Eight apps to make your New Year resolutions stick

And if you vowed to use your phone less, just cut back on other apps, not these.
Woman stretching
The year is just beginning. You've got this. Li Zhongfei via Deposit Photos

When it comes to trying to improve your life and well-being in 2020, know that you’re not alone—help is on hand from your friends, your family, and yes, even your smartphone. No matter what your aims are, tap on your app store and give yourself a better chance of becoming part of that 20 percent that actually succeeds at conquering their New Year’s resolutions.

Cross that finish line with C25K 5K Trainer

The app stores are awash with running apps, but C25K 5K Trainer is a fantastic pick if you’re starting from zero (or close to zero). No matter how much you worked out in 2019, this app aims to get you ready for a 5K run in eight weeks through a series of activities and other exercises that gradually get more intense.

Starting is quick and easy, and you can map out your runs inside the app as you go. Spring for a $5 Pro version upgrade inside the app and you’ll get a few more cool features, including access to custom-made music designed to keep you running at the right tempo, and the ability to log calories burned and distance covered.

C25K 5K Trainer is free on Android and iOS, with a $5 Pro upgrade available.

Break the habit with Quit Genius

Screenshot of Quit Genius app
You might stand a better chance of quitting with Quit Genius. David Nield

Quit Genius wants to help you quit smoking, but rather than demanding that you stop immediately, it uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques to get you to reassess your relationship with smoking first. Only when you’re mentally ready to give up will the app start asking you to cut back.

The thinking is that you’re more likely to stick to your resolution if you’re in the right frame of mind first. After that, the app provides you with a step-by-step plan to quitting, helping you track your progress and keeping you motivated to kick nicotine out of your life for good. The basics are free, with extras (like one-to-one coaching) from $11 per month.

Quit Genius is free on Android and iOS, with extras available from $11 per month.

Drop that holiday weight with Calory

Calory is one of the more comprehensive diet tracking apps: it’ll track how much water you’re drinking, your calorie intake, and the ones you’re and burning off as you exercise. It’s useful for helping you hit all sorts of diet- and health-related goals (like eating breakfast every day), but it goes easy on the nagging—the app simply presents your progress over time for you to assess yourself.

Ease of use is crucial in any sort of app like this—no one wants to waste hours logging meals and drinks—and Calory hits the spot here. You can log and assess whatever you’re eating and drinking with just a few taps. Some premium features (including detailed nutrient data) are locked behind a $15-per-year subscription.

Calory is free on iOS, with a $15 annual premium subscription available.

Put down that bottle with My Limit

Screenshot of C25K 5K app
My Limit stops you from drinking too much—whether that’s for one night or the whole year. David Nield

If you want to reset your relationship with drinking, this app is definitely worth a try. My Limit will track your alcohol consumption over time, so you can get some solid data points behind your attempts to cut down.

Part of the appeal here is the ease with which you can get started and find your way around the app. Use the Alcohol Meter screen to log drinks including beer, wine, and spirits, then switch to the Drink History tab to ensure you’re sticking to your goals—you can see how much you’ve drunk, and how quickly, over days, weeks, and months.

My Limit is free on Android and iOS.

Make it happen with Fabulous

If you find it hard to stick to good habits, give Fabulous a go. It helps you change your behavior like a concerned friend, giving you personalized advice and articles on the science of habit-forming. It also covers all the basics you would expect, such as the ability to log how well you’re doing, set goals, and schedule reminders.

The app starts by asking you how you want to improve your life and goes from there. It can cover exercise, sleep, productivity, diet, and more, and is always on hand to give you an extra motivational nudge in the form of notifications when you need it. You can use the app for free, but you’ll be limited to tracking three goals; a $15-per-month subscription removes that limit.

Fabulous is free on Android and iOS, with a $15 monthly premium subscription available.

Speak like a native with Babbel

Screenshot of Babbel app
Learning a new language is a great way to connect with the world, and Babbel can help with that. David Nield

A sizable number of us start a new year wanting to learn a new language, and Babbel is one of the best mobile apps out there at helping people to reach that target. Don’t worry if you’re starting from scratch—the app will let you proceed at your own pace, gradually building up your confidence with a new language through simple conversation exercises.

With Babbel you never feel like you’re stuck in a rut, either: If you’re struggling with one particular exercise or topic, you can quickly switch to something else and come back at a later stage. Some lessons are free, but if you want to commit to a language, you’ll need to sign up for a $15-per-month subscription to unlock all the material.

Babbel is free on Android and iOS, with a $15-per-month subscription required to unlock everything.

Wind down with Endel

Endel is an app that produces personalized, algorithm-generated background sounds, which you can tweak to help you focus, relax, or get to sleep—three states of mind that are often important in trying to upgrade your habits. The audio adapts to the time of day and temperature to try and give you the most effective soundscape possible.

First, you choose what sort of mood you’re trying to get into, then you let the app get to work. The audio is never repetitive or boring, and if you want dreamy visualizations to go along with it, Endel can generate them, too.

Endel is $6 per month on Android and iOS, with a 7-day free trial available.

Turn your routine into a game with Habitica

Screenshot of Habitica app
With Habitica, your life becomes a role-playing game. David Nield

Habit-forming isn’t usually considered a fun exercise, but it can be with Habitica. This app turns developing good habits into something of a game, and as you check off tasks each day or week, you get rewards like points, new graphics, and access to minigames. The app can track any sort of habit, from quitting smoking to taking a brisk walk every day.

But rewards are not only digital—if you hit your targets, you can give yourself permission to enjoy a real-life treat, maybe watching some extra TV. The app also makes it easy to involve friends and family in trying to improve your habits, adding them to a leaderboard to see who’s doing better. A premium subscription gives you extras, like data export and avatar customizations.

Habitica is free on Android and iOS, with a $5 monthly premium subscription available.