here's how they differ.

Now an Intuit product, Mint is a great, lightweight personal finance tool for people who have trouble sticking to a budget and aren't sure where they spend their money. When you sign up for a free Mint account, you can easily link your bank accounts and credit cards to it. Through your secured account, you can see what you spend your money on (represented in visually pleasing graphs and pie charts), create budgets, set goals and get a better handle on your finances overall. You can also set alerts and reminders to pay bills and check your credit score. 

A popular choice among hardcore personal finance enthusiasts, YNAB (You Need a Budget) not only makes it easier to track your spending, it also provides a sort of toolkit to help you stop overspending and start planning for the future. The YNAB program covers all the basics on how to budget and prioritize spending, and the company offers additional classes on personal finance if you want to dig even deeper. YNAB is free for the first month and $6.99 a month after that. According to the site, "On average, new budgeters save $600 by month two and more than $6,000 the first year."

Yearning to be your own boss and start a business? There's no time like the new year to put your dreams into action, and technology can help. Online communities and apps can help new entrepreneurs find their footing. Here are a few of our favorites.

The LinkedIn app is a no-brainer for aspiring entrepreneurs. It's not only a great way to connect with other local entrepreneurs, but also a good place to gain visibility for your business. Entrepreneurs use LinkedIn to publish original content, make new connections and showcase their services. 

Our sister site, business.com, is a haven for aspiring and established entrepreneurs. Through the online BDC community, you can submit original content for publication, ask questions and answer ones from the community, and discover solutions for growing your business. The community is free to join. 

This cross-platform system includes a mobile habit tracker (free), one-on-one habit coaching from more than 700 live coaches (starting at $15 a week) and career-focused leadership coaching (starting at $249 a month). Whether you want to start a new business or just change careers, Coach.me can help you get there in 2020.

Being more at peace and growing your gratitude muscles is a noble goal for the new year, and these apps can help you do it.

The Happify app hopes to help people overcome negativity and stress and become more resilient and grateful. After all, happier employees are up to 12% more productive, according to a study by the University of Warwick. This science-based app starts you down the path to happiness by giving you an assessment that assigns you a current "happiness score." Then the app uses the information you provided in the test to create a program intended to boost your happiness through games, tools, information and coaching. By helping users gain perspective and focus on the positive, Happify aims to boost their long-term happiness. According to Happify, based on user happiness scores before and after using the app, "86% of frequent users get happier in two months." 

With a five-day guided introduction to meditation and dozens of guided and silent meditation sessions (ranging from three minutes to 30 minutes), The Mindfulness App is an excellent fit for veteran meditators as well as those just starting out. The app can send you mindfulness reminders and affirmations, and it's free to use (but there is a paid version available with additional features). 

According to multiple surveys over the past five years, reading more is one of the most frequent New Year's resolutions. In that vein, here are three great tech tools to help you crack open a few classics and get your read on.

Love audiobooks but hate paying for them? If you are in a participating library district, Hoopla allows you to check out and stream books directly on your mobile device. 

If you don't have a Kindle already, get one. There's no easier way to download books and stay on top of all your favorite publications in one convenient place. 

Audible is a fantastic app for finding and listening to audiobooks. The selection is huge, and the prices are competitive with other audiobook apps. You can try Audible for free for 30 days, and subscriptions start at just $14.95 a month. 

Goodreads is the book lover's social network. It's a stellar place to discover books you might like, review books you've read, and follow friends and celebs to see their book recommendations. This site is especially valuable for New Year's resolution readers who want to get more into reading but aren't sure where to start.

Learning a new language can help you stay sharp, improve your marketability and be personally rewarding. While none of them are substitutes for real-life courses, these handy apps can start you on the path to becoming a polyglot.

Duolingo became so popular that the company created an educational version of the app for classrooms, but this free, fun app is nothing like the language software that was around when you were a kid. It gamifies the learning experience and helps you learn to read, speak, and listen at the same time.

Babbel is a great language app for business learners and frequent travelers because it focuses on conversation. Each lesson is broken up into digestible 10- to 15-minute chunks, making it easy to squeeze in between meetings.

Mona Bushnell

Mona Bushnell is a Philadelphia-based staff writer for business.com and Business News Daily. She has a B.A. in writing, literature, and publishing from Emerson College and has previously worked as an IT technician, a copywriter, a software administrator, a scheduling manager, and an editorial writer. Mona began freelance writing full time in 2014 and joined the Business News Daily/business.com team in 2017. She covers business and technology.