Say you’d like to pick up a new habit. Maybe you don’t exercise as much as you’d like, or maybe you want to finally get around to writing that novel.
Goal tracking — or recording your goals and regularly reporting on your progress — is one way to accomplish these tasks. Goal tracking can be as simple as placing a sticker on a calendar for each day you complete a task, or as complicated as accounting for every hour of your day using a sophisticated computer program.
According to a study published in the journal Psychological Bulletin, goal tracking works. The researchers looked at 138 scientific studies and found that, on average, goal-tracking interventions helped individuals change behaviors and achieve their goals. If you’re interested in squashing a bad habit or building a new one, you might want to give goal tracking a try.
Here are five apps for your smartphone that can help you monitor — and attain — your goals.
Rewire is one of the highest-rated goal-tracking apps for the Android. The app records how many days in a row you’ve successfully completed your goal and encourages you not to break the chain and to keep up momentum. It provides colorful graphs and visuals designed to reward your success and tangible proof of your accomplishments.
Rewire is available for free on Android and Google Chrome.
Strides is different from most other goal-tracking apps in that it provides you with multiple ways to track your goals. For instance, the Target tracker encourages you to reach goals by a certain date, the Habit tracker helps you maintain daily habits and the Milestones tracker teaches you to complete large tasks by breaking them down into steps. The user interface is also beautiful, making Strides a very satisfying way to track goal progress.
Strides is available for free on the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. It is also available online.
Habitica turns your life into a videogame, which rewards you with points for completing some tasks and virtual gold for completing others. As you come closer to reaching your goal, your character grows stronger. Failing to work toward your goal will cause your character to lose points. Habitica also contains a social component, so you can work toward goals with your friends or a family member if you’d like.
Habitica is available for free on iPhone and Android.
If you want to improve your quality of life but don’t know how, Balanced is the app for you. It offers 50 suggested activities that you can do each day to make a difference in your mental and/or physical health. You can also set your own goals. Balanced provides plenty of positive feedback and lets you know when you’re on a particularly good streak.
Balanced is available for free on iPhone.
Productive, unlike other goal-tracking apps, allows you to segregate your goals based on the time of day. For instance, if you want to start walking every morning, you can make walking into a morning goal. If you want to read a chapter of a book every night, you can set it up as a nighttime goal. By dividing goals into time of day, they become less overwhelming and easier to manage.
Productive is available for free on iPhone.
Different motivational techniques work for different people. If none of these apps work for you, look for others — there are plenty. Try making your own goal-tracking calendar. Enlist a friend or family member to act as your cheerleader. Speak with your therapist. It’s always possible to bring a positive change to your life.
At Sovereign Health of California’s mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment and dual diagnosis programs, we’re here to help you achieve your goal of living a healthier life. All patients receive individualized, customized treatment plans best suited to their unique challenges. For more information, contact our 24/7 helpline.
About the author
Courtney Lopresti, M.S., is a senior staff writer for the Sovereign Health Group where she uses her scientific background to write online blogs and articles for a general audience. At the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned her Master’s in neuroscience, she used functional neuroimaging to study how the human cerebellum contributes to language processing. In her spare time, she writes fiction, reads Oliver Sacks and spends time with her two cats and bird. Courtney is currently located in Minneapolis. For more information and other inquiries about this article, contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.