It's easy to get swept up in the trappings of the holiday season, but once the bubbly is gone, your attention will probably turn to self-reflection and goal-setting. The new year offers everyone a chance at clean slate, and it's the ideal time to clarify what you want out of your career and your personal life.
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 2019 with lofty aspirations, very few will accomplish what they set out to do. In fact, according to U.S. News and World Report, 80 percent of resolutions made each new year are not kept, and most are abandoned by February. One reason so many resolutions fail is due to a lack of strategy.
Before you pop the cork on 2019, make sure you have all the tech tools you need to make your goals a reality.
Pay off debt and save money
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:
Mint: Mint, which is now an Intuit product, is a great lightweight personal finance tool that's ideal for people who have trouble sticking to a budget and who aren't entirely 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 your Mint account. Through your secured account, you'll be able to 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 for bill-paying and checking your credit score.
YNAB: A popular choice among hardcore personal finance enthusiasts, YNAB (You Need a Budget) not only makes tracking spending easier, it also provides a sort of toolkit intended to help users stop overspending and start planning for the future. The YNAB program includes 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 then $6.99 a month after that, and according to the site, "On average, new budgeters save $600 by month two and more than $6,000 the first year."
Start a business
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.
LinkedIn: The LinkedIn app is a no brainer for aspiring entrepreneurs. Not only is it a great way to connect with other local entrepreneurs, it's also a good place to gain visibility for your business. Entrepreneurs use LinkedIn to publish original content, make new connections and showcase services.
Business.com: Our sister site, Business.com, is a haven for aspiring and established entrepreneurs. Through the online BDC community, users can submit original content for publication, answer questions from the community, ask questions and discover solutions for growing their businesses, plus it's free to join.
Coach.me: Coach.me is a cross-platform system that 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 2019.
Find inner peace
Being more at peace and growing your gratitude muscles is a noble goal to set for the new year, and these apps can help you do just that.
Happify: 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 percent more productive, according to the University of Warwick. This science-based app starts users down the path to happiness by first having them take an assessment test that provides a current "happiness score." Then the app uses the information gathered during the test to create a program intended to boost happiness through games, tools, information and coaching. By helping users gain perspective and focus on the positive, happify aims to boost user happiness long term. According to Happify, and based on user happiness scores before and after using the app, "86 percent of frequent users get happier in 2 months."
The Mindfulness App: 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 and those who are just starting out. Users can set the app to send mindfulness reminders and receive affirmations. Best of all, The Mindfulness App is free to use (but there is a paid version available with additional features).
Be more physically active
Whether you're looking to gain muscle, lose fat, improve your endurance, or just increase your serotonin levels, getting active is a great goal. These apps can help you take ownership of your health in 2019.
MyFitnessPal: One of the most popular calorie-counting apps around, MyFitnessPal makes it easy to log the food you eat throughout the day. You can 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 or nutrients, so it's a good fit for the weight loss and overall health-focused set.
Fitness Blender: If your 2019 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.
SkulptScanner: If you're already an athlete and looking to get to the next level of fitness, check out SkulptScanner. This innovative handheld device gives you the power to analyze your body fat percentage by body part and overall. 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.
Fitbit: There are lots of wearable fitness bands out there, but Fitbit is the gold standard. Fitbit bands come in varied designs and sizes, and the Fitbit app is excellent. Through the Fitbit app, users can track physical activity and calories burned, log weight, log food and even view 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 if you don't, the Fitbit forum is a great community to keep you motivated.
Read more books
According to multiple surveys over the past five years, reading more is one of the most frequently touted 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.
Kindle: If you don't have a Kindle already, get one. There's no easier way to download library books, buy books and stay on top of all your favorite publications in one convenient (and lightweight) place.
Audible: If you have a long driving commute or simply prefer to consume your books auditorily, Audible is a fantastic app for finding and listening to audiobooks. You can try Audible for free (for 30 days), and subscriptions start at just $14.95 a month.
GoodReads: 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) and 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.
Learn a new language
Learning a new language can help you stay sharp, improve your marketability, and be personally rewarding. While none of these are substitutes for IRL courses, these handy apps can get you started on the path to becoming a polyglot.
Duolingo: Duolingo became so popular with users that the company created an educational version of the app for classrooms, but this free app is nothing like the language software that was around when you were a kid. This fun app gamifies the learning experience and helps you learn to read, speak and listen, all at the same time.
Babbel: 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.