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How Your Smartphone May Help You Keep Your Resolutions

Want to get fit, meet financial goals or beat stress in the new year? There's an app for that 

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En español | Whether you want to read more or spend less, reduce your weight or increase your steps, mobile applications, or apps, can help you turn your New Year’s resolutions into lasting habits. To get started, head to the App Store (if you’re an iPhone user) or the Google Play store (if you have an Android) to download the apps that match your goals. And remember, persistence is key — experts say it takes at least three weeks to make a new habit stick.

"You have to build up to your goal, otherwise you end up sabotaging yourself,” says New York-based life coach Sharon Good. Apps, Good says, can help you gain traction in a few ways: some ask you to log your daily progress toward a specific achievement, while others connect you to a community of users. They can also offer creative ways to achieve goals you might otherwise avoid (for instance, by letting you practice a new language from home, rather than traveling across town for a weekly class). 

No matter the goal (or the app you use to get there), Good says that mind-set is key. In other words, don't just tell yourself you should do something — remind yourself why you want to in the first place. 

Optimize your health

Eating smarter and exercising are classic resolutions that can be tricky to keep. For success, try a two-pronged approach: Download one app, like MyFitnessPal, to track your calories and nutrition, and a separate exercise app, like Johnson & Johnson’s 7 Minute Workout, to follow along with professionally guided fitness routines.

If you struggle to get motivated, something like the Charity Miles app offers an extra incentive: for every mile of “movement” (walking, biking, running and dancing are all fair game), the app’s sponsors will donate a small amount (typically 25 cents) to your choice of charity. So far, there are more than 40 to choose from. 

Watch your wallet

 Whether you want to track your retirement spending or set specific savings goals, apps like Mint or Personal Capital give you a bird’s-eye view of your finances, from daily expenses to home loans to investment growth. These secure apps let you link your cards, bank accounts and more to track spending (and savings) in real-time, with colorful charts and graphics that make it easy to visualize your financial progress. 

Conquer your reading list

Having trouble making a dent in the pile of books on your nightstand? An app like Goodreads can help. Users compile reading lists, review and rate the books they finish and scroll through customized recommendations. If you prefer audiobooks, consider the Librivox app, which offers unlimited access to more than 50,000 works of fiction and nonfiction in the public domain.

Learn a language

Whether you’re looking to pick up a new language or brush up on the basics of one you learned years ago, apps can help you boost your fluency and your brain health at the same time (one study, for example, found that learning a second language as an adult delayed the onset of dementia by four to five years). Options like Duolingo, which offers courses in more than two dozen languages, or Memrise, which features user-generated lessons, are a great way to fit in bite-sized practice sessions throughout the day.  

Clear your mind

Hoping to feel less stressed in the new year? Meditation isn’t just a mood-enhancer — when practiced regularly, research shows that it offers a host of health benefits, from increasing pain tolerance to lowering blood pressure. All you need to get started is an app like Calm or Headspace, which offer guided meditations on a variety of themes, such as sleep or anxiety, to help you achieve mindfulness in minutes.

Travel hassle-free

If you've resolved to take the trip of your dreams in 2019, you're not alone: Nearly half of all Boomers now say they choose to travel for relaxation and rejuvenation. The Kayak and Skyscanner apps make it easy to pinpoint the best deals on airfare, hotels and rental cars on the go, while planning apps like PackPoint (which generates a custom packing list based on factors like your itinerary and destination weather) and TripIt (for easy access to your master itinerary) take care of the rest.

Once you're set up to accomplish individual goals, don't stop there: Download a habit-tracking app like HabitBull or Way of Life to log daily progress toward all of your resolutions and maintain that January momentum all year long.

And if you find yourself losing steam, don't panic. “Very often when you’re making a change, you’re going to lose consistency for a while,” Good says. “Don't let that discourage you. Start again." 

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