How App Habit Trackers Help People Achieve New Year’s Resolutions

The start of a new year carries the promise of a fresh start in which one can become a better version of themselves. So, every year millions of people, all around the world, make New Year’s resolutions. While people’s intentions are noble most of them fail to achieve their goals and continue with their old habits.

A study done by the University of Scranton found that 77% percent of people maintained their New Year’s resolutions for 1 week but only 19% for 2 years. The successful 19% were studied to help others find out what made their outcome positive. What made the successful resolvers different from the unsuccessful ones? They employed significantly more stimulus control, reinforcement, and willpower over the 2 years.

The problem people have is not coming up with New Year’s resolutions as typically most of them are common enough. How many times have you or a loved one pledged to follow a healthy diet in the new year? Exercise more? Lose weight? Read more? Probably at least once as most people believe that by achieving these goals they will become a better version of themselves. However, the main thing that sets one up for success in actually achieving New Year resolutions is tracking progress by setting small achievable goals that provide reinforcement and a stronger sense of will power.

Additionally, by setting small goals and tracking progress one is accountable daily and thus more prone to forming positive habits; a key factor in maintaining and achieving one’s resolutions. Forming a habit that compliments one’s New Year resolution should the primary aim of people wishing to self improve in the new year. Unlike a New Year resolution, once a habit is formed, the perception of contexts triggers the associated response without explicitly thinking about the goal. This means being successful in forming habits allows you to achieve your resolutions without having to explicitly think about your actions.

The good news is that establishing habits relates to one’s meaning, identity, competence, satisfaction, and self-expression. To explore why this is good news consider the definition of a habit, as suggested in the book “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg: habits are the choices that all of us deliberately make at some point, and then stop thinking about but continue doing, often every day. So, to become a better version of yourself in this new year you do not need to continuously think about your resolutions. Rather you should focus on building lasting positive habits. But since forming habits is in your control, you can achieve your New Year resolutions and nothing can stop you.

Understandably, forming habits is hard as it changes the way you have become accustomed to living your life. Thankfully, by living in the 21 century you have the luxury of being able to get help in forming habits with habit trackers.

A study done found that more than three quarters (77%) of millennials said they were motivated by using technology to track their progress and set goals. So, it makes sense that habit tracker apps are popular as they use psychological evidence to help build lasting habits.

Habit tracking apps are powerful tools that one can use to achieve their New Year’s resolutions and they are effective for three reasons. One they create a visual cue that can remind you to act, this ultimately makes you form habits getting you closer to achieving your resolution. Two it is motivating to see the progress you are making which provides you with reinforcement and a stronger sense of will power to continue pursuing your resolution. And three they gamify the process of making new habits as, after all, the point of setting goals is to make you happier, not more miserable.

So, this year instead of focusing on making large goals for your New Year’s resolution, try making these goals into habits. Then use a habit tracker to keep you focused on forming those habits. Ultimately, in 2021 you will look back and see that achieving your New Year’s resolutions was not so hard after all thanks to technology and the power of habits.

I am passionate about health and technology especially when the two are used together to help others.

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