The New Year is a great time to take stock of your life, where you’re at, where you (and more importantly God) want to go and what you are doing that you should/shouldn’t be doing. It’s also a great time to level up your life in one way or another. Of course, this motivation is key for your success but there are some handy app tools that can help you out and increase the likelihood of you achieving your resolutions.
A Few Primers
Before we get into the apps themselves, here are a few quick things you should think about before you set your goals.
Don’t set goals which you can easily break, instead set SMART goals which will help you achieve your goal.
SMART stands for:
- Specific – Don’t be vague, cut to the real issue.
- Measurable – If you can’t measure it, then you can’t judge your success. Something like “write better” is bad, “get X comments on a blog post” is a way you can measure that improvement.
- Achievable – Don’t set a goal that you could never achieve, make sure it is difficult so it challenges you but not so impossible you get demotivated.
- Relevant – If it doesn’t matter to you, you’ll give up. Make sure it is relevant and important to what you want to do.
- Time bound – Give yourself a checkpoint to see how you are doing.
SMART goals really boost your chances of success.
Make Sure It Fits Into the Bigger Picture
Before you set your goals, zoom out on your bigger picture.
- Why are you on this earth?
- What are you most passionate about?
- What gets you up in the morning?
And so on. By focusing on your bigger picture, you’ll gain greater insights into your specific goals and make sure that they are relevant (see above).
Remind Yourself Regularly
It can be easy to get consumed with what is going on every day and so forget your bigger picture goal and motive for doing it. So remind yourself regularly about what your goal is and what your motive is for your goal. This helps you get through those long slumps when you aren’t seeing many results and would like to “just for one day” slack off.
Go Easier Than You Think
People often think that they have to over-complicate their goals and resolutions. They choose to join a Gym to lose weight, or commit to writing (and publishing) a 1,500 word blog post every day. However, often it is much more effective to start with something much easier and then maybe work your way up. It’s amazing how effective walking for 30-mins every day can be (and how easy it is to achieve) rather than committing to going to the gym 4 times a week.
Apps for Health
There are a wide variety of health apps that you can find to help you either eat more healthily, track your activity or build up to a certain activity goal. Some try to be one shot shops like Fitbit or S-health on Samsung phones, and some try to do one task well. The latter are more accessible now with the advances in tools like Google Fit and Health kit on Android and iOS devices respectable that help share data between apps.
Many of these apps now have feature parity with each other so there are usually only two factors that separate them from each other. The apps your friends are using (It’s great to compete against other people), and the design. Here are a few suggestions in different categories.
- Fitbit iOS Android– Withings iOS Android
- Jawbone (multiple apps for different tracking devices)
- S-health (built in to Samsung phones)
- Runtactic iOS Android
- Fitstar (free weight workouts) iOS
- Nike+ Training club iOS Android
- Endomondo iOS Android
- Strava running and Cycling iOS Android
- Sleep cycle iOS Android
Apps for Writing
Many people would like to start writing more and develop a regular writing pattern. Depending on what your goals are for writing, there might be different tools which are worth using.
If you are interested in keeping a personal journal, maybe you should check out DayOne for the Apple ecosystem or Journey for the Google ecosystem. They both store your data online and let you write from mobile and desktop clients, plus you can save images as well. [They also both have publishing options]
Perhaps you’d like to start writing a blog? Well maybe you should check out WordPress to set up a blog or Tumblr for a more off the cuff and shorter tumbleblog.
If you want a web app with a word goal, try 750words.com. It’s a great site that is really bare but has a word count. It also keeps track of how many days in a row you can keep up your streak of writing 750 words and pits you against other users of the service.
Get Organized with a Great Todo App
If you find it hard to keep track of everything going on in your life, missing important dates, events and never manage to get round to the thing you really want to do, then maybe you need to get organized with a project management system and application. I am a firm believer that the system is more important than the application, but a good application can help you implement a system.
