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Why habit tracking apps alone can't help you keep your New Year's resolutions

Habit-formation apps are aspirational tools

They're less about distilling your life into a series of data points and more about becoming your ideal self: If you use their app, you too can become a person who practices good habits. You can become someone who exercises and meditates every day and always drinks eight glasses of water.

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Why habit tracking apps alone can't help you keep your New Year's resolutions

Why habit tracking apps alone can't help you keep your New Year's resolutions

https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/1/2/18158989/habit-tracking-apps-new-years-resolutions

vox.com

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Key Ideas

Habit-formation apps are aspirational tools

They're less about distilling your life into a series of data points and more about becoming your ideal self: If you use their app, you too can become a person who practices good habits. You can become someone who exercises and meditates every day and always drinks eight glasses of water.

The 4 tendencies when it comes to habit formation:

  • upholders: disciplined and respond to both internal and external expectations;
  • obligers :can’t keep commitments to themselves but respond to expectations from others; 
  • questioners: ask why and can keep a habit if they understand the logic reasoning; 
  • rebels: hate being told what to do by others, so it has to be something they want to do.
Depending on your habit-formation tendency, habit-tracking apps may or may not work for you. 

Habit apps use the psychology of habit formation

  • Many rely on a “streak” feature: they track how many consecutive days you’ve completed the habit;
  • Other apps offer accountability features to pressure you into completing your goal; 
  • Some apps turn habit formation into a game: The app rewards users who complete their habits with badges and other virtual incentives.

When habit apps work

Habit apps can work, but only if you actively monitor the data from the app each day and use it to analyze how you can change:  if you actually use the device and take its data and turn that data into knowledge, then it can actually improve your odds of changing.

“There is not an app that gives you some magical ability to change. The way that you change is you spend the time necessary to look at the change you want to accomplish, to try and figure out each ...

“There is not an app that gives you some magical ability to change. The way that you change is you spend the time necessary to look at the change you want to accomplish, to try and figure out each day why you’re getting closer or farther away from it, to give yourself rewards in order to encourage that habit to thrive, and then to actually commit to it and to make that data into actual knowledge about why you behave the way that you do.” - Charles Duhigg

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