I find New Year’s resolutions tricky and have avoided them in the past. I have difficulty dreaming up resolutions in the first place, and then I have problems sticking to them.
This is one of those situations where carrying a smartphone everywhere is useful, because many apps can help you achieve your personal goals by setting and monitoring your habits.
Habit Streak Pro
$3 for full version on Android
Habit Streak Pro on Android is a great app for helping you adjust your habits by encouraging you to report on what you’ve achieved each day.
It rewards you by counting your so-called streaks, or runs of days where you successfully stuck to your goal. After a little use, keeping the streak going becomes motivational by itself.
The app’s interface is clear and good-looking, which helps. You don’t want to interact with a badly designed app every day, do you?
To add a habit you click the large “+” icon, and enter two things: the name of the habit you want to cultivate, like “morning jog” and a positive-sounding question, like “Did you take a nice jog today?”
If you need help, the app can even suggest ideas for you. Tapping on the “. . .” icon brings up an exhaustive list of habits and questions to choose from.
Then you set an alarm in the app that will generate a pop-up reminder to enter your progress for the previous day. The app suggests setting the alert to go off in the early morning.
When the notification arrives, you enter the app, click on the check-mark icon, and select all the goals you managed to achieve the previous day.
The home-screen updates show a counter for the streak of successful days and a progress bar that fills up over time. You can share your progress with friends via e-mail or social networks.
It’s simple and can help you keep track of several goals at once.
But Habit Streak does require you to make an additional habit of checking into the app itself. And it costs $3 for the full version.
Free on iOS
Lift-Daily Motivation, a similar habit-tracking app on iOS, has just been given an overhaul that makes it look more modern and appealing.
Lift’s premise is that starting a new habit (or quitting an old one) is easier as part of a group.
Like Habit Streak Pro, Lift lets you track your progress, and it also suggests goals for you, selected from a list with categories like fitness and learning.
Tapping on a category takes you to a list of goals, like “ace your exam” within the learning category. These goals are then timed over a number of days, and as the days pass the app offers advice to keep you on track.
When you click on the app to say you’ve achieved a daily goal, you can enter a short description of how you did or how you felt, and this is shared with the people trying to achieve the same goal.
The app is a bit like a social network, and is free.
But while the social angle is definitely going to appeal to some people, you may prefer a more private way to track your progress.
The Habit Factor
$5 on Android, $4 on iOS
On Android, The Habit Factor is a bit more like Lift than Habit Streak Pro because it lets you set a number of goals or habits and gives you space to define why you’re aiming at them. For example, you may set a recurring habit to “blog more” and tell the app this is because you want to make a success of your writing by putting in more effort. The app separates “goals” and “habits” because it’s trying to point out that keeping fit, for example, is a habit you should keep forever, whereas quitting smoking is something you can do just once (hopefully).
The interface of The Habit Factor lets you add details like photos, and it’s easy to use, with charts that summarize your progress at a glance. But it looks cluttered, which may grate on you.
Kit Eaton writes on technology for The New York Times.