It’s almost New Year’s Day, which means it’s time for a new you (because the previous 365 days didn’t give you the opportunity to grow or change, apparently). But this time, you’re committed to making real progress, to reach your goals, and to make a difference in your life.
You can start by avoiding these resolution pitfalls, but if you need some help, turn to your iPhone. A supercomputer in the palm of your hands, it has the power to improve your life (when you’re not using it to play Clash of Clans, anyway).
If you doubt that, check out these five resolutions and the apps that can help you keep them.
Change Your Outlook
Admit it, the state of the world has turned you into a bit of a Scrooge lately. Well, you don’t need three ghosts to snap you out of it.
First, try chronicling the things you’re grateful for with Day One. This well-designed app can send you reminders every day to take some time to write a little something, and you can post pictures, location information and any other details you please.
Or perhaps helping those who are less fortunate than you is what you need to change your perspective. GiveGab is a social volunteering app that allows you to look for service opportunities nearby. The app also can log your volunteer hours, so you can set and meet your volunteering goals.
Learn Something New
Whether it’s because of financial reasons, grades, or the admissions board didn’t like your application essay, not everyone got to go to an Ivy League college. But anyone with an iPhone can get the equivalent education, for free, with iTunes U. Featuring academic lectures from the likes of Stanford and MIT, this app can teach you about everything from computer science to Civil War military history.
Likewise, Khan Academy will catch you up on all the things you missed in school. The free app is easy to navigate and can turn your lunch break into a lesson in art history, finance or chemistry.
And learning a new language will not only give you added skills, it’s also been demonstrated to improve your creative thinking. Free app Duolingo is an excellent way to start mastering Spanish, French, Italian or other popular languages.
Lose Weight And Get Fit
Everyone wants to lose weight, get fit, and feel healthier — it’s a goal so popular that countless industries hinge on it.
The latest version of iOS even includes a great free app to help you get moving. The Apple Health app can count your steps, track your weight, count your calories, and even pull data from all your other favorite fitness apps to keep track of all your efforts in one place.
But one thing Apple Health won’t give you is moral support, and for that PumpUp cannot be beat. An Instagram-like photo sharing app that lets other like-minded people cheer you on, PumpUp can also track your activity, whether it’s running or skiing, and can help you build custom workouts to get in better shape. Then, when you post your progress, you get cheered on by other PumpUp members, helping you to keep going strong.
Kicking the nicotine addiction is hard, there’s no doubt about it, and listing off the countless reasons to quit doesn’t help either. But My Last Cigarette is a long-popular, habit-breaking program that claims to have helped thousands of now-non-smokers break free. Its $.99 iPhone app is tailored to the individual user, updating statistics in real time and calculating in advance when cravings should kick in.
Keeping quitters inspired with daily motivational quotes and medical facts, it’s a great way to stay vigilant — if the app’s “increase in life expectancy” calculator and “death toll since you quit” numbers somehow manage not to provide enough motivation.
Reduce Your Stress
In today’s non-stop, ever-connected world, it’s more important than ever to take some time with your thoughts. Mindfulness can help you to better manage stress, improve your blood pressure, and approach problems with a clear head.
Timers are great for doing this, and Equanimity, $4.99 in the App Store, is an excellent meditation minder, with app badges that count the number of days since you’ve last sat, a place to take notes about your sessions, and great, clean visuals to keep you calm, even when you peek at your phone.
If you’re new to meditation, Relax & Rest Guided Meditations provides guided recordings to help you control your breathing, block out distractions, and relax. Whether it’s for a quick, 5-minute centering session or a 24-minute whole body deep relaxation, this $1.99 app can help you reduce your stress.