Tech tools to help with your New Year’s resolutions

This past December, we shared some advice on Unclutterer about creating New Year’s resolutions. When deciding on a resolution(s) for the new year, keep three things in mind: acknowledge your feelings, have a plan, and take your time. As we mentioned, your plan don’t need to be rock solid by January 1.

Once you’ve decided on goals to work toward, you can focus on these five tips for success:

  1. Stay positive
  2. Lean on a support team
  3. Choose goals wisely
  4. Take on one goal at a time
  5. Focus on more ambitious goals over the long term

Today, I’ll share some software that will help you realize your annual goals, focusing on the most common resolutions, according to USA.gov:

  • Drink less alcohol
  • Eat healthy food
  • Get a better education
  • Get a better job
  • Get fit
  • Lose weight
  • Manage debt
  • Manage stress
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce, reuse and recycle
  • Save money
  • Take a trip
  • Volunteer to help others

Many of these are similar, and I’ve combined those to create this master list:

  • Get healthy
  • Earn more money
  • Become a better citizen
  • Travel

Here are some examples of hardware and software to help you achieve each of those goals.

Get Healthy

Every January, millions of people vow to improve their health by either losing weight, adopting a healthier diet, or exercising regularly. It’s a great goal, as a heathy body and mind often means a longer, more enjoyable life. The health and fitness market is full of gadgets. Here are a few to get you started.

Bodyweight Training: You Are Your Own Gym for iPhone and iPad ($2.99). This app is remarkable in how comprehensive it is. It features over 200 videos demonstrating exercises that can all be performed with equipment you already have at home. There’s no need to buy an expensive gym membership. You’ll find guided exercise programs for all fitness levels, as well as timers to keep you on track. It’s great for when your traveling, too.

Nike+ Fuel Band ($149). The Nike+ line of fitness products are all connected to the Internet, for easy tracking of your performance and sharing with your friends. The Fuel Band is a bracelet with an accelerometer that tracks the number of steps you take and calories you burn each day. Set a goal and see how close you come. You can track and share your progress with friends via a browser or the optional iPhone app. There are even fun challenges to aim for, called “Missions,” presented as a sort of game.

MyFitnessPal (Free) MyFitnessPal offers a free calorie counter for the iPhone, iPad, Android smartphones, Blackberrys and Windows phone. It’s got a massive database of foods and drinks that let you track exactly how many calories you take in per day. You can also network with friends who are using the program, which helps to provide you with a community of support. Plus, it looks good.

Earn More Money

I can’t start this section without thinking of those Sally Struthers ads from the ’90s. “Do you want to make more money? Sure, we all do.” Here’s some software to help you stay on top of your finances.

iTunes U (Free). When I was young I was taught that the key to a good-paying, enjoyable job was education. Now, Apple lets me take a course on almost anything right from iTunes. iTunes U is a collection of educational resources put out by some of the nation’s top schools. You’ll find courses on a huge variety of subjects, from business to cooking to the arts and literature, law, math and science. Download any to your iPad and get learning.

Mint.com (Free) Mint is a fantastic finance and budget management suite of software. It’s available for the iPhone, iPad, Android tablets and Mac. It also works right in your browser, so Windows users can use it, too. Mint helps you track spending, follow a budget, set financial goals and more. Connect it to your bank and add any account you have, loans, retirement savings and more. Plus, it’s beautiful and generates nice-looking reports.

Become a Better Citizen

This often gets overlooked, but it’s great for your community and sense of self-satisfaction. Here are a couple of solutions to help you create and track all sorts of goals.

Everest for iPhone (Free) “Everyone’s got their Everest. Climb yours.” That’s a great slogan for a clever app. Everest lets you create goals and, more importantly, break them down into a series of small, achievable steps. Each goal, or “dream” as the app calls them, features an inspirational image. There are many to choose from, and you can even upload your own.

Lifetick (Free or $20 per year for the premium service) This app is different in that it starts by helping you identify your core values. Next, you create goals that are in line with each one. It’s an interesting way to approach goal setting. From there you create tasks for each goal and a timeline to keep track of all of them. Plus the web app is really beautiful.

Travel

Kayak Hands down my favorite travel app. It’s is as close to a portable travel agent as you’re going to get. It handles everything, from finding a flight to hotels, car rentals, attractions, things to do, and much more. Kayak polls several top travel sites and airlines for flights that match your criteria. The results can be filtered by airline, number of stops, airport, price and duration. You can also sort by cost, duration and departure time (leaving soonest). There’s an app for the iPhone, iPad, Android phones, Windows phone and Kindle Fire.

There you have it. I hope there’s something here to inspire you to an exciting, fulfilling 2013. Good luck!

7 Comments for “Tech tools to help with your New Year’s resolutions”

  1. posted by Neuro on

    Beware that these apps are collecting lots of information on you and could be used to spread personal data. My fitnesspal for example requires access to nearly all your personal information: location, contacts, etc. Another calorie counting app that I saw required access to the camera and all pictures…

  2. posted by Tracy G on

    I just started using My Fitness Pal not quite sure if I like it yet. I did not turn on location services or access to contacts and turned off all the social items. I would like to try My Net Diary and Lose it as well. Does anyone have anything to share about these apps?

    I have the Nike fuel band used it for awhile I just ordered the fitbit so very excited to try that one.

  3. posted by Andrew on

    An excellent free resource for exercise instruction, which goes to great lengths to ensure that information is cited and accurate, is ExRx:

    http://www.exrx.net

    The most readily useful section is the “Exercise/Muscle Directory” which separates exercises by muscle group, accessory (dumbbells, barbells, kettle ball, body weight, etc), movement type, and even includes animated GIFs to show the proper form through the entire motion.

    On top of that it’s a wonderful trove of random health bits: nutrition guidelines, low-back recovery, discussion on proper form for commonly mis-performed exercises, and even guidance on how to design and track your own, personalized weight program.

    ExRx is actually my only consultation source now when designing a new weight program – I strongly encourage others to poke around.

  4. posted by Beverly on

    No love for Lose It!? I’m a huge fan, and it’s gotten easier and easier to use as the database gets updated. You can even scan a food’s barcode to get the calorie and nutrition count (which would be great for me except one of my resolutions is to eat foods without barcodes).

  5. posted by Geoffrey on

    Hi,

    To quit smoking, you can try iOS/Android app kwit (minimalistic design, exploiting gamification) [http://kwit.fr].

    A video explaining the app can be found here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uudBc_kgr9Y

    Happy new year !

  6. posted by Laurel on

    What about GymPact? I love it. It’s an app that requires you to pay a preset self-chosen amount if you miss a preset workout day. If you do the workouts, you get paid by the other people who missed theirs.

  7. posted by Robyn on

    Fitness-oriented folks could also consider joining Fitocracy.com I’ve been using it for nearly a year. They require and collect very little personal data, other than your logged workouts. I didn’t even have to enter in my name. Part of what makes the site extra fun is that they liken your progress to a video game. You earn points, level up, and can join challenges. You can also create your own circle of virtual fitness friends from throughout the world and join groups of like-minded folks. :)

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