The New Year offers hope and promise -- a fresh start with a clean slate. With it comes a crop of New Year's resolutions. Yet according to statistics from the University of Scranton, approximately half of those who make resolutions will give up on them within six months and only 8 percent will achieve their goals. That's not exactly a winning percentage.
So how do we make sure that we stick to our resolutions and set ourselves up for success? Luckily, we live in an age where our smart devices can help.
Resolution: Lose weight
If you are one of the nearly 40% of Americans who made a New Year's resolution related to weight loss, you know that accountability is a key. Here are two apps that will keep you motivated and on track.
Lose It! makes it simple to make smart, healthy eating choices for the long term. The app creates a daily calorie budget. You have to track your food and exercise -- and, of course, stay within the budget. Lose It! offers a food database with thousands of restaurant and grocery store foods to help with calorie counting. It also syncs with health and fitness apps like Nike+, RunKeeper, Fitbit, Jawbone and Withings. It's available for free for iOS and Android.
Social dieting games combine friendly competition and financial incentives as you try to achieve your weight-loss goals. And the combination works. DietBet reports that 96% of its participants lose weight. The premise is simple: Place a bet that you will lose a certain percentage of weight within a certain time frame -- either 4% within four weeks or 10% within six months. If you lose the weight, split the pot with others who successfully met their goal. You can import data from RunKeeper, MapMyFitness and Withings. Keep track of your progress and cheer on fellow players (or create extra support for yourself) on the go with DietBet's iPhone app (free).
Resolution: Get in shape
Another common New Year's goal is to get in shape. While sign-ups for gym memberships increase in January, many new gym-goers fall off the bandwagon within the first few months. Pact (formerly known as GymPact) leverages the power of money and guilt to help you get -- and keep going -- to the gym. Decide how many days a week you commit to working out and how much you are willing to pay if you do not work out. Check in at the gym or track your outdoor or at-home workouts. Get rewarded for meeting your goal by earning 30 to 50 cents per workout, paid by those who didn't make it to the gym. You can change your goal each week to adjust to your schedule. Pact integrates with other apps such as RunKeeper, MapMyFitness, Jawbone UP, and Fitbit. On Jan. 1, Pact expanded its free iOS and Android apps to include incentives for eating healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables and for logging your food.
Resolution: Create better habits
Here's an unlikely source for New Year's resolution advice -- Jerry Seinfeld. His advice? Don't break the chain. Each day you spend some time on your desired goal, mark it off on a calendar with a big X. Pretty soon you will have a chain of Xs', and you will want to see that chain continue to grow. Miss a day, and you break the chain. You can use this method with just about any goal: drink more water, make healthy eating choices, exercise or learn something new. Commit ($2.99 for iOS) and Habit Streak Plan (free for Android) are simple and easy-to-use apps that help keep you on track. Report on each day whether or not you completed the activity or task, with or without the apps' prompt, and watch your streaks grow.
Resolution: Be happier
Who wouldn't want to be happier in the New Year? It can be as easy as collecting happy moments during your day with Happier, a social gratitude journal. Capture small or big moments with words and/or photos, and share them with others in the Happier community. Having a bad day? Just log in to Happier and see others' moments, guaranteed to give you a quick boost. Research has shown that focusing on the positive can help you be healthier, be less stressed, sleep better, learn faster and be more productive. Happier is currently available for free for the web and iOS and will soon be available for Android.