Last January, I wrote about the different approach I was trying for my 2012 New Year’s resolutions. I purposed to work on one new habit at a time and allow it to become firmly established before moving on to another.
Although I never got around to blogging about my progress as planned, it’s not because the experiment didn’t work. It did. But I stayed so busy plugging away at those goals that little time was left for documenting my success.
I may not have built all twenty-four habits I was aiming for, but I achieved many of them, and made decent progress on the others, as well: I read my Bible every single day and finished it in a year. I lost 30 pounds and kept them off for six months (so far) through daily exercise and calorie tracking. I invested daily in my marriage (which really makes our whole family happy, but especially my husband). I taught two more of my children to read. I’ve gleaned and tried lots of new ideas online for projects, crafts, recipes, and organization. I remembered family birthdays in time to get cards or packages signed, sealed and delivered on or before the big day. And I tried to economize in every way I could (although other family members sometime work against me on that one ).
The key to developing any new habit is consistency.
When we chip away daily at our goals, little by little, the results add up over time. Today’s technology makes it even easier to make steady, measurable progress. Here are
seven eight online aps and resources that helped me stay consistent last year in the above mentioned areas:
- Bible Reading Calendar – I love this free one-year Bible reading plan. It gives you a variety of passages all week (history on Mondays, poetry on Wednesdays, gospels on Saturdays, etc), so that you don’t get bogged down in the book of Leviticus for a solid month. You can even sign up to receive each day’s reading delivered directly by email.
- Lose It! – This free app makes tracking calories almost effortless. It lets you scan barcodes, search for restaurant or brand name items, choose from previously eaten foods, or add recipe ingredients to create your own food. And if you, like I, tend to eat the same foods over and over, you can duplicate the calories consumed in an entire meal with a single click. The program calculates how many calories you should consume based on your current weight, age, activity level, and weight loss goals, and also keeps track of calories burned through exercise.
- TTapp – After reading how a fellow homeschooling mother of twelve lost 100+ pounds by doing TTapp, I knew I had to investigate. And am I ever so glad I did! It only takes 15 minutes a day, 3-4 days a week to see amazing results. I lost 30 pounds last year using Teresa Tapp’s Total Body Core DVD and hope to lose another 40 this year. You can see Teresa’s signature move, the “Hoe Down” on YouTube. I know it looks deceptively easy, but just do a couple of sets and see how quickly it will get your heart rate up. My little 2-year-old likes TTapping, too. She looks so adorable doing hoe downs and lunges!
- Love Your Husband on Facebook – This is a page I manage on Facebook, packed with marriage-building how-to and encouragement in the form of marriage quotes, interesting statistics, beautiful graphics, handy printables, thought-provoking polls, and links to helpful articles from across the web. We’d love for you to come join in the conversation. Just click the “Like” box in the righthand margin of this page to sign up.
- Funnix Reading – I got a free beta-copy of this program for an old computer two years ago and enjoyed immediate success with it. It is based on the same program we used for our older children (TEACH YOUR CHILD TO READ IN 100 EASY LESSONS), but is much more colorful and fun. When we changed computers and I had to purchase a new copy, I was pleased to see how reasonably-priced it was, but would have paid even more for it as by that time I’d seen how well it works. I even bought an extra copy for my daughter-in-law to use with my grandsons. It is easy to teach two or more children simultaneously using this program, which cuts down on my instruction time as well. Funnix gets six thumbs up from us!
- Pinterest – If you’ve never checked out this virtual pinboard, you should, if only to bookmark sites you wish to revisit or articles you’ll want to re-read. There is a wealth of information available on Pinterest. I love the fact that I can find detailed tutorials for doing just about anything I want to do on Pinterest? My girls and I have gleaned great ideas and completed countless Pinterest projects this year.
- Birthday Alarm – I’m sure there are lots of this kind of reminder service available online, but I like Birthday Alarm because it’s free and it allows me to plug in the birthdays I want to remember manually, so I don’t have to pester my friends and family with email requests to fill out forms (and don’t have to divulge anybody’s email address but my own to use the service). Reminders are sent one week, then again three days in advance of each birthday, enough advance notice to drop a card in the mail or a gift ordered and delivered. To add dates by hand, click on “Add Birthdays,” then choose “Other Options” at the bottom of the page, then scroll to the very bottom of the next page and choose “add birthdays manually.”
- Ebates – This is a free shopping portal that will pay you cash back on almost every online purchase you make. Shopping with Ebates was already a well-established habit in my own life, but I’ve been trying to train the rest of my family to use it, too. Simply go to Ebates and click through from there to the merchant you want to shop. Unfortunately, Amazon books does not participate, but just about every other store our family shops online does, including Target, Walmart, Payless Shoes, Office Depot, Eddie Bauer, 123 Inks, Home Depot, Linens ‘N Things, etc. Cash payouts are made quarterly.
And that about sums up my list of favorite apps and resources. What sorts of things have you found helpful in maintaining consistency and working toward your goals? Leave a comment below and tell us about them!