New Year’s resolutions provide a great opportunity to brainstorm short-term goals and set your priorities for the year ahead. However, a majority of people don’t keep the resolutions that they set at the beginning of the year. Many will abandon them as early as February or sooner. Keeping your New Year’s resolutions often requires a strategy and a way to hold yourself accountable. Luckily, these apps can help you devise a plan and stick to it.
Most New Year’s resolutions are big goals, such as 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 and 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 completing goals consistently. 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 apply a monetary 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 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 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 getting physically fit is a popular goal. Whether you’re looking to gain muscle, lose weight, improve your endurance or increase your serotonin levels and heart health, getting active can make a big difference to your overall health and wellness.
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 create custom recipes for homemade fare that you eat regularly. 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 New Year’s 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 sort easily 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. 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 receive a custom-tailored workout plan automatically 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 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, if you don’t, the Fitbit forum is a great community to keep you motivated.
Many apps can help you boost your fitness. Be sure to choose the right one for your specific wellness needs.
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 that. (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 (AA), the Meeting Guide app will help you find local AA meetings anywhere in the country. More than 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 as well, is effective by Australia’s National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University. The program is funded by the Australian government. The Daybreak app offers resources, community and 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 a fun memory game to help you through cravings.
YNAB and Acorns 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, invest or save up money for a new business venture, these tools help track your progress. Here’s how they differ.
A great option for investing and saving your money in the new year is the Acorns app. Through this elevated digital banking app, you can invest, earn, grow, spend and save your earnings. The app provides professional insights and financial guidance to those who are new to investing. Not only that, but you can also earn bonus investments from top brands while you shop. Acorns uses your spare change to invest in recommended, diversified investment portfolios of exchange-traded funds that work best for you.
A popular choice among hardcore personal finance enthusiasts, YNAB (You Need a Budget) not only makes it easier to track your spending, but 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 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.
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.
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. 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.
Do you 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. Here are a few apps that can help teach you new languages in an easily digestible way.
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.
While none of these apps are substitutes for real-life courses, they can start you on the path to becoming a polyglot.
It’s never too early — or too late — to start pursuing your New Year’s resolutions. First, you must define your objectives and identify which are most important to you. Then, you can break down each resolution into actionable goals to strive toward. With the help of the above apps, you’ll cover all your bases. Whether you’re prioritizing your finances and wealth, physical health, mental well-being, career or spiritual goals, there is likely tech available to support your progress.
Sammi Caramela contributed to this article.