Stay in Touch with Family and Friends
One of the most common goals people share is to stay in touch with family and friends better. I set this goal a couple of years ago and tried something I heard recommended by Merlin Mann. He suggests picking 6 friends, then contacting one each week for 6 weeks, then repeat. This way you keep in touch with 6 friends over the course of a year. It’s not too difficult or big a commitment and ensures you really invest time with a small group of people. Of course, living abroad I used Skype to stay in touch with my friends and family and similar tools like Google Hangouts, FaceTime and so on are also great to stay in touch more.
Apps to Develop a Habit
Many of the following activities are habits that people want to start doing regularly. As such there are a few apps around that can help you develop a new habit. Some of these are basic checklists, other family the process to help you keep at it.
Some examples you might want to check out are:
Read Your Bible Regularly
developing a habit of regularly reading your bible can be a struggle for many people. There can be lots of factors that prevent you from reading but often a simple reminder or reading plan can make a big difference.
YouVersion has a great inbuilt feature of reading plans which can have regular reminders. They also have a great way to “catch up” so if you get behind, you can just continue where you are (this is great for stopping that feeling of guilt which can make it easier to give up rather than continue.)
However, make sure that the app you choose makes it enjoyable to read the bible. That’s why I often just use a paper bible. Although I don’t get a reminder from it (I do from my task management tool though) I enjoy it than looking at a screen (especially considering how much I look at a screen every day.)
Similar to reading the bible, praying regularly can be a tricky habit to pick up. For some people it’s much easier to pray off the cuff than spend some regular time in prayer. There are some prayer application which can help you keep track of things you are praying for as well as noting when your prayers get answer.
I personally love Prayermate. It is a well designed app that can sync between devices. People and groups can also publish a feed of prayer request or Devotionals for people to subscribe to. This helps you to track what organizations are doing, share requests and more.
Echo prayer manager is another great alternative which we have reviewed here on ChurchMag too.
Devotionals are a great guided way to read through the bible and have themes, trends and truths highlighted. They can be a way to get you to reflect on your faith, encourage you to act or rest in God’s truth. There are so many different types of Devotionals and so as you might guess there are thousands of different devotional apps.
As such, I recommend looking for a classic theologian that you like, a theme you are interested in or searching though some of our past recommendations. Alternatively, if you really don’t know where to start, you might want to check out YouVersion bible as they feature many bible reading plans and Devotionals from different sources. This is a great free way to get started and then once you start, you may get greater insight.
Of course, over on Churchmag Press we have a handful of great Devotionals that you might want to check out. They are all ebooks so you can access them on any device where ever you are and use a habit app or simple daily reminder to prompt and encourage you to get into your daily devotional.
Get Out of Debt
Managing your finances properly helps free you from the slavery of debt, and opens up to opportunity to bless others too. There are many tools out there but usually fall into two camps, cloud apps, or local apps. Some only track spending and others help you plan your spending. Personally I find the latter more useful.
I use You Need A Budget, with is synced over Dropbox, requires a Mac app but has android and iOS versions of the app.
Mint would be an American and Canadian alternative (no for me) with mobile apps and a web version as well. It also can connect to some American banks as well. Alternatively there is GNUCash for an open source solution.
However, you could just use a spreadsheet on Google docs, Numbers or Excel to track your spending. Sure you wouldn’t have the easy entry of some of the mobile apps but they are free and if you’re used to spreadsheets, they don’t take any extra time to learn.
Learn a New Language
Learning a language can be very difficult for people, the Internet has certainly made it a lot easier to encounter examples of the language you want to learn but it’s hard to emulate the learning experience of a classroom (with opportunities to read, write, listen and most importantly speak) on your own.
The best language learning app around at the moment is DuoLingo which has a lot of good elements. It provides exposure to a variety of different forms of a language and practice of them too. However, it is not perfect. Memrise is a good alternative app that is sort of flashcards on steroids. It also helps you practice different aspects of vocabulary.
What are your goals for the New Year?
Of course, you might have a different goal for the New Year and these tools might not help you. I’d love to know what your goals are and if you are using any tech to help you achieve them this year.