Come January, the nation swells with motivation, marching bravely toward New Year's resolutions. Nicotine patches fly off the shelves, new volunteers flood local charities and gyms are filled to the brim with bright-eyed "resolutionaries."
According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology at the University of Scranton, 45 percent of Americans usually make New Year's resolutions. Despite nearly half of the population vowing to realize their dreams each year, only 8 percent of them actually reach their goals.
For many, motivation wanes as time for volunteering shrinks and life becomes too stressful to quit smoking. Some devise downright creative reasons for not working out beyond January 2 despite a closet full of athletic wear and a pricey gym membership commitment.
General Manager of LA Fitness on Mitchell Hammock Road Johan Farigua wasn't kidding when he said that after New Year's Day, there are a handful of gym members he only sees twice — once when they start their gym membership at the beginning of the year and once more when they cancel it.
"About 50 percent of people from the [New Year's] rush end up canceling," Farigua said. "Some people don't have the time, so obviously they're not coming in enough to see the results."
If you have no bulge to battle, tightening your belt may have nothing to do with putting less food on your plate and everything to do with counting your dough in 2014. Saving more money is one of the most popular resolutions according to usa.gov and the site states that most people plan to quit smoking, drink less, manage their stress and learn something new among other popular New Year's goals.
For those seeing one of these popular, repeat resolutions return each year, they may be buying the wrong equipment all together. Trading in those expensive running shoes or electronic cigarettes for a free phone app may be a better way for some to their goal through from day one to day 365.
"Phone apps about workout routines will help people to do new things," Farigua said. "February is about the time that enrollment slows down and people end up canceling. If they download the right app, that can keep them going to the gym a bit longer."
Whether you're going for fitness of the body or the bank account, there is a fun — and free — app for any New Year's goal that will help keep you motivated year round.
Drink less alcohol
If your journey on the road to self-improvement does not include a beer run, you may be trying to give up the gulp this year. Even though drinking less alcohol is one of the most popular resolutions each year, you may start feeling quite alone if you're the only one drinking water at a weekend outing. Whether you're trying to cut it down or cut it out, Android users can keep a dairy of how many drinks they consume by day, week or month. It's made to easily log custom drinks for quick entries and input "danger" thresholds that are defined by you.
If it's a danger to drink any amount of alcohol, Stop Drinking with Andrew Johnson is an app to help you kick the habit. For $2.99 on Android and iPhone, the app provides portable therapeutic techniques to quell the mental and physical cravings for alcohol with hypnotherapy, positive suggestions, and visualization to help you see your goal through to next year.
If you're worried about your wallet shrinking more than your waist, a free app may be your preferred route to healthy living.
My Diet Diary for the iPhone allows you to input your food intake, exercise, weight and nutrition data to stay on track with your weight goals. Noom Weight Loss Coach is a highly rated, similar app for Android phones.
Pairing the free app Restaurant Nutrition with either of these apps will show you the calorie count of your favorite dish at popular chain restaurants. If it's horrifying, the app can steer you closer to a meal that's less calorie costly.
Additionally, MyFitnessPal is a great option for those wanting to make the plunge onto the weight loss scene. It's a free app as well, and allows users to track their meals along with their exercise. The app also syncs up with fitness apps, such as RunKeeper and MapMyRide. The app can also track your activity throughout the day and automatically add it to your diary. That is, if you carry your cell during all your physical activity.
For coupon critics who can't embrace the idea of something free saving you money, the Mint app might change everything. The free web, iPhone and Android app combines all of your assets and allows you to set financial goals, see when your bills are due, and track where your money is going. According to the website, the app offers bank-level security to keep your information safe and the tracking features are "read-only," which doesn't allow anyone — including yourself — to transfer money to and from any account.
If you're still not comfortable inputting your financial information into your phone, the Toshl Finance app is another option for budgeting on your iPhone, Android or Windows phone. It still allows you to input your financial goals but keeps track of your spending through the values you input. The app can also notify you of bill due dates just like Mint, but with more privacy.
Winter Springs Hypnotist Bill Hansen has been in the business of motivating people for 47 years. In addition to teaching stress reduction techniques through hypnosis, he helps his clients realize their goals and break bad habits. His methods might be unconventional, but he is always sought out at the beginning of each new year.
"[I'm] dealing with their minds with dealing with the subconscious," Hansen said. "A lot of people come in for weight reduction. You can suggest that they exercise, but you need to go deeper. Motivating people through suggestion can get them to act."
Hansen's methods to relieve stress and achieve goals that bring peace to the mind aren't much different from many stress management apps out there.
The free iPhone app called Anxiety Free hypnotizes its user and puts him or her into a relaxed state with 30 minutes of audio. The app recommends its mobile hypnosis session three times per week in a safe place.
For more conventional stress management, the iPhone and Android app Breathe2Relax has a menu of different breathing techniques known to interrupt stress receptors in the brain for anxiety, anger management and mood stabilization.
In the new year, your smartphone can double as a to-do list and keep you from another unproductive year. The app Astrid is free and doesn't turn task making into a chore with its pre-set to-do lists that can easily be filled out. Prioritizing and repeating tasks is no issue either and this app can sync to any mobile device in addition to desktops so there's no excuse for forgetting the milk.
For more simple prioritizing, Todolist is available for iPhone and Android in addition to multiple e-mail plug-ins. With this app, your to-do list can be limitless and you can also make smaller sub lists for tasks with multiple steps. This minimalist app is free.
Though the odds may be against resolutionaries, a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology at the University of Scranton stated that people who explicitly make resolutions each year are 10 times more likely to attain their aspirations than people who don't explicitly make them, and pairing your gadgets with your goals may be a good start.