According to Statistic Brain, a paltry 8% of people successfully keep their New Year's resolutions each year. If you're among the unfortunate majority whose plans for getting your act together fizzled last year, these three simple steps can make 2015 the year you win at life.
Step 1: Make a plan you can keep
Instead of an ambiguous resolution that loses steam as soon as the champagne bottles and confetti are cleaned up, set several small, specific goals that will help you get where you want to be. Make sure they're easy to quantify — use hard numbers, amounts, and days/times — and easy to track (more on that in Step 2).
If your resolution is to lose weight, your 3-Step Achievement Plan goals might include:
- Bringing lunch to work three days a week.
- Going for a run on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings.
- Riding your bike to work when the temperature is above 50º.
A resolution to get organized could translate into 3-Step Achievement Plan goals such as:
- Spending the first 30 minutes of each workday emptying you inbox and responding to e-mail.
- Cleaning out your car every Sunday.
- Sorting and labeling the bins in your garage by January 30.
The most important thing is that your goals should be realistic and fit naturally into your existing habits and lifestyle. If you work until 8 PM every night, a goal to cook dinner at home five nights a week will put you on a fast track to joining the 92%.
Step 2: Check yourself along the way
No matter how specific, realistic, and process-based you've made your goals, you'll lose steam if you don't have a way of tracking your progress and holding yourself accountable. This is where your phone comes in: no matter what you want to accomplish this year, there's an app that can help you. Try using one of these, available in the Windows Store for your Lumia 635, to keep your eyes firmly on the prize. (And if you're aiming to spend less in the coming year, the Lumia offers the bonus of packing a ton of power into an extremely affordable package.)
If your goal is health, try:
If a running regimen is part of your health and fitness goal, you'll want this award-winning app in your back pocket. It uses GPS to track duration, distance, calories burned, speed, and elevation change, and it records your run in a cool series of charts and maps. The built-in community will cheer you on as you run, making you feel like an Olympic athlete — even if you're only panting your way around the block.
This surprisingly powerful app is like having a personal trainer at your beck and call. Oh, and a nutritionist. And a coach. Bodbot offers personalized workout and nutritional plans based on your needs and history, and then adapts as you make progress.
Bonus: Starting January 1, if you're one of the first 1,000 to sign up for an account, you'll get a free upgrade to Bodbot Premium for the whole year, which means you'll be getting in shape and cutting back on your spending.
Enter your daily weight, waist circumference, exercise, and calories consumed into this tracking and motivational app to view your progress in a series of simple, elegant charts. Need a little extra push? Share your progress on Facebook for encouragement (and hopefully a little envy) from your social network.
This app does way more than count calories: it also tracks carbs, cholesterol, sodium, sugar, dietary fiber, and a dozen other food properties, giving you a full picture of your eating habits. The thousands of items in its food database makes it especially easy to enter items or scan barcodes from the grocery store, and unlike many eating apps it calculates the full value of each meal. If keeping a food diary is part of your plan (and it should be!), this app is definitely the way to go.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, Lifehacker, and The New York Times, this is the fastest way to get a full-body workout even if you're short on time, equipment, and motivation. All you need is a pair of sweatpants and seven minutes a day. Who doesn't have that?
Focusing on financial fitness? How about:
Considered the gold standard in personal finance management, Mint syncs with all of your accounts (checking, spending, and credit cards) in a beautifully designed interface. It tracks your budget and cash spending, automatically categorizes your transactions, and alerts you when bills are due, your balance is dipping low, or there's unusual activity in your account. With 13 million users and counting, it proves you don't need to be a big spender to get your finances under control.
Sometimes the most useful apps are also the simplest. This single-function money-saver keeps you from over-spending at the grocery store by calculating your grocery total as you go, factoring in on-sale items and taxes and differentiating for higher-tax items such as alcohol and tobacco. Cha-ching.
Those $2 or $3 ATM service charges may not seem like a lot at the time, but when you factor in the fee your bank charges you for using a non-associated ATM it can add up. This Windows Phone-exclusive app shows you nearby ATM locations for most national and large regional banks in the US, Canada, UK, and The Netherlands, potentially saving you quite a bit.
Trying to get organized? Check out:
If there's one organizing app you'll want for 2015, it's OneNote. Syncing effortlessly among your devices, it offers an intuitive interface for storing, organizing, and searching work documents, webpages, and family photos. Sharing and editing capabilities make it simple to organize a vacation as a group or divide and conquer a multi-part project — think of it as a giant digital binder that you can access from virtually anywhere.
There are three things you should look for in a password-storage app: security, security, and security. Keeper puts the lockdown on login and password information for every site you visit with ironclad AES encryption, and lets you store unlimited passwords on their Cloud Security Vault™.
Step 3: Celebrate!
While it's important not to celebrate until you've achieved your end-goal, it's just as crucial that you have a reward in place to look forward to. It should complement, rather than contradict, your goals. If your objective is to lose weight, for instance, a great outfit in your new size is probably more suitable than rewarding yourself with forty pounds of macaroni and cheese in one sitting.
No matter how you choose to celebrate, make sure to supplement it with a psychological reward as well: treat yourself to a well-deserved Facebook brag, and bask in the praise as it rolls in.
With the 3-Step Achievement Plan on your side and your Lumia 635 loaded with the apps you need to track your success, 2015 domination can be yours. See you in the 8%!
Anna Schumacher has written for Cosmopolitan, Refinery29, Esquire, and more. Her debut novel, END TIMES, is out now from Penguin/Razorbill books. Follow her at @SchumacherYA